10 Killer Tips to Save Money on Flights
By Nisch Pathania, Aug 19th, 2013
Nisch is the co-founder of DealScoopr.com. He has worked in the travel industry for over 8 years and enjoys traveling to off beat destinations.
At DealScoopr, our mission is to help you find the best travel deals. After working for many years in the travel space and personally booking countless flights, I’ve learned some ways to pay less and fly more. Here are my top 10 Killer Tips to Save Money on Flights:
1. Flexibility in your Departure & Return days
It’s a known fact that Airlines fluctuate airfares based on demand. Most travelers are looking to fly at the end of the work week, so airlines naturally charge a premium for those flights.
I’ve had the luxury of having flexible work hours and this comes in handy when I’m making any travel plans. I can take a Friday or Monday off work if needed. If you have that kind of flexibility you can save some serious cash.
For Weekend or 3-5 day trips
Departure days: Look for flights departing on Thursday evening or early Friday morning (before 9am).
Return days: Sunday evenings and early Monday mornings are popular flying times for business travelers as they need to attend meetings/conferences. I like to fly back early on a Sunday or later on Monday evening.
For longer trips (international flights)
When traveling internationally, you will most likely be taking a longer vacation. So look at departing and returning on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. According to our flight search data these days are the least expensive.
2. Plan ahead for Holidays, Long Weekends & Events
This year I attended SXSW in Austin. As you can imagine, the airfares to Austin were crazy for that week. Some folks I know paid upwards of $1k for flights which normally cost around $300. I was able to save nearly $500 by flying 2 days earlier & returning on a Monday. It also helped that I planned a couple of months in advance and created a Fare Alert to track the prices. You can track fares here.
3. Fly into Nearby Airports
Major cities are often served by multiple airports with varying airfares. For e.g. I have family that lives in Orange County, CA. Whenever I visit them, I look for flights to John-Wayne airport (SNA) - which happens to be a 20 min drive from their house. However, I also check fares to the Long Beach (LGB) airport. LGB is served by JetBlue (budget carrier) and I’m usually able to save $50-60 per ticket.
4. Extra stops and Longer Layovers
This is one tip that I only like to use as my last resort. Who likes to sit in an airport if you don’t have to - unless you’re Snowden? But longer flights with additional stops can be a lot cheaper than the most direct options. I use this usually when I’m traveling international during peak travel seasons.
5. Don’t ‘Discount’ Budget Airlines
Budget airlines like JetBlue and Southwest, RyanAir and EasyJet are known for their competitive fares and a no-frills experience. Most of these carriers (except JetBlue) do not show up on sites like Priceline & Expedia, so you need to search directly on their websites.
The gap between budget and traditional airlines has vastly reduced in the past few years. Larger carriers have started slapping fees for better seats & checked bags. It’s interesting to note that while JetBlue & Southwest offer free checked bags, the major US domestic carriers tend to charge for bags! See this baggage fee chart. So consider those baggage fee savings in the overall cost if you do plan to check-in bags.
6. Don’t miss out on Flight Deals
Airlines are updating their inventory every other second. So if you find a fare that is really good, don’t wait for more than an hour or two. Book it fast. At DealScoopr we offer our customers the fastest access to great airfares before they run out. These are flight deals for destinations you are likely to visit based on your travel profile and dates (weekends!). Sign up Here
7. Track Airfares with Fare Alerts
Now if you must travel on specific dates, you can setup a Fare Alert. Just tell us your travel dates and how much are you willing to pay. We’ll do all the tracking for you and alert you when fares drop. I use this all the time when planning for a trip when I don’t have much flexibility on the dates.
8. 1+1 = Roundtrip
Often it’s possible to get some extra savings by booking 2 oneway flights instead of the usual roundtrip. Kayak calls these ‘Hacker fares’. I’ve usually found the hassle of managing my bookings with two separate airlines a bit too much to justify these. Also if your plans change you could be looking at paying two change fees. Tread lightly here…
9. Mileage Credit cards
You’ve all seen those credit card offers promising 40,000 points/miles for signing up. These can actually work pretty well if you “play your cards right”. If you want to rack up some free miles through these offers here are a couple of things you want to make sure:
These can be high for the reward cards. I usually look for one’s with no fee for the first year.
Minimum spend amounts & time periods
These offers will almost always require you to spend a minimum amount in a fixed time period. For example you’ll need to spend $3000 in first 6 months to get the 40000 bonus miles/points. Be sure you can do this by charging major purchases and bill on these cards.
Also consider the APR % and other offer details closely. But with some smart financial planning you can rack over 100K mileage points with just 2-3 good credit card offers in one year. This can be used for free flights, class upgrades or even free hotel nights.
Most airlines have mileage programs which offer frequent travelers some added benefits such as priority boarding, no-checked bag fees and free upgrades. You can further supplement your status by signing up for a airline credit card like Delta SkyMiles from Amex.
I’d love to hear what tips you are using to save money on flights.