As a budget traveler, we all want to spend the least amount possible when we are traveling. As the same time, however, still, a lot of travelers make mistakes when planning for their trip and end up spending more money than they should have. If you are a frequent traveler, knowing how you can save every cent you have should be even more important to you.
Traveling by airplane has always been the most convenient yet the most expensive form of transport. Luckily, with the number of competition between the different airway companies, the price of the plane tickets has decreased significantly than before. Despite these changes, it still remains the most expensive way to get to a place to another.
When planning a trip, finding the cheapest plane ticket is the top priority of most of us. There are some airlines who offer economy tickets where the luxurious add-ons are omitted and therefore the ticket also becomes reasonably cheaper than the business class tickets. In order to find cheap flights, you are also able to check out the different travel search engines and can acquire different options in looking for cheap flights.
Then, you are easily able to directly browse through a particular airline website that caters to your particular purpose. More often than not, it is seen that booking directly on an airline's official website will be cheaper compared to other options.
However, you have to know that even though there are some airline companies that offer lower ticket price for their customers, knowing the right time to book is also important. But when really is the right time? The answer to that question, along with other useful information and techniques are written in this article.
1. Follow Airlines' Official Facebook Page
One of the best ways to promote a business is through Facebook, and as you may expect, most airlines take advantage of this. Many airline companies, both low-cost airlines, and premium airlines offer occasional seat sale deals, and one of the first places they announce it to is on their Facebook page.
But what if have a lot of Facebook friends and have liked numerous Facebook pages that fill up your newsfeed, you may ask. Well, there is a way for you to make sure not to miss a single post from airlines you want to fly with. Here's how:
Go to the Facebook page of the airlines you want to follow and click the ‘Like' button.
Once you like the page, the ‘Follow' button will turn to ‘Following.' Hover on it and click ‘See First.'
And there you have it! Every time an airline posts something, you will see them first thing on your Newsfeed. You will never miss out any promo or deals they offer again.
2. Subscribe to Email Alerts
If you don't have a Facebook account, you don't have to worry as there is another great way to be notified on the latest seat sale promos or deals airlines offer. How to do this, though?
Most airlines' official websites have a specific page where you can fill in your name, location, and email address to get your name listed on their mailing list, but not all websites are the same, so, we'll tell you a shortcut.
First step is to go to Google. On the search box, type in: "(Name of the airline) mailing list."On this example, we will use Emirates Airlines.
Hit Enter and you'll see results related to the keyword you entered. Click the link that will direct you to the airline's subscription page.
PS. The result varies depending on the airline you are searching, but in this case, you will find similar to what shown below.
You will be directed to the subscription page. The next thing you have to do is to fill in every box, tick on every box, agree to the Terms & Conditions, and then hit the subscribe button.
3. Choose Your Credit Card Wisely
If you're a frequent traveler, then you surely know by now how beneficial it is to have a credit card. However, if don't know yet by now, some credit cards are more beneficial for travelers than the others. If you want to know the best credit card for travelers, here are some things you have to consider:
What Type of Travel?
Many people are not aware of this, even some travelers who use credit cards for its travel perks. Choosing the best credit card for you depends on what type of traveler you are.You will be able to choose between two types of credit card, and that's determined by how you travel–by land or by air. Both cards are able to come with the same options. They will likely give you discounts, rebates, or free hotel accommodations, car rentals, cash back on restaurants, together with other purchases.
Air Miles Cards
When choosing an air miles credit card, you will also have two different choices. Would you rather choose to have a bank card or an airline card? A credit card offer by an airline company is normally made specifically for that specific airline. This means you acquire the best discounts and air miles if you choose to travel with that airline. This would be greatly beneficial if that airline if you're a frequent traveler on that specific airline.
However, if you travel often but use different airlines, then getting the air miles bank card, which offers you nearly the same points on any airline along with a wider range of benefits to select from will be a better choice. The points you'll get from this can also be used for cruises.
