If you’re planning on heading off on your vacation, one consideration that will probably be near the top of your list is the cost of your trip. And, while many of us don’t mind paying that little bit extra for a fancy hotel or a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, nobody likes paying over the odds for flights. That’s why getting the inside guide on how to find cheap airline flight deals is a huge bonus when you’re paying for your vacation.
Annoyingly, airlines use a pricing structure that’s just about as confusing as you’ll see anywhere else in the world. Rates change without warning and can even go up or down hour-to-hour or day-to-day. So to help you get the best airline flight deals, we’ve put together a list of the top tips you’ll need when looking for that golden ticket. Use these useful little tricks to beat the airlines at their own game and make sure you get the vacation you deserve, at a price you can afford! Not only that, we’ve grouped these tips into Novice, Advanced and Expert categories. So whether you’re a greenhorn booking your first vacation, or you’re a seasoned traveler, there’s always something new to learn!
To stop or not to stop?
Think carefully about whether or not you want to book a flight with a change or layover, or whether you want to book one direct to your destination. Laying over can help bring down the cost of your trip at face value, but you should weigh that saving against the additional expense on your time. It’s usually not worth laying over if you’re making a minimal saving in exchange for three or four hours of your time. You run the chance of missing your connection, have the added inconvenience of waiting around, and if you have to book a hotel for an overnight layover, you might seriously want to think about booking that pricey direct flight. You could save more money in the long run by doing so!
Book Through The Carrier
Whilst it can be great to look at third party or comparison websites, when it comes to booking cheap airline flight deals, be wary that these sites don’t always offer the best rates. By all means do your research and check these websites to get an idea of prices, but after that think about going directly via the carrier itself to actually book your flight. Carriers often offer deals directly through their own website that aren’t available elsewhere, so you might be surprised how much you could save – especially if you’re booking last minute, as these seats tend to be selling off cheap.
The day you reserve your flight matters
Seriously, it does. Airlines have got wise to the fact that more people want to fly on some days than others – usually to fit around work commitments. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday tend to be notoriously expensive. However, if you can afford to be flexible, you definitely should. If you can fit it into your travel agenda, try booking a midweek flight on a Wednesday to get around these weekend prices.
Fly To A Smaller Airport
This might seem counterintuitive here, but trust us, it can make a whole load of sense. Booking flights to major airports, like JFK, O’Hare or George Bush, can send the price of your flight sky-high (pardon the pun).
However, most major cities have a small or medium-sized airport nearby that you can use instead. This airport might be a little out of town, but if you can rely on friends or family coming to give you a ride, the public transport system into town is decent, or you can find a good deal to rent a car, you can save a ton of money. There’s a chance this approach might make your journey longer or even make it shorter, so check out transportation links and weigh up the possible inconvenience you might face against the monetary savings you stand to make.
You’d be surprised where you can pick up coupons to help out with the cost of your flight. Some airlines print coupons in old-fashioned coupon books, and numerous sites on the internet offer up to date info on coupons you need to get your cheap airline flight deal. Try places like Flyertalk and MilePoint to start with.
Use your credit card
Just make sure you do it responsibly! Tons of credit cards offer special deals when booking flights, including cashback deals when you use the card to book with a particular airline. If you have a cash back card that offers you money back on purchases anyway, then you’ll get a certain percentage of your spend back after booking the flight – just like you would with any regular purchase. Be careful you can afford this when you book, though, the last thing you want is a huge credit card bill!
Find last minute deals
If you’re feeling brave or if you can afford to wait, then it’s seriously worth considering trying to reserve your seat at the last minute. Airlines tend to sell off unfilled seats at the last minute, often for dirt cheap prices based on the thinking that making any money from a seat is better than leaving it empty. Aim to book your flights on Wednesday if you want to travel on the upcoming weekend, for example. It can be a bit tense, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the cheap airline flight you want, but the savings you can make booking this way are potentially huge.
Fly to a hidden city
This expert-level tip involves booking a flight with a deliberate layover, with the thinking that you leave the airport at the layover because that’s the destination you wanted to go to in the first place! Your layover becomes your final destination! Obviously, this only works if this approach is cheaper than booking a flight directly to your destination instead, and you should make sure that you don’t fly with any luggage in the hold. If you do, you won’t be able to get it back when you touch down at your destination: it’ll fly on to the end of the planned route!
Complain – but do it politely!
Let’s face it, there’s a good chance that if you’ve ever been on a plane in your life, you’ll have something to complain about! If this applies to you, use it to your advantage as you search for the best airline flight deals: call or email the airline’s customer services department and politely explain your grievance to them. An excessive delay, bad customer service or something else that’s seriously inconvenienced you is probably best. You can use this legitimate complaint to try and get some free vouchers out of your airline – these can sometimes be worth hundreds of dollars and can be used to save on your next flight!
Fly on the red eye
Red eye flights can be punishing. Hours in the air when you’re usually asleep can be touch, especially if you just can’t sleep on planes! The fact of the matter is that airlines know this, and they offer night and early morning flights for less money as a result. Jumping on such a flight can save you hundreds of dollars if you can deal with the potential lack of sleep and disruption it can cause. This is an expert level tip mainly because a red eye flight often isn’t the relaxing start to a vacation that most of us want, so these flights might be better suited to those who don’t have a busy day planned after landing.
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