10 Money Saving Hacks and Tips for Booking Airplane Flights
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Have a case of wanderlust?
We’ve got money-saving hacks and tips for booking airplane flights that’ll take you to wherever your urges lead – and it’s almost impossible not to get the urge to travel when you see fabulous pictures of vacations all over social media. So why pay a small fortune on the flight that gets you to those sandy beaches, snow-covered mountains, and everything in between?
Keep reading to save TONS on airfare for your next trip!
1. Strategically time the booking of your trip for discounts of up to 35%.
The whole “book on a Tuesday” or “book six weeks ahead” mantras have gone out the window since booking your flight isn’t a one-size-fits-all process anymore. With sites like Skyscanner, you can find your desired destination and your departing airport to get an estimation of the best time to book your flight. Based on the location, you’ll see savings ranging from 10-35% based on previous pricing trends.
If you still like to go by a general rule, their data shows that on average you should book two to three weeks ahead for domestic flights and two months ahead for international.
2. Call for special, unadvertised fares.
Not everyone is traveling for vacation. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re traveling due to a family death, military or government business, an international adoption, or if you’re over the age of 65, call the airline directly. They offer unlisted fares for passengers who have travel needs meeting certain requirements and will offer discounted rates based on those circumstances.
3. Go directly to the airlines for bargains.
There are TONS of booking sites that claim to advertise the lowest price from the majority of airlines, but that’s not always the case. Budget airlines like Southwest, JetBlue, and Allegiant don’t allow third party sites to aggregate their pricing. If you plan to travel with one of these airlines, check their websites separately to get a better idea of how much you could be saving by skipping the middleman. Other airlines to check include Frontier, Spirit, and Sun County Airline.
4. Consider booking a stopover fare for free flights or hotels.
Don’t stay in the airport during a layover. As implied by the name, a stopover fare is a flight you take when you stop at the layover. Typically these layovers last more than 24 hours, but most can be stretched for up to five days. This means you get a mini vacation on the way to your destination! The savings vary, but they have the potential to cover the cost of your hotel if you book as a package.
You may be asking, “Why would the airline allow this?” The reason you can score such hot deals on these types of airfares is that the airline wants to encourage tourism where they’re based. Tourists might end up shopping, dining, and hopefully (revisiting) the destination via their airline in the future, creating customer loyalty – which also makes them more money in the long run.
5. Avoid booking flights on Fridays and Sundays.
🎶 Everybody’s booking for the weekend. 🎶 Those might not be the exact words to the song, but nonetheless, it’s true! The most expensive days to fly are Friday and Sunday since they’re often the busiest. If you have wiggle room in your schedule to book on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or even a Saturday, you have a much better chance of scoring a deal on your flight.
6. Search with flexible dates to find the cheapest time frame.
If you’ve got time on your side and don’t need to book your flight for exact dates, check out low airfare finders on airlines like Southwest, Alaskan Air, United, and JetBlue. Their helpful calendars share the lowest fares on each day to make finding the cheapest itinerary possible.
If you don’t know the specific airline you want to fly, use Google Flights and switch the date range from “specific dates” to “flexible dates”. Then choose your duration and which month you’re considering travel.
7. Check sites like SecretFlying.com for crazy cheap airfares.
Everyone makes mistakes — even airlines. And sometimes incredibly cheap deals slip through the system. Luckily there are sites like SecretFlying who swoop down on these airfares and post them to their site, giving readers a booking advantage. The destinations, dates, and airlines all vary, but if you’re in the beginning stages of planning a trip, it’s worth giving them a look for a smokin’ hot flight deal.
8. Find all the flight info you need on Google Flights.
This was briefly mentioned earlier for its flexible date view, but Google Flights does it all. From seasonal price variations to popular destinations from your area to travel suggestions, you can find just about any flight booking info you could ask for on this site.
When you’re done looking at a specific trip, remember to save your itinerary to get email notifications if the price drops lower.
9. Check out Reddit’s r/Shoestring for frugal travel advice.
Reddit is constantly making our lives so much easier! Tap into the money-saving travel knowledge of the forum (subreddit) all about traveling on a shoestring budget. You’ll find suggestions for cheap airfare, hotels, activities, and more so you can make all your vacation arrangements no matter how little you want to spend on the trip.
10. Get money back for certain baggage fees through American Airlines.
The airline might owe you $200! American Airlines has been accused of overcharging customers for baggage fees in a recent class-action lawsuit. Due to a glitch in their system, the airline overcharged passengers on flights between July 2013 and June 2018 by “charging them to check one or more of their bags, despite promises that they could do so at no additional cost,” according to the settlement claim website.
So what does this mean for you as a customer of the airline? You could be entitled to $18.75 to $200 plus interest, depending on how much you paid in baggage fees!
Even if you’re not sure you’re entitled to compensation, you can submit a claim which will be verified by the American Airlines records to indicate if your trip was impacted. To submit a claim, head over to the baggage fee settlement website and fill out the online claim form or submit the form by mail.
Written by Emily for Hip2Save. Emily lives in Buffalo, NY where she spends her time drinking lots of coffee, scouring the internet for deals, and tackling DIY projects. She’s a big believer in self-care and living the fullest life possible, all while saving money of course.