Smart Ways to Save Money on Flights

Sep 11, 2018

Though horror stories abound regarding flight delays, lost baggage, and terrible service, flying is still the quickest and safest way to travel from one point to another. Gone are the days when only high society could travel as flying has become more affordable over the years. It still isn't "cheap" and for those on a tight budget, flying can seem out of reach. Airlines charge extra for amenities like extra legroom, early boarding, checked luggage, and special seat selection. Considering this, the cost of a single airplane ticket can add up quickly. For traveling families, the cost for tickets can surpass thousands of dollars. There are ways to mitigate the cost of airline tickets. Below are seven ways to save money when purchasing a ticket.

1. Book Early

Booking a flight reservation early has many benefits including a cheaper fare. It makes sense to book early rather than waiting until the last minute. Depending on the desirability of the destination and the fact that airlines run fewer flights these days, airplane seats are filling up fast. Reserving seats early is especially important when traveling during airlines' busiest times of the year. As the seats fill up on the airplane, prices increase for the remaining seats. It is simple supply and demand at work.

2. Fly During Off-Peak Times

Off-peak is determined by time of day, day of the week, and seasons. Early morning flights and late-night flights tend to be cheaper since they are not as desirable to passengers as flights during typical business hours. Where Sunday and Monday are busier days of the week to fly, Tuesdays and Saturdays tend to be slower. Scheduling vacations or business trips within these parameters can result in cheaper ticket prices. Summertime is generally busier with family travel to destinations like theme parks and beaches. This is because children are out of school during the summer. Avoiding family-oriented destinations during times of the year when school is out will also yield savings on flight tickets.

3. Buy Directly from the Airline

There are many different vendors ready to assist with airline ticket sales from websites to travel agents. It is always best to buy directly through the airline on which travel will occur. In doing so, one avoids paying a middleman fee on top of the cost of the ticket. There is also more protection for the passenger should a flight delay or other inconvenience occur. An airline agent can assist immediately rather than referring the passenger to the party through which their ticket was purchased.

4. Travel Light

Traveling with only the essentials can save money. Most airlines now charge passengers to check luggage in the cargo hold. The checked luggage fee can range from $25 to $60 depending where the luggage fee was paid, such as online or at the ticket counter during check-in. Luggage fees vary from airline to airline. Some airlines charge for all luggage including carry-on. It is important to read the fine print when booking a ticket to make sure extra fees will not be required upon check-in.

5. Bring Snacks Along

Most airlines sell food and snacks on board during long flights. This convenience can be costly. Though not directly related to ticket pricing, bringing one's own snacks can help to cut costs associated with flying. Most snacks are allowed on board if they adhere to the liquid limitations rule. Another way to save money is to bring a refillable water bottle. Most airports now have filtered water spigots for passengers to refill their own bottles.

6. Volunteer for Later Flights or Standby

Often, airlines will wind up in situations where a flight is overbooked. This means there are more people booked to travel on the flight than seats available. In this case, the gate agents will offer monetary discounts off future travel for volunteers who take a later flight. Discounts range from $250 to $1000. This can easily cover the cost of one's next vacation. Traveling standby is another option that could save money on ticket prices. Standby can be difficult during peak times. It is important to understand that standby travelers board the plane only after all regular fare passengers are on and there are seats available.

7. Apply for the Airline's Credit Card

Most airlines offer their own credit card service with a small annual fee. Typically, for every dollar spent on these credit cards, one point is earned. Points add up and can be used to pay for airline tickets. Using the card for regular purchases and paying it off each month can help build point balances to essentially earn free tickets.

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