Air Travel Tips: It’s All About Saving $
If you’re like me, you do a lot of research before buying anything over $100 or so. Hopefully this guide on air travel tips will be a big time-saver for you as you plan your next trip. I’ve consulted a variety of travel experts to bring you a complete guide on how to get great deals on your next flight.
Online Bidding Sites
Research average flight costs before bidding on airplane tickets at sites like skyauction.com.
You enter desired destinations and airfare amounts, then wait for airlines to accept or decline presented offers. Choose this option if plans are flexible for greater discounts. Heed the following warnings from USA Today Travel:
- Double-check departing airports.
- Flights may leave from smaller surrounding airports for better discounts.
- Confirm all travel plans before placing a bid.
- Tickets are subject to non-refundable fees and do not permit cancellations.
Using Travel Agents
Since travel plans are what they do every day, agents can help avoid unforeseen problems, including flight cancellations and / or delays.
Industry connections and insider knowledge add up to competitive airfares.
Travel agents can get you special deals or upgrades that can add value to your travel package. Examples: getting hard to find, last-minute tickets and helping you avoid unforeseen snafus in your plans.
Check to see if the agency charges fees or commissions—many do. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, however. The deals and discounts you receive may justify the commission on the package.
On the other hand, an agent may have their commission in mind rather than getting you the best deals. Do some basic research on travel costs so that you’ll know whether you are being helped or taken advantage of. Most travelers use agencies for more elaborate, expensive trips rather than a short, simple round trip to a single destination.
Timing Is Everything
If you are handling your own travel plans, here are a few tips concerning when you buy. Plan early to score cheaper airfares. Purchase tickets 21 to 45 days in advance for bigger savings. Stay away from weekend departures; look for midweek travel dates. Snatch up discounted tickets during the week around midnight Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Look for last special deals on unsold seats approximately three days before desired departure dates. Also, avoid flying the week before or after a major holiday.
Flight Reward Programs / Loyalty Points
Airline reward programs are worth consideration, as they can get you reduced or free airfares. Every major airline offers incentives to encourage repeat business. Here is an overview of how it works:
- Travelers sign up for a particular program during the booking process or shortly before take-off. In most cases, membership is free.
- Each trip booked using airline loyalty numbers generates points used for seating upgrades or airfare costs on later flights. Partnerships accrue points on outside airlines working in conjunction with main carriers.
- Some airlines offer credit cards that generate flight points for every dollar spent.
- Approach point brokers with caution. Smartertravel.com indicates individuals purchase loyalty points from frequent flyers and sell them to people looking to reduce flight costs. People caught using purchased points are subject to flight cancellation.
You can contact customer service representatives for additional information on loyalty point redemption. Some programs allow points to expire if no travel activity occurs for a certain period. Ask about fees associated with using loyalty points for travel.
Air Travel Wrapup
Whether you prefer technology or in-person services, a little research, early planning and patience can go a long way in saving time and money. Do-it-yourself types should carefully research all flight options before plunking down money. Travelers using agency assistance should research and communicate their needs to fully leverage an agency’s resources while avoiding being taken for a ride—financially.
First Time Flying?
See our complete First Time Flyer’s Guide on what to expect at the airport and on the flight. Plus, more tips on getting great deals on airfare!