12 Ways to save big bucks on flights that you never knew about
How to save?
Airfare can often be the most expensive part of any vacation, especially if you’re purchasing tickets for the whole family. But the way that you book those tickets can actually affect the price. After reading these tips compiled from experts in the industry, we promise that you’ll never buy airline tickets in the same way again!
1/Use the right website
KidTripster Tip: While Momondo should be your go-to website, know that Southwest Airlines won’t show up on it or any of the other aggregator sites. So also check Southwest’s website directly before making your final booking.
2/Search for one passenger at a time
Even if you’re buying tickets for a family, search for one ticket at a time. Why? The airline may only have one ticket at $150 and the remainder at $250. If you search for four tickets, only the $250 price will appear. Using this cost-cutting strategy does mean that you have to buy tickets separately, and you may not be able to reserve seats next to each other. However, you can always call the airlines afterward and try to adjust the seating assignments or if necessary, ask a fellow passenger to switch seats on the plane.
3/Search in other currencies
Airlines adjust their pricing based on local markets, so find a currency that is really weak and search for flights in that currency. Your flight could come up 50% cheaper! Then at the checkout, go ahead and pay using your credit card.
Unfortunately, not all airlines will give you this option. But you can try it on airline websites that allow you to "choose your country;" in essence, you're choosing your "point of sale." You can select a country where the currency is weak - or - try choosing the country that you're flying to - or - try the country where the airline is based.
KidTripster Tip: You'll want to use a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee (a fee to convert from a foreign currency to U.S. dollars). Otherwise, you'll need to consider that fee when calculating your potential savings.
4/Fly on the cheapest days
Based on flight data in the Airlines Reporting Corporation's 2018 Air Travel Outlook Report, the best day to start an international journey is on a Thursday or Friday. However, know that if a holiday falls on that day, all bets are off. The most expensive day to start an international flight? Saturday and Sunday.
The cheapest days for departing on domestic economy flights vary widely by origin, so don’t worry about that when booking.
Consider using an app called Hopper. Hopper predicts when your flight will be the cheapest based on historical data. While you can buy tickets on Hopper, you also can just use it for the information.
5/Know which day to book
Have you ever heard that Tuesday is the best day to book a flight? Well, according to the Airlines Reporting Corporation's 2018 Air Travel Outlook Report, that’s simply not true. It’s actually better to get online on Sunday to book your next flight.
6/Plan way ahead
If you book at least 57 days in advance of your domestic trip, you’ll save an average of 10%, according to Frommer’s research. For flights to Europe, it’s 76 days in advance for an average savings of 11%. For the Caribbean, it’s 77 days in advance for an average savings of 15%. Off to Central or South America? Book 90 days in advance to save an average of 10%.
You’ve got to be more of a planner if you’re headed to the Middle East or Africa: 144 days for an average savings of 14%. The same is true of Asia and the Pacific: 160 days in advance for an average savings of 13%.
7/Consider alternative destinations
Google Flights has a useful map feature where you can set your departure city without inputing your destination. It allows you to move around the map and find cheaper fares to alternative cities that you may have otherwise missed. The feature is particularly useful if you’re looking for an inexpensive flight to Europe. You may fly into a city like Copenhagen on a deal and then catch another cheap regional flight to your final destination.
KidTripster Tip: Pick places no one wants to go. Everyone wants to travel to Hawaii or Paris, but there are 196 countries in the world! Pick a hidden gem that’s maybe not as popular like Slovenia or Guadeloupe. Or do like travel expert Peter Greenberg advises and pick a place and time when no one wants to go, like Rome in November or any city after a terrorist attack. It may sound crazy, but that can be one of the cheapest (and maybe even safest) times to visit.
Some international airlines offer discounts if you book multiple flights. For example, if you book your international flight to Australia with Qantas, you can then get discounts on in-country flights through the Qantas Explorer program. So visit Sydney, Brisbane, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru all is one trip!
Airlines are making it more difficult to redeem your earned miles for free flights. Some carriers are now taking into account not just how many miles you fly, but how much you paid for your ticket and how often you fly on that airline. It’s a system that rewards frequent business travelers but not less frequent family flyers.
To earn miles faster, consider applying for a credit card where you earn miles for a particular airline on every dollar you spend. Many travel experts we spoke to at this year’s New York Times Travel Show recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred or American Express Platinum cards.
KidTripster Tip: Don’t hoard your frequent flier points! Redeem them; saving them is useless. The best way to use them is to call the airline or credit card company that you’ve accrued them with. Pick a place that you’ve never been and a time when no one wants to go there. Or call and say, “I want to use my miles to go to Ireland. When can I use them?” Can’t get a free ticket? Use your miles for an upgrade instead (which can get you more legroom and save you on luggage fees), but whatever you do, use them!
12/Talk to a real person
Maybe you don’t book online at all! It may sound old school, but travel experts like Peter Greenberg say we’re all operating on the myth that all the available inventory is online, when, in fact, only about 52% is available on the internet. So do your research online and then pick up the phone to have a conversation with a human being. Calling the airlines or a travel agent directly can save you money.
Marcia Breen lives in Manhattan with her husband and 3-year-old daughter and spends her days exploring the city and writing about it. Well, that and doing laundry and making meals her kid won’t eat.