Ways to Save on Flights
Traveling can get expensive, and usually the biggest chunk is the flight costs. There are a lot of tricks, websites, and planning tips folks can implement to find the best way to save money on flights so they can put that money to use in other areas like drinks! Ok, maybe not all drinks, but more money for fun!
A lot of travel sites like to give you the tip to apply for those reward credit cards, gain those miles, or sign up for the airlines frequent flyer program. While yes, I would say to do those things, it takes awhile to gain anything close to a free flight, unless you are constantly flying. These are few things you can do NOW to get a cheaper flight.
When to Travel
- Try not to plan your trips during the peak season. (Example: Going to Europe in the Summer, or Mexico during Spring Break.)
Europe looks great during all the other seasons too! You can really avoid crazy crowding, and the high flight costs by avoiding the Summer.
- Fly in/out on Tuesday and Wednesday. Less people fly on those days.
A lot of people are trying to get away for the weekend. They tend to fly out on a Friday and come back Sunday. To me, that’s not a nice little trip. That’s barely enough time to enjoy anything. I know some folks might find themselves having to travel just for the weekend. For those folks I say: I’m sorry.
- Avoid traveling on/around big holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, New Year’s, 4th of July, and Labor Day.
Tons of people travel for these holidays. Because the demand is super high the prices go way up. If you want to travel on these holidays try going somewhere driving distance away. Every Christmas I go back home to Buffalo. That would be a little shy of an hour flight from where I live, but the prices are upwards of $300 for a round trip flight. I just drive. It’s about a 6 hour drive. Road trips are great! Get your podcasts ready!
After the new year has come, traveling is great! Prices are down all around – flights, hotels, rentals, everything. No one wants to travel because they’ve spent so much over the holiday. Keep that in mind for your next trip.
I use a number of apps to first find out the ballpark figure to get to that destination. When I am first researching my next trip and all of them show me that it’ll be expensive no matter what time of year I travel, I’ll most likely go with a different destination. Or it gives me an idea of how much more I have to save, and how much more time off I need to take. If a place costs me over $500 to get there I will plan to extend my trip because I probably won’t be able to visit again and I want a whole experience while I’m there!
Google has really gotten to the forefront with getting people to check flight prices just by typing in 2 cities in the search bar. However, Google won’t get you the cheapest flight all the time. There have been claims that they are getting better with finding the cheapest flights, but I definitely don’t believe that for a second. They do have a nifty price graph I like to use.
I do, however, really like how they indicate when carry-on luggage is not included in the cost of your flight.
One weird item I need to discuss is Southwest. I love Southwest, outside of that open seating policy they have, but their flights do NOT show up in Google flights. If they do it shows the price as “unavailable.” If you are flying to one of their cities it’s worth just going to their site directly and looking at what they have. I’ve gotten some really good deals that way, not to mention they have some of the most genuinely nice staff!
One of my favorite sites is Skiplagged.com They do the “hidden city” search. Which means they have an algorithm that finds flights where the final destination isn’t pretty popular, but then the connecting city is a popular destination, and you can just hop off at that connection and get a major price cut in your flight.
One thing you should know is that you can NOT check bags with this option if you are booked for a city you are not going to end up in. You’re gonna rock that carry-on life to the fullest! For example: If you are flying to Chicago. Your flight begins in JFK, then you have a connection in Chicago, and the final city is Minneapolis. You’re going to want to leave the airport when you get to Chicago, but your bags will continue to Minneapolis if they were checked. When you decide to book something like this the site will tell you not to check any bags.
A lot of folks say that it is illegal to do this type of booking. Skiplagged went through a whole lawsuit about it, and they ruled in Skiplagged’s favor. Also, not all the flights that appear on their site and app are those types of flights. Some are straight forward. Just a regular flight. I really like the price line graph they have at the bottom of the app. But some passengers have been sued for doing the hidden city trick. This SmartTravel article discusses the risks.