Credit Cards for Drivers
These credit cards come with many benefits as well. Most of the cards will give points for each time you get your gasoline filled and get car repairs and maintenance. Many of these credit cards specific for drivers have a range of different benefits that you'll need to consider before getting one. For example, some of these credit cards let you save your points and use them for buying a car or car parts. On the other hands, there are credit cards that provide you with cash back for the points you get, and some let you use them for repairing the cars.
Choosing the Best One
It's best to choose the best credit card in a chastely practical manner, the way you'd pick a card that has the lowest interest rate. Unluckily, every travel rewards card gives a unique combination of benefits and disadvantages and hardly is one card perfectly appropriate for the travel aspirations of everyone. When choosing a credit card, I'd suggest for you to check these criteria:
- Value: How much return you get for every cent you spend?
- Flexibility: How easy it is to redeem the points or perks you gained? —Blackout dates, a variety of partners, etc.
- Costs and Fees: Is it worth it to pay the fees for the benefits the credit cards offer?
4. Use Third Party Websites or Flight Search Engines
If you are a frequent flyer, you are definitely aware that they are one of the best ways to find the best airfare deals.
So, what's a flight search engine exactly? As you might have already guessed, a flight search engine is a website that searches the cheapest flight from point A to B at eight fixed or flexible date. In other words, they are like an online travel agent, except, you can use them for free! (Or so we thought)
However, you can't still guarantee if they really offer the best deal possible. With the number of variables involved, it's not easy to make sure you are getting the cheapest. Most flight search engines specialize on specific routes. For example, a specific website can find you the best deals for domestic flights but when it comes to international, it is not that reliable.
Depending on which city you are going to depart, there is a specific site suitable for that. Furthermore, the place of destination also has an impact on which site is the best to use for your trip. Let me give you an example…If you are departing from a western country going to an Asian country or Australian region, it's best to use different flight search engines if you're traveling to Americas of Africa.
To make more things complicated, there also flight search engines that don't include many low-cost carriers like Easy Jet, Ryanair, Jetstar, Jetblue, or Cebu Pacific. This is not good because low-cost carriers normally offer the best deal.
So, what's the best website to use to find the best deal? You may ask.Well, to tell you the truth, there's no surefire way to know. However, I personally trust www.kayak.com and www.skyscanner.net.
For me, these two are the best place to find the best deal. What I love about them is that they allow search with flexible date, which means you can easily find the best day to flight within specific months.
But then again, no one can guarantee it. So, why don't you do my technique? I'll teach you how I do it. I do this to make sure I am getting the best deal.
Go to the flight search engine and search for your route
Find the cheapest deal
Go to the official website of the airline with the cheapest price for the route and search the same route and date
In the end, you're more likely get a lower deal.
Why is this? Well, I can't tell for sure, but I think it is because of some of the third party websites add additional fees and/or they didn't allow the user to modify the add-on they want to include in the itinerary.
5. Check if it's Cheaper to Pay in Other Currencies
Again, there's no way for me to explain how airlines put a price on their flights.All I know is that there are plane tickets which can cost cheaper depending on which base country you book them from. It's all about clouting foreign currencies and point-of-sale to your advantage.
For some unexplainable reason, whenever I try to book domestic flights using a different currency, the prices mysteriously blow up or go down. For example, when I booked my flight to Manila to Kuala Lumpur, I initially searched my AirAsia flight through www.airasia.com/ph/en/ (Philippine currency) and then I compared it to http://www.airasia.com/my/en (Malaysian currency), and for some weird reason, I got a cheaper result from the latter link. This phenomenon is probably due to a ticket's point-of-sale.
So, by simply changing the currency or website location on your browser, you can perform this trick. But don't think it only works on international flights! If for example, you live in another country and say… you're planning to travel to different locations in Thailand, instead of using dollar or euro as your base currency for domestic flights within Thailand, make sure to check if baht currency is better. Anyway, you won't lose anything if you do.
So, let's answer the questions you might have in your mind.
Where am I going save the most?
