If you can save money on air tickets, that dream trip to Paris can become a reality!
Airfare can be the most expensive component of a trip. Even "cheap" flights are becoming more expensive, with all of the additional charges being piled on these days.
There are many ways to save money on air, but if you're not going far it may be more cost-effective to drive to your destination.
If you have to fly, how can you save a little so you can afford those souvenirs?
- You can save money on air if you do your homework!
Start with a large search engine like Travelocity. Travelocity SAVES You 20% or MORE on Air Fares.
Travelocity is the largest travel-related search engine, and they have bought out some of the others. So why search dozens of sites, when you can just check one?
- If possible, book your flights for mid-week instead of the weekend (Friday and Monday are included in weekend traffic). There is less traffic mid-week and more seats will likely be available. (If you are using frequent flier miles, tickets may be more readily available mid-week, also).
- Purchase your tickets at least 14 days in advance to save the most money. While there are occasional last-minute deals if seats are unsold, that doesn't happen often. It's more likely the fares will be higher.
- Off-season travel is also likely to have more available seats, both paid and for frequent fliers. May, June, September, and October have nice weather, fewer crowds - and more seats on the plane.
- Look for new routes - if an airline has added another flight to a familiar destination, or has just started flying to a new destination, there will be more seats available. (Keep your mind open about destination if you are determined to save money on your trip).
- As with airline miles, seats become available 11 months in advance of the flight - but in this case, booking too early might not be your best bet. Check the Bing.com airfare predictor for predictions on when fares will go down (or up) and book at the best fare. Yapta is another site that will also let you know when fares have gone down. Go to www.yapta.com and download the program.
- Check alternate airports for better fares. For example, I live in Milwaukee, but often fly out of Chicago's O'Hare to save money on air because fares can be cheaper. There are more flights out of O'Hare, so there is a better selection of flights and fares. Be careful with this, however - after paying for gas and higher parking rates, the cost savings may disappear.
- Watch for extra fees! Fuel costs are driving up the cost of flying, but airlines want to keep ticket prices low. So they are tacking on extra charges for things that used to be free. Paying for meals onboard was just the beginning; many airlines now charge for seat assignments, curbside check-in, checking a second bag (and sometimes ALL bags!)and checked bags weighing more than 50 pounds. That cheap ticket could end up costing you plenty with extra fees, so check the rules before you click "buy"! Check out this chart to see what fees your airline charges, and calculate the real cost of your trip!
Obviously, one of the best ways to save money on air is to avoid paying for tickets in the first place! Airlines are getting more difficult to deal with in terms of redeeming miles, but it is still possible to get free tickets.
Many (if not most) airlines are now awarding "points" based on how much you pay for tickets you purchase, so, in reality "miles" are a thing of the past. But buying airline tickets will still generate points that you can use for future tickets, so choose the airlines that you like to fly (or that have the most flights to places you visit frequently), and keep track of your points!
- Use frequent flier miles wisely. In general, 1 mile/point = 1.2 cents. So 25,000 miles (typical requirement for a domestic ticket) = $300. If you can buy the ticket for less than $300, buy it - and save your miles for another time (or a longer trip).
- If you use frequent flier miles, try to book them as early as possible. Most airlines open up reservations to frequent fliers about 11 months in advance of the flight. There are a lot more seats available early on, so don't wait too long. Start checking the airline's website daily almost a year in advance, so you don't miss your chance.
- If you can't find seats on the flights you want when you try online, call the airline's 800# and ask for a Frequent Flier agent. They may be able to help (although there is no guarantee).
- As a last resort, airlines will sometimes open up a few unsold seats to frequent fliers at the last minute (about 10 days in advance). This is iffy,so be prepared to pay for your ticket.
With a little work, you can save money on air and keep the cost of flying down!