I like the Hopper app. It has a plump lil bunny you can look at while browsing for flights. More importantly it tells you trends and shares the price patterns with your desired flight route. It’ll tell you if it knows based on patterns if the flight will raise or lower in price in the future. It gives you suggestions on whether or not it is the best time to book your flight. I love the visual aesthetic of this app a lot!
I use to book on this site/app so often. It was, for a time, the cheapest flight booking site. It is now something more like Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire, or Priceline. I don’t book on any of those sites. They end up being more expensive. Every now and then I look on these sites just to make sure the apps and sites I’m using are still the cheapest. The one thing I can say for this site/app is that it’ll show you the price of a flight on each day without selecting anything yet.
If you compare these photos from the photos from Skiplagged, CheapOAir is more expensive. It may not be a lot, but more expensive nonetheless. It’s the same exact flight, date, and airline.
I have my favorite apps when I decide to book flights, but I do a lot of research on so many different sites and apps to be sure that flight is the cheapest possible one. If you want to save on flights make sure to check a few places online before impulse booking. It can take a lot of time, but are you waiting for the train or bus? Start searching. Maybe you’re waiting at the doctors office, perfect time to start looking up flights!
You will find that a lot of popular destinations will have multiple airports. So, make sure to check all airports where you will be staying. In some cases it might be cheaper to fly into some place that isn’t the major airport for that area.
A lot of people will say that it’s worth it to go to a a different city altogether to fly out. Will it really cost you less to fly out of Boston, when you live in NYC? Yes! For some it might be worth considering. If you aren’t in a hurry you can score a really cheap bus ticket to that city, which will cost you time, not money. It depends on what you value more.
My last trip to the UK I was going to Cardiff,Wales. Well, flying into Cardiff was so expensive from Brussels! I flew into London instead and caught a National Express coach bus from London to Cardiff. I used the Busbud app. The Bus ticket was only $14.37! I saved well over $200 doing it this way. It was about a 3 hour bus ride, and if I can take a bus I will gladly do it! I must confess, I HATE flying! I like a good bus ride because I feel like I just see more.
This one is tricky! I have to talk about Spirit Airlines. I think their prices are really misleading. They charge you for a carry-on! To say I was very upset when airlines started charging for checked bags is a serious understatement. Charging for carry-on bags?! Spirit Airlines you must be out of your mind! I just can NOT ever justify a company doing this. I get it, it comes down to weight. Frontier does this, and United Airlines has now started doing this as well.
So, let’s look at the bottom price of Spirit Airlines. On the Skiplagged app the price of the Spirit Airlines NYC to Chicago flight is $126, but If you want to have a carry-on they want to charge you $55! ($52 for a checked bag. Why is it more expensive to have a carry-on bag?!) That price is insane! But if you booked with Delta it’s $130 with the price of the carry-on included. So, be careful with these discount airlines. Make sure to read all of their luggage requirements. Or just avoid discount airlines altogether.
I touched on this a little from above, but this can really add up. Most airlines will charge for checked bags. I do NOT ever check bags. I always just use a carry-on. I’ve traveled upwards of two weeks and managed to conquer packing my carry-on like a champ. I make sure not to pack things I don’t need. We can save packing tips for another post, just make sure to not go over that carry-on limit. I don’t usually get checked, but you’re screwed if someone decides to check your carry-on bag weight and you’re over the limit. They will make you throw stuff out.
Outside of price, I don’t check bags out of convenience. I don’t have to wait for the baggage claim, or risk the airline losing my bag. Luckily, it only happened to me once, where my bag ended up on a flight the day after I arrived. Either way I still got my bag, but I was really nervous I was about to be SOL without my luggage.
Subscribe to Newsletters
I get newsletters from a lot of different travel websites just to stay up-to-date with airfare gossip. There are always deals out there. It helps just to stay informed. I have all of them go to my secondary email, and I look when I’m curious about a new place want to go to to see a ballpark price. I’m Subscribed to the site below to get more details about travel deals.
There are so many ways to save on flights! Do you have a flight booking tip? Tell us below in the comments section. Let me know if any of these tips you use already. Hope everyone gets a cheap flight to their next dream destination!