There are so many opportunities to pay more when flying these days. Looking to check a bag or enjoy something more than a few pretzels on your next flight? Hand over your credit card.
For many people, the overspending starts when booking a ticket. Often, that’s because travelers don’t fully research before buying.
To help remedy this epidemic, here are several ways to save a few bucks on your next airfare purchase.
1. Be flexible with your schedule
With our often harried schedules, it’s easy to consider flying only at specific times. But, that can be a costly mistake. One way to avoid this trap is to look at alternate times if schedules allow. Sometimes leaving an hour or two later — particularly if it’s off-peak for business travelers — can save big bucks.
2. Consider a connection
If you don’t mind a longer trip and potential layover, consider a flight with a connection. Sometimes direct flights are more expensive. Granted, this won’t work for everyone. But, if you’re willing, this will allow you to test whether it’s the journey, not the destination.
3. Look at alternate airports
If you’re flying to a smaller market, you don’t have a lot of options. But, if you’re traveling to a larger market such as New York City or Chicago, consider all of the airports, even regional options. If you’re going to have to take a cab or public transportation to another part of town no matter where you arrive, it may not add any more time to the trip.
4. Explore a different airline
With frequent flier miles and airline status at stake, it’s easy to continue flying with the same carrier. That’s particularly true if you live in a city where one of the major airlines is based. But, always check out the competition — and not just the budget carriers.
5. Check early and often
Experts disagree on when is the best time to book a ticket, but many experts say it’s at least three weeks before the departure date. In my experience, start checking fares as soon as possible and check multiple sites, including third-party and airline sites. If you check fares incessantly throughout the course of the day and the price doesn’t change, AAA suggests deleting your browser’s cookies.
6. Travel wherever is cheapest
If you just want to travel and don’t have a particular destination in mind, jump at one of the travel bargains. Airlines will often offer deals to help fill empty flights. Maybe you’ll even find your new favorite destination.