Well, it's not actually about the country, but more of the airline. For instance, AirAsia is almost constantly considerably cheaper if you choose to pay in Malaysian Ringgit. This also applies to many airlines based in different countries.
Is it essential for me to fly to those countries in order to save?
Nope! The key here is to pay using the national currency of anywhere that airline is based. Let me give you an example again, a round-trip ticket from Boston to Rome on Norwegian Air is $900+ if you pay in dollars, but if you choose to pay in kroner, you'll likely get $800+.
But then again, flying to the country of origin of the airline will lead to even bigger savings.
Can I do this for every country?
No, I cannot guarantee this trick. There are airlines that have a currency fixed to the dollar and euro which perhaps won't save you anything.
6. Search for Glitch or Mistake Fares
So, what are these and how do these happen?
Flight mistake fares or airline glitches incredibly reduce flight ticket because of a mistake. Different botch-ups can generate a mistake fare – here are some reasons for this…
- Human error
Laziness, exhaustion, or just an honest mistake can lead to numbers to be omitted or added in error when a staff set at a flight price, which can lead to a seriously reduced ticket.
- Currency conversion accidents
Due to some computer glitch, calculating a rate from a currency to another can lead to miscalculations. This happened to United Airlines before, a ticket that would normally cost $4000 that was accidentally listed for only $79 – supposedly because of an accident when trying to convert the Danish Kroner to the British Pound.
- Omitted fuel surcharges and fees
Fuel surcharges were first introduced in the 1970s during the oil crisis in order to put up with changing prices. Unluckily, airlines have decided to keep them ever since – supposedly partially to stop numerous flyer programs from letting people book 100% free tickets when they use miles. From time to time, however, these charges might be dropped mistakenly. Fuel surcharges create an astonishing fraction of an airline ticket, so if deducted, it associates to huge savings!
- Error Frequency
Statistically speaking, these glitches and human errors are fairly common. With the profusion of flights and old flight booking systems today, mistakes are likely to happen and they'll be undetected. It's far too time-consuming and expensive for airlines to persistently snipe out and fix each single price mistake.
- How to find them
Stalking the experts is the best possible way. The best resource you can find for worldwide flight pricing errors is Secret Flying. Every day, they collection going mistake fares and are quick with updating when tickets be snapped up or become obsolete. You are able to subscribe through email or follow them on Facebook or Twitter for the latest update.
Another good resource for mistaken fares is Airfarewatchdog. This website has a committed team of deal hunters, who regularly update their blog with the best fares.
7. Book Connecting Flights
If you can bear the inconvenience of taking a longer flight to your destination, checking connecting flight is one of the best ways to save money on flights.
Enduring long nonstop flights can save you a lot of money, particularly for international flights. This is what FareCompare revealed on their analysis of airfare and destination data. It shows the trend that connecting flights could be cheaper.
Again, these cheaper destinations are derived from averages; what you're going to pay depends on where you are going to depart and where you are going to arrive.
How to Find out Which Flight is Cheaper
Knowing how to get the best routes to get to your long distance destination is so easy: Go to an airfare comparison website or flight search engine site that shows you the prices for connecting and nonstop flights for your destination. When you see what you'll be able to save, then decide if the money you can save is worth it for the time you will sacrifice.
For me personally, the thing I like about connecting flights the most is that it gives me the opportunity to see more places. Whenever I get a connecting flight, I try as much as possible to have at least 20-hour layover so that I can have time to explore. But of course, there are still some things you have to remember when doing this. First, make sure you will be allowed to get inside the country you want to explore.
For example, I have a friend who flew from London to Bangkok and got a layover in New Delhi. He chose to have 26-hour layover hoping to explore New Delhi while waiting for his flight. The problem, however, he wasn't allowed to get out India without a travel visa, which should be applied online.
So, make sure to check on your visa requirements! Another thing to consider is the time of the layover. Some people failed to notice that the time of the layover they got is at nighttime. It means it's more likely for you to see nothing as most establishments are closed.
Then again, you have to remember that there are instances when time is money. When having a connecting flight, you might be required to pay for food and accommodation, so don't forget to consider that too.
