How to Save Money on Flights
Traveling by air can be an exciting experience, opening the door to new destinations and adventures. However, the cost of flights can often be a significant part of your travel expenses. Finding ways to save money on flights can make your travel dreams more accessible and affordable. Whether you're a frequent flyer or planning a one-time vacation, there are several strategies and tips that can help you secure cheaper airfare. In this guide, we'll explore various methods to reduce your flight costs, from booking in advance to taking advantage of discounts and deals. By the end of this guide, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to make informed choices and snag the best flight deals for your next journey.
Book in Advance: Generally, booking your flight well in advance can result in lower prices. Airlines often raise prices as the departure date approaches. As indicated by Forbes.com, they have found that booking a flight that is 28 to 35 days in advance before departure with yield the best deals. Although you may book a date farther back, this may not change pricing as much as you think. However, for most of my flights, booking as far as three months in advance has helped me secure deals internationally. Just keep in mind that doing this also carries a risk as things may happen between the time of booking and the time of departure. An example is during the COVID outbreak in 2020, thousands of flights were canceled while also leaving some stranded internationally for months at a time. I was one of the unfortunate ones who had a flight canceled that I booked months in advance while only receiving a fraction of the cost back.
Be Flexible with Dates: All travel days are not created equal as some chosen departure days are cheaper to book than others. A good tip is to also google search your flight destinations, under the flights category. When you navigate to the calendar filter, you will be able to see all the flight prices throughout the month or year. You will notice that flights in the middle of the week are much cheaper than flights on the weekends. If you have a job with irregular hours and work days, use this to your advantage when booking flights as most likely you will have days off in the middle of the week which can be used as departure days.
Use Fare Comparison Websites: Websites like Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, and Momondo can help you compare fares from various airlines and travel agencies. They often have features that allow you to see prices for different days or nearby airports. One of the sites I used in the past is CheapOAir, it is still a barebones site but what I do like is its focus on the best cheapest flights you can get while filtering out your preferred airlines of choice. You will also be recommended alternate routes to save extra cash while you are doing your search. However, other sites like Momondo are also great, which have nice features should as a daily price graph depending on the times you would like to depart.
Set Fare Alerts: Many flight booking websites and apps allow you to set fare alerts. They will notify you when there's a significant drop in the price of your desired flight. The function is usually posted on the top left corner of the screen either under "fare alerts" or "track prices".
Clear Your Browser Cookies: Some websites might show you higher prices if they detect repeated searches for the same flights. This has been true with the flights that I have booked in the past, feel free to try it yourself and see if your flights do change in price. Clear your browser cookies or use a private browsing mode to avoid this.
Use Airline Miles and Points: If you fly frequently, consider joining a frequent flyer program and using your accumulated miles or points for discounts on flights. Most of these miles and points program comes with the application of certain credit cards and accrue when using them for flight bookings. An example is Chase credit cards which usually gives you 1 point for each dollar spent. You can also gain points by spending a certain amount by the end of the first month that you receive the card. However, just make sure to read how to get each reward as the rules may change year over year. If you accumulate enough points, you may be able to book a flight for free. You can also look at individual airlines themselves if they also offer similar rewards programs. Airlines such as JetBlue and Southwest give you bonus points if you apply for their credit program and also have added bonuses if you apply during certain times of the year. And again, always stay updated as these deals change year over year.
Travel Off-Peak or Low Seasons: A strong tip for finding cheap deals is to Avoid peak travel times, such as holidays and weekends. With flights following the rule of supply and demand, the price will radically change depending on when people decide to fly the most or the least. With more flyers deciding to fly during the holidays, we can expect the prices will skyrocket because of low seat availability. Due to most people having a weekly 9-5 job (Monday to Friday), most travelers decide to depart and arrive during the weekend which also causes a spike in price. Also, be wary of the seasons, since most educational institutes will have breaks during the summer and winter, we can assume that demand for travel will spike during those times. Feel free to travel any season besides those.
Book One-Way Tickets: Sometimes, booking one-way tickets with different airlines can be cheaper than round-trip tickets. Just experiment on travel booking sites to see what you can find. Not all airlines and times are created equal.
Avoid Baggage Fees: Many airlines charge extra for checked baggage. Travel light with just carry-on luggage to avoid these fees. However, if you are flying internationally on more prestigious airlines, your luggage fees may already be included in the price so be wary to take advantage of this. As for traveling myself, I like to only have a carry which makes mobility a lot easier when you are deciding to travel between hotels and hostels often.
Consider Budget Airlines: Budget airlines may offer lower fares, but be sure to factor in additional costs such as baggage fees and in-flight amenities. I would recommend doing this if you are ok without the extra amenities.
Consider Alternate Routes: Sometimes, taking a slightly longer route with a layover can be more cost-effective. Taking layover flights may also be beneficial to you if your goal is to visit the world on a budget. I remember being able to visit both Iceland and Sweden on the same trip just because I had a layover in Iceland. I was able to visit both countries for under $600 roundtrip which would have been more expensive if I were to book a direct flight to either one of those countries separately. Just make sure that the countries you are taking a layover in will allow you to exit the airport. Since everything depends on the timing of flights you can find some routes cheaper than others just because a returning flight uses a different airline that departs thirty minutes earlier or later, it all depends on your tolerance.
In conclusion, saving money on flights is a valuable skill that can make your travel dreams more attainable. By planning ahead, using fare comparison tools, staying flexible with your travel dates, and considering alternative options like nearby airports or budget airlines, you can significantly reduce the cost of your flights. The key is to be proactive and diligent in your search for the best flight deals, which can ultimately help you make the most of your travel budget and embark on memorable journeys without breaking the bank. Scout deals ahead of time, Safe travels, and happy savings on your next adventure!