Flight travel deals are out there, but not many travel industry insiders are offering them up, without you first asking about them. So, if you want to get the best flight travel deals, you are going to have to do some research on your own. This article will go a long way toward helping get you started in that direction. The following basic tips are available to anyone (i.e., they don’t require “insider connections” to achieve good results).
1) Book in advance. So basic and well known, I almost feel guilty offering it as a tip. Nonetheless, it can save you big money. Reserve your flight a month in advance, optimize your discount. Reserve your flight the week before, expect to pay premium prices.
2) Don’t fly during regular business hours. Airline flight is a supply-and-demand business. If you insist on flying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. – when available seats are at their minimum – then plan on paying higher prices. Flying “the red-eye” – when LOTS of seats are available – can greatly lower the cost of your ticket.
3) Check the prices for flying out of/into an alternate airport. Sometimes, you’ll get a better deal by driving to a larger, metropolitan area, rather than insisting on a flight departing from your local “community” airport. On the other hand, Los Angelenos, for example, know that driving to one of the smaller airports – NOT known as LAX – can save them mucho dinero.
4) Ask the airline to adjust the price of your ticket to reflect the current price they are charging – IF, that is, prices have gone down since you booked your ticket. Few people do this – or even KNOW about this – but the airlines will adjust the price if you ask them to. Just don’t expect them to do it without your prompting them first.
5) Don’t park your car at the airport, if possible. Parking fees amass quickly – and might even offset all of the savings you managed to get through your other money-saving efforts. I once took a trip to Hawaii when I was fresh out of high-school (about 30 years ago…gulp!), and upon returning to Denver after two weeks, the cost of parking the car for all of that time came to over $100, leaving the four of us who went on the trip arriving home with nothing but coins in our pockets and fumes in the gas tank by the time we completed our 300-mile car ride home from the airport. Obviously, not parking at the airport isn’t always an option. So, at the very least, consider the cost of parking your car in your budgeting plans.
6) Try to fly “off-season.” Granted, flying to Hawaii for the Christmas holiday sounds very appealing when your home is under several feet of snow, but flying there in the summer can be much cheaper. I, for one, found Hawaii in July to be very enjoyable – especially with that extra cash for Mai-Tais on the beach.
7) Check into package deals. Sometimes you can save a lot of money by purchasing a package deal, where you buy your flight, your motel room, and possibly even a rental car all in one “package deal.” You might even get some extras thrown in, like a luau (in Hawaii), or a Broadway show (in New York City).
8) Bulk discounts. Sometimes organizations or communities arrange trips for their members, saving each individual some cash in the deal. Senior communities commonly do this with trips to Las Vegas, for example.
9) Check with the aggregators. These outfits – aggregators – will compare multiple airlines and travel agencies, at once – finding you the best deal from all the places they dig around into. Of course, an aggregator can’t possibly check ALL travel outlets, so try a few aggregators, and then try going directly through the airline that the aggregators deemed cheapest. You may find that the “going direct” to the airline of your choosing might reap better discounts for you, through frequent-flier programs, and such – not to mention allowing you to bypass the travel agency fees (minimal though they are).