8. Consider Alternate Airport
Although there might be an airport located on your doorstep, don't exclude the possibility that it might be cheaper to fly from a little further away from the airport. It might work out cheaper, even with the cost of the transport to get there.
If you are planning to fly to a major city, you could at least possibly choose between two airports. Some small to medium-sized cities are a lot likely to have another airport nearby and even though it is a few hours away, this alternative destination can be much cheaper but then again, you might compromise time and comfort.
Using the more distant airport is not always as hard as it might sound. If you are not running out of time, then you may want to consider the cheaper option. This is better if you are planning to drive on your own or someone is going to pick you up.
If you are taking the public transportation, there will only be a small difference.
9. Know the Right Time to Book
As a frequent flyer, I get a lot of questions from novice travelers what's the best time to book a flight to get the best deal.Well, to tell you honestly, there's no real sure answer to this question. However, as someone who books flights every so often, there is a pattern I try to follow, and I want to share it with you.
What is the Right Day to Book?
I read a lot of blogs and articles claiming that the cheapest days to book are the less-popular ones which are Tuesdays and Wednesday, while the days you must avoid should be Fridays and Sundays. However, there's no proof to this! Most airline websites show their airfare on the weekly format so you can easily choose which day has the best deal for you, and I noticed that this claim doesn't apply. (In case, you can prove me wrong, please let me know!)
What is the Right Time to Fly?
Aside from the specific day, a lot of travelers also believe that afternoon flights are the best time to fly.They say this because most airports are less busy at midnight and more people would rather fly during the morning. This is another claim that doesn't have a strong basis.
How Long Should I Take To Make A Booking?
So, what pattern I follow?
It is not easy to identify an exact rule of thumb as the industry is always changing depending on the demands, but I have two rules I normally follow:
- Rule #1: Don't buy too late. If you are going somewhere next week and you haven't booked a ticket yet, then I am sorry to say this but you're less likely to get a good deal. The sad truth is that you're not the only one who is in need of a ticket and airlines are aware of that. With short time flexibility, airlines are aware that they are able to boost the price and you'll run out of another choice but to buy the ticket. So, make sure not to wait for too long before booking a flight.
Yet, illogically, last minute flights are another story. There are instances when prices go down for last minute tickets! Some airlines don't like empty seats so they'd rather give them away for a cheaper price tag. This trick, however, is something I cannot confirm, and like I said only some airlines do this.
- Rule #2: Don't buy too early. A lot of people think that as long as you book early, you will get the cheapest this possible. Although this is true to some extent, it is not always how it works. Based on my own experience, the best time to book a flight is between three and twelve weeks before your intended date of flight.
Other things to consider:
- You may encounter peak seasons as the Christmas season approach when air tickets are in demand. This is the time when people go home to spend holidays with their friends or when people from cold countries have short migration to warmer places. So, if you are planning to fly around the season, make sure to know the best time to fly.
- Some of the best time to fly is when it is off-season on the destination you are planning to go. For example, the colder season is the cheapest time to book a flight to many European countries or if you want to go to Southeast Asia, then the cheapest time to go would be during the rainy season.
- Most airlines offer special prices during the off-season so the prices will be changed in order to top up all the seats in a plane either to compete with other airlines or to simply increase the profits.
- Don't forget to make a good itinerary and book flight tickets accordingly if you are going to visit different international destinations for a continuous time period.
10. Take advantage of student's discount
Many college students love the idea of traveling to take a break from this stressful stage of life. However, as the same time, many students find it hard to temporary leave and enjoy due to money issues.This is totally understandable, though. With the high amount of tuition fees and textbooks, why would you choose to pay for expensive plane tickets?
Luckily, many airline companies offer college students discount! How much is the discount you will get? Well, that depends on the airline if what deals they offer. In many cases, airlines offer student discounts that can go as much as 70% off.
Actually, there many travel companies that offer cut-rate airfares and trips intended for college students. In a lot of cases, these deals aren't that flexible in terms of selