With fuel costs rising and airlines finding more fees to impose on travelers every day, airfare isn’t getting any cheaper. Since you can’t drive to all your dream destinations, flying is the only way to go sometimes and, undeniably, the fastest. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to find the most affordable fares and also avoid paying as many extra charges as possible when you plan ahead.
Getting the best fare
Airlines put out their fare sales on Tuesday morning, making this day the best day to book a flight for less.
Fly during the least popular times. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are the slowest days to fly, which means cheaper deals than the rest of the week. You can also find reduced rates on early morning flights, since many people don’t like to get up before the sun to get to the airport. Earlier boarding times can also considerably cut down your chances of getting bumped on an overbooked flight or delayed because of other delayed flights or mechanical issues.
Choose your seat later. Some airlines charge you to pick your seat when you book online, adding even more to the bottom line of your ticket cost. If you show up early on your travel day, you can still get suitable seats. Some of the best seats get held back until flight day, unless others are willing to pay extra for them ahead of time, so you still have the chance at one of those.
Fly on holidays. You already know that summer is the most expensive time to fly, and even though most other times are more affordable, the days surrounding holidays can be crazy. Save big if you’re willing to travel on major holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Don’t wait until the last-minute to book. Many travelers don’t know that there’s a sweet spot for booking and getting the best price on your tickets. Book too early or too late and you could end up paying more than you need to. The best time to book is between three months and six weeks from when you want to travel.
Avoiding extra fees
Airlines will charge for just about anything these days. Some have even toyed around with charging customers for using the restroom. All those extra fees can certainly add up, but there’s no reason to pay them if you don’t have to. Here are some tips to keep money in your wallet once you get to the airport.
Avoid the upgrade it’s not necessary. Sometimes upgrades are free, but mostly you will be charged for seeking a last-minute bump to first class, and the cost can be hefty.
Fly carry-on only. Baggage fees vary wildly, but almost all airlines charge them and charge big. Why pay for your clothes to fly with you? If everyone in your travel party checks a bag, your bill can be astronomical before you ever even get to your destination. It’s easy to reduce the amount of stuff you pack: Make sure all your clothing coordinates, so you can take less and still make more outfit combinations, take only two pair of shoes, plan to do a bit of laundry on your trip and bring only travel-sized toiletries.
Pack your own snacks. Unless you’re flying internationally, it’s rare your flight comes with a free meal. Snacks on the plane are not cheap and almost never healthy. Don’t rely on what’s on the small menu and instead tuck some of your own snacks – granola bars, homemade muffins, fruit and trail mix all make fantastic travel foods – into your bag and eat a lot better, and cheaper, than other passengers.
Do you have a tried and true method of getting the best deal on your flights? Let us know.