Here’s another article in this money saving series to help you save on Air Fare.
Sometimes you just have to fly. Everyone has their own reason. Regardless of our family saving money I did have to buy airline tickets a few months ago to attend the wedding of my sister. As much as our whole family wanted to go we had to make the decision that only I could go to this one. That is one of our first considerations on saving money. It would have been $3000 all of us to go, but we knew that the furlough is coming and will affect our family so we decided it would only be me.
I buy all my airline tickets online. I can find the better deals and look for the times I want to fly. I recommend using a search Engine like Travelocity, Orbitz or Cheap Tickets. There are more out there than those you just need to find the one you like. Here’s a quick tip from Reader TJ about search engines, “There are several airlines who choose not to participate in the mentioned search engines (Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia…) including Southwest Airlines. If you are lucky enough to have Southwest at your airport, check their rates first. Then go to the search engines to see if they can beat it. Another alternative is to go directly to the Airlines website. They may be $5-$10 lower than the search engines.”
I know there are people who do use Priceline where you can name your own price for a plane ticket. Sometimes the airlines will accept your bids and you can get cheap planet tickets. There is a downfall to using this system. The airline gets to pick your itinary. That means they pick what time your flights leave, layovers, cities and more. The reason I don’t like this is because I usually have a time schedule to keep. They can have you fly out and between layovers you may not arrive until the next day. This is very hard to do with children. If you don’t have a schedule to keep and don’t have to worry about others this may be a good option for you.
I prefer using Travelocity myself. I like that I can pick an option to search 1 – 3 days around my original travel date:
This allows you to see lower airfares in a range of days like this:
The highlighted area show the original dates I put in. But if i change my dates a bit i can get a lower fare. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t picked the option to display other flight dates.
CAUTION: You need to be aware when you use places other than the actual airline to book your tickets if there is some type of problem it can be a pain to have it fixed. I have never had a problem, but I do know others who have because they needed to change a portion of their ticket. You have to deal with the actual company that booked the ticket to make any changes. You cannot call the airline to make those changes. With a lot of outsourcing this can be difficult. If you think you will need to make changes to your ticket it may be best to call the airline directly and book your ticket with them.
No matter how you shop for tickets there are a couple things to keep in mind:
- It’s cheaper to have a 14 – 21 day notice to fly.
- Check for hidden fees (See Below)
- Sometimes if you wait until the last minute you can pick up airline tickets for less because the airline wants to fill the flight (this is risky and doesn’t always work)
- It’s cheaper to fly on a Tuesday or Thursday. It’s EVEN cheaper to actually book and pay for your flights on a Tuesday or Thursday. Have I confused you?
Fly Tue/Thurs & Book Tues/Thurs
For example, I want to fly the week of May 5th. The days that are cheapest are May 7th (Tues) and May 9th (Thurs). Today (the day I write this) is Friday. It will cost me even less to book either May 7 or 9th if I wait till Tuesday next week. My dad first told me this and I thought it was strange. So I tried it. I looked at rates for all the days of the week and Tues/Thursday’s were cheaper. Then I waited till the next Tuesday to check again and they had dropped even more. I did this for months just to test the theory and it was true every time. It may only be a few bucks, but I saved several hundred dollars on a ticket to my sisters wedding. I was flying across the county so I saved more than if I just flew one state away.
Just because a ticket fare looks low there may be hidden fees. Most airlines these days are charging for baggage. Each airline has a different price. When I flew on United Airlines it cost me $25 (within weight limits) for my first bag and $35 for my second. This was an extra $60 EACH WAY on top of my ticket price. Frontier Airlines charges $20 for each bag (within weight limits) so the same baggage would cost $40.
Southwest Airlines currently doesn’t charge for the 1st or 2nd bag, but if you decide to bring a third you will be charged a $75 fee. If your bags weight more than 50 lbs or are over-sized then you would be charged $75 per bag.
Whenever possible look for discounts. When I flew Frontier Airlines they asked for my ID. I showed them my military (dependent) ID and they waived all the baggage fees! We aren’t active duty anymore, but still waived the fees.
Some airlines will charge other hidden fees. Southwest airlines charges $12.50 per person for Early Bird Check in. I didn’t see hidden fees on United or Frontier.
You will find extra fees for pets, carrying dry ice, or certain sports equipment.
Get an Airline Credit Card
If you have an airline’s credit card, you can often accumulate miles and save on baggage fees. Try to get one without a yearly fee, unless you travel a lot.
Free Baggage With First Class – Cheap Upgrades Occasionally:
Recently on my flight with United they asked me if I wanted to upgrade. They asked me this the day before I was going to fly when I did my online check in. I had 3 flights to take and on one of them I could upgrade my ticket to first class for an additional $69. I did some checking and decided it was worth it – not because I would be in first class. It was worth it because first class passengers don’t have baggage fees and this applied to all 3 flights even though I only upgraded one leg of my trip. I was going to pay $60 for my checked baggage anyway so this was only $9 more. And to me riding in first class was worth $9! Besides free luggage I was also received 1st boarding on all my flights so I could be the first on and get comfy. On the leg of the trip with first class of course there were lots of nice benefits and I definitely enjoyed it.
On my return trip I checked all my flights to see if I could at least upgrade one and get the same benefits (especially no baggage fees.) There were none, but at least I tried.
Before you do any type of upgrade make sure you find out what it includes. If it is free baggage make sure to ask if it is for all legs of the trip. If I had tried to book a first class ticket it would have cost me 4 times the cost of my ticket, but by waiting till the last 24 hours I was able to get it for cheap!
Here are some helpful tips other readers left in my last article on Lowering Your Monthly Bills. I hope they help.
From Reader Roxanne: Try paying all or as many of your bills that you can a year in advance. For example, my husband and I have annihilated our credit card debt. But because our income is so low, we had to have our student loans deferred. That left our utilities, mortgage and insurances. Our health insurance comes out automatically on my husband’s check. Car insurance goes down by almost $30/month when paid with tax return money. We have our Dish bill which is at $20/month when paid for a year. Our home owner’s is in escrow as well as our taxes in our mortgage which leaves us with utilities. 3 bills a month, gas and groceries. That gives us enough to save our extra money every month for rainy days and higher utilities than we may have expected. One day, we hope to have saved enough that when we combine our tax returns with our savings (not retirement), we can kill those student loans!
From Jen’s friend Gloria: Paying car insurance in full when it’s due (usually every 6 months) amounts to quite a savings annually. Get your utilities set up on level pay . . . or, better yet, set up your own level pay. For example, we pay a set amount toward our water bill each month. It’s always much more than is due, especially during the winter months. But, when summer comes and we water the lawn, we don’t have to worry about how to come up with the money for a huge water bill in June, July, or August. Same goes for gas, electric, etc. That way you always know the amount of your monthly outgo. Keeps things balanced.
Here’s a roundup of the previous posts done in this series: