I recently wrote an article for www.topratedtravel.net on how to find cheap flights that I thought I would share here. For those that are lazy here are the main takeaways:
- Book Ahead – Most of the time it pays to plan ahead.
- Be Spontaneous – Being open to your getaway can save you big $$
- Keep Your Eyes Open – Compare and save…then compare again.
- Don’t be Picky – Being flexible with your dates will pay off.
- Stay in the Know – Follow airlines on social media outlets for latest sale info.
- Rewards Programs – Look for signing bonuses with airline rewards programs
- Buy the Whole Package – Sometimes it pays to package your vacation.
Bottom line, Research = Reward. Putting the extra time in searching and comparing can really pay off.
Rising costs of oil and economic instability all over the globe has played its part in the rising price of travel. Flight costs can account for your biggest expenditure when planning a trip and can leave you with little money to play with at your destination. These days it is getting harder and harder to find seat sales that actually seem like a sale. Budget-minded travelers who are savvy, patient, flexible, and open-minded can stretch their dollar the farthest.
You know you want to go to the Caribbean in 6 months? Great! Start searching for deals now. Booking well in advance can save you a lot of money, epically if you are traveling during your destinations peak season or it falls on a holiday. For popular routes and destinations rates will only go up.
If you know you want to go to the Caribbean in 6 months but don’t care where in the Caribbean, you can save. Searching for multiple destinations offers you a better chance of finding a deal. This of course only works if you’re happy with a warm beach and a cold drink on some island and not a specific island. Waiting until the last minute can also benefit this kind of traveler. Some companies specialize in sell off vacations and last minute deals. Cheap seats and packages from these operators can go on sale anywhere from a month to the day of travel.
Keep your Eyes Open
Like any purchase, it pays to shop around. Thankfully with searching for flights there are plenty of tools available to you. You could spend hours searching individual airline sites looking at various connections and itinerary options until your hair falls out…or you can try kayak.com or google flights. These travel sites will do the legwork for you by searching all available options to get you where you want to go at the lowest price possible. These sites can also break up the legs of your flight between various airlines to achieve the optimal price. Some sites let you set email alerts for when your desired flight hits a user entered price threshold. This is a good way to catch a brief sale.
Don’t be Picky
Being flexible with your travel dates can drastically reduce costs. Typically midweek departures are cheapest. Flying on a Wednesday can sometimes be a fraction of the cost than if you leave on a Friday or Saturday. Time of day is also a big factor. Early morning flights are usually more expensive than afternoon flights. Overnight trips can be uncomfortable but can leave more travel money in pocket as tickets are typically cheaper and can mean one less night paying for a hotel.
Stay in the Know
Signing up for airline e-newsletters is a good way to get early notice of an upcoming seat sale. Company newsletters often include promotion codes that can be used online for deeper discounts. Following airlines on Twitter and other social media sites is also a good way to find out about promotions and deals. Most sites run contests using social media and are good a way to try and win a free trip.
Another way to try and save on flight costs is by utilizing an airlines loyalty program. Most airlines these days are affiliated with some sort of frequent flyer program. If you fly a lot for business you can rack up points quickly by choosing the same airline for your flights. If you are not a business traveler then getting a credit card that is linked to an airline rewards program is a good idea. Most cards offer incentives to sign up like a welcome bonus that gets you enough points for a short haul trip or a companion ticket at a significantly reduced rate. Use this card like cash and buy everything with it. Even a pack of gum or a bus ticket if possible, it all adds up. Keep an eye out for promotions that offer bonus points and exploit the ones that suite you best. Do shop around with credit cards and read the fine prints and disclaimers as some cards carry hefty annual fees and high interest rates.
Buy the Whole Package
Sometimes purchasing a packaged vacation can get you a break on your trips overall price. Most airlines and every online or brick and mortar travel agency offer packaged deals that can combine flight, hotel, and/or car rental. By purchasing airline seats in bulk, these agencies can negotiate a better rate and can do the same with hotel rooms. Note that cost is usually per person, which can make the hotel price seem better than it is. Also be aware of hidden fees, blackout dates, and taxes, as they can make good deals turn sour.
Note: All credit for this article goes to www.topratedtravel.net
This is very useful information. I would surely take it. Thank you so much.
You are very welcome!
Good info, thanks man. What about standby? Does it work for saving money? How does one do it?
Generally, there is no saving money with standby. You can’t just go to the airport and standby for a flight, unless you are an airline employee or have some sort of relationship with an airline employee. I did break down all of the standby policies for US Airline on my blog, here is the post. http://puckinflight.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/airlines-101-standby-policies-across-us-airlines/
Thanks John.. helpful stuff.
bonus – know someone working in travel sales – this is now me ; )
@kristenmacgregor:disqus Awesome! I will be picking your brain soon!
@disqus_U4B7ikf7Ge:disqus Thanks for the insight and info!. Sadly it sounds like the days of standby tickets are long gone…that is of course unless the airline oversells their flight and bumps you!
Good tips Shaun, thanks for this!
No problem Aaron!
You need to add your skyscanner tips to this!
Good call! I started using skyscanner after this article was posted so maybe I will make another booking tip post soon.
I totally agree, booking in advance results in cheaper flights. Have you tried the adventure travel app for hopupon.com for cheap flights? It adds stopover(s) on to your journey and saves you money