Whether you are planning the next family vacation, spontaneously jet-setting across the country, or just traveling for work, saving money on flights is no easy task. That being said, despite a ton of booking myths propagated over the years that do next to nothing for your wallet, there are quite a few methods you can employ to save some money on your next airline ticket.
And that’s exactly why we’re here.
In an effort to weed through what works and what doesn’t, we have compiled a list of the 10 Best Ways to Save Money on Flights.
So, if you’re tired of breaking the bank every time you want to take a trip, keep reading.
1. Take The Myths With A Grain Of Salt
If you have ever brought up the fact that you’re planning a trip in the near future, any given site you search or person you tell will, no doubt, have loads of ‘tips and tricks’ to save on flights.
From searching in incognito mode to booking your flight on a Tuesday, there are all sorts of unproven hacks out there.
But the bottom line is that there is no magic method to out-maneuver the pricing algorithms.
Airline flight prices are determined based on a number of evolving factors including weather, time of year, major global pandemics, competitor prices, and much more. And while these myths might have worked at one point, the fact that they are now more well-known means contingencies have been put in place to make them obsolete. Or worse, make flights more expensive.
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2. Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates And Times
With the myths out the window, one of the absolute best ways to save on flights is to be flexible with your travel dates.
While that isn’t always possible, as the necessity for flights can show up out of the blue and require a specified time or immediate departure—if your plan can be flexible, make it so.
When possible, do a cost-analysis between multiple flights and times. You’d be surprised how often flying out sooner could actually afford you another night’s stay in a hotel.
Additionally, be flexible on the time of day you’re flying—don’t be afraid to choose the redeye or early morning flight. After all, there’s nothing better than kicking back, sleeping through a three-hour flight, and waking up where you wanted to be.
Ultimately, the more flexible you are, the better chance you will have to save money.
3. Avoid Hidden Fees
Airlines, like hotels, are notorious for hidden fees–the smaller ‘budget’ airlines that boast the lowest prices, especially so.
Therefore, whenever you book your flight make sure you know how much checked luggage costs, as well as carry-ons, booking fees, early-boarding, premium seating, and food/drink during flight—not to mention, the potential upcharges for changing your flight or cancellation fees.
4. Plan Your Flight, Then Your Trip
In addition to flexibility, before you book a hotel, cruise, or a cabin on slopes, check out the flights for that entire month. You can even use Google Flights to lay out the trip week by week and see which day would be most cost-effective. Honestly, you might be surprised by how much the prices can change from one week to the next.
To put it simply, while there’s no sure-fire way to guess when prices will be least expensive—it’s always best to book ahead. Of course, there are times where you might get lucky and stumble across a ‘flash-sale’ for your exact destination. However, in general, the farther out you plan to book your flight, the better chance you’ll have to find the lowest possible price.
5. Work For The Airline Industry
While my intention isn’t to change your career path, there are tons of benefits to working for an airline. And, though the benefits might change from airline to airline, most airlines will offer free standby flights for you, a buddy or spouse, and sometimes your children.
A quick summary, booking a standby flight means that an individual has the opportunity to board a flight so long as there are seats available. While levels of standby are often determined by seniority level or ‘first-come-first-served’—strategically booking standby flights can have you traveling cross-country or worldwide for next to nothing.
Now, I realize that an airline career isn’t for everybody. However, if you’re looking for a great way to save money on plane tickets, there aren’t many better, or more cost-effective ways to travel the world than working for an airline.
6. Use Apps And Websites Catered To Travel
If you want to save money on flights, we recommend searching through as many travel sites or apps as possible. To name a few, you could start with Expedia, Priceline, Hopper, Skyscanner, and Google Flights.
Truthfully, once you get a few bookings under your belt you will come to discover which services tend to offer the best prices.
Oh, and if you really want to get technical, many sites will allow you to set up alerts that will notify you of any price drops–and we highly recommend you do so.
7. Limit Your Luggage
One of the quickest ways to increase the cost of your airfare is to pay for multiple checked bags. So, in addition to ‘watching out for hidden fees’, one of the best ways to save money on flights is to pack light.
In other words, if the trip is a week or less, odds are that you can get by with a carry-on suitcase and one additional item (i.e., a backpack, purse, or laptop bag).
Unless you happen to be moving and need to fly your entire wardrobe, try your best to consolidate your luggage.
To put it simply, if you want to save money on airfare, pack light.
8. Don’t Always Fly Non-Stop, Or Just One Airline
In searching for flights, you might encounter a lot of cheaper flights with various connections. While layovers can oftentimes be tedious, they are also beneficial if you’re trying to save some money.
So, if you’re willing, take connections to save on airfare.
Additionally, as an added method to save money, mix and match airlines to make the most cost-effective trip. For example, you could fly a regional, budget airline to New York, and then book another airline to make the jump across the pond.
Ultimately, you just have to choose between the cost of airfare and ease of travel.
9. Look For Other Discounts
Beyond working for the airline industry, there are also discounts for other, specified groups.
For example, some airlines offer discounts of up to 20% for students or seniors. Additionally, many airlines offer discounts to military or healthcare workers.
Just remember, discounts vary from airline to airline. So, be sure to check your chosen airline’s website or call their customer service line whenever you’re booking a flight.
10. Sign Up For Special Deals
Lastly, if you want to save money on flights one of the best things you can do is sign up to receive special flight deals through multiple airlines and booking sites.
While this often requires flexibility of travel, you’d be amazed at the kind of deals you’ll receive through email.
You could also try signing up for newsletters from Airfarewatchdog or Scott’s Cheap Flights to discover trips around the U.S.—or Secret Flying, and The Flight Deal to find more global adventures.
Bonus Tip: Look For Package Deals
In addition to all the other tips in this article, you should also try looking for package deals.
Some trips and locations offer luxurious stays with airfare as part of the bundle. And, while not all of these packages offer great discounts on flights, the overall discount you receive might actually work out better for your wallet.
While there are a number of myths about saving money on airline travel that don’t hold water, there are still a number of practical methods that you can employ.
Whether you simply plan your flights well ahead of time or sign up for deals through any number of booking services—airline travel doesn’t always have to break your budget.