The steady increase in airline ticket prices over the years is making traveling more difficult for the average person. On top of increased flight price most airlines now deal unexpected blows to your pocket book like charging to bring a bag on board. Well, it’s time to fight back – here are 5 tips for snagging a cheaper flight.
1. Be willing to drive first
Especially for those of you living far from the airport, being willing to drive to your destination can save you hundreds of dollars, especially if you have multiple people traveling. Splitting the cost of gas between 2 or more people can make driving a less expensive option. When deciding to drive or fly be sure to factor in all costs associated with flying (parking your car at the airport, baggage charges, taxes, rental cars, etc.) before making your decision. Renting a car and driving to your destination is another possible way to save, and keep miles off your vehicle.
2. Look for connecting flights
A direct flight to your final destination is the ideal way to fly, but it is usually costly. Being willing to use connecting flights can save a bundle. A connection does not need to be directly on your way. For example: If your are flying from Washington D.C. to Dallas a scheduled layover in Cleveland can make the flight more affordable. Just make sure you leave enough time to get from the arrival gate to the connecting gate. Also, account for any delays that may occur. My suggestion would be allowing 2-3 hours per layover… which also allows you to get some work done while you wait.
3. Use two one way tickets
Buying a one way flight to your destination and a one way flight back is another option. It also allows you to price check between airlines, since many times a round trip ticket on one airline is more expensive. Finding two one way tickets may take a bit more time, but it’s time well spent – if you’re looking to save money on travel you must be willing to put in the time. Using websites that search several airlines at once (such as Travel Zoo or Kayak) can help save time, but using the actual airline websites will sometimes yield lower prices… so shop around.
4. Stop short of the final destination
Another way to fly cheap is to book a flight to an alternate destination that connects to your final destination then miss the connecting flight. For example: If you are going from Detroit, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama. It might be cheaper to book a ticket to Orlando, Florida that has a connecting flight at Birmingham, then simply miss your connecting flight to Orlando. This method can work, especially if the town you are flying into is smaller. Only use this method if you are traveling with a carry on, otherwise your luggage will be take to the final destination on the ticket!
5. Become a Travel Hacker!
Matt’s note: A friend of mine, author and non-conformist extraordinaire Chris Guillebeau, has a goal to visit every country in the world before his 35th birthday (at the time of writing he has successfully traveled to 159 out of 193)! Needless to say, Chris knows how to save money on travel. What’s really cool is that he has written several guides to share all his travel hacking secrets with us. If you’re serious about travel and serious about saving, you need to get his guides; they’re the best on the market. Chris reveals how to become travel ninjas, how to save on frequent flyer miles, and offers bundle prices for those looking to become travel hacking masters. You can find his travel guides here.
Always remember that it takes time to save money on travel – spending more time you usually means you spend less money – so be sure to start researching options several months in advance. A website that I like to use is airfarewatchdog.com. This website offers up the cheapest flights of the day, and you can sign up for emails informing you when an affordable flight is leaving from your local airport. There are many ways to save money on flights, and these tips will help, so use them.
If you know of other ways to save on flights please share.