Yesterday, I mentioned how the wife and I recently traveled to Boston for free on my wife’s frequent flier miles. I felt like that was a bit of a cop out. I should do better. I didn’t offer you any useful information for saving money on airfare – other than try to get a job that allows you rack up frequent flier miles. Today, I’m going to make things right. Below you’ll find some tips on saving money on airfare. Hopefully a couple of them will be helpful.
Save Money on Airfare with Online Tools
The Internet is packed with ways to help you save money on airfare:
- Find the Best Prices – I’ve found Kayak to be the most complete online airline search. It’s not 100% and you still want to search sites it doesn’t cover like Southwest.
- Name Your Own Airfare – If you are flexible on your travel time, you could take a shot at naming your own price with Priceline. This works best if you look for the lowest price first on something like Kayak first.
- Know When to Book your Flight – Farecast tries to predict whether flight prices will go up or down. Enter where and when you want to travel and it will tell you whether you should book now or wait for a lower price.
- Join a Wholesale Club – Yes, there is a wholesale club for airfare. For $50 a year you can join cFares. cFares has discount international flights that I’ve heard are exclusive. You can also set up a search for a flight and cFares will continuously look for the price you set. If it finds it, it will put it on 24-hour hold. This is not to be confused with Priceline, where you would be locked into the price you choose. Note: I have not tested this service as I do limited international travel.
Save Money on Airfare by Being Aware of Fees
Each airline has it’s own set of fees and charges. Here’s a good compilation of the most popular airlines.
- Fly Southwest – Southwest has very few fees. They allow you to change flight times easily, perhaps the only airline with that policy.
- Keep You Reservation – If you have to change a flight, you’ll pay a fee (except for Southwest as previously noted). If at all possible look to stick with the reservation you’ve already made.
- Food – You used to get a free meal on a plane. That’s gone the way of the dodo bird. Now most people buy food on the plane or at the terminal. The prices there are not typically the best. You can bring food from home, just be careful about liquids (see next item for more information). You will get a drink on the plane, so you can take advantage of that.
- Pack Efficiently – Nowadays you have to pay for almost any baggage you need to check. This is particular poor because you now have to follow TSA’s 311 rules for carry-on bags. I always try to bring sunscreen with me to save money, but that typically requires checking.
Other Ideas on How to Save Money on Airfare
- Frequent Flier Miles – You can use frequent flier miles to get free flights. You can get frequent flier miles by flying, but you can also get them by…
- Using a Reward Credit Card – Some popular cards include: WorldPerks Visa and Delta Sky Miles
- Check Smaller Airports – When I lived near Boston, I would often fly from Manchester or Providence taking advantage of cheaper flights. Even though, I live 8 miles from the San Francisco airport, I often check San Jose and Oakland. It’s often well worth it.
- Consider One Way Flights and Different Airports – You want to use all the options available to you if you can
- Travel Off-Season – Everyone wants to go England when it’s warm, but you can save a lot of money by going during the winter.
- Travel During Off-Peak Weeks – Traveling during school vacations and holidays can be pricey. Look to steer clear from these busy travel times. You’ll also save yourself a lot of travel stress with the reduced crowds.
- Military? Fly for free – If you are in the military, you can take advantage of the SpaceA program. This allows you to fly for free with some restrictions.
- Get the Most Leg Room – While not much of a money saving tip (unless you go for first class for extra leg room), give SeatGuru a look to find specific rows and seats that have more space on your particular plane.
So there you have it… the best tips I could come up with. What are your tips for saving money on airfare? Drop me a comment below.
Photo Credit: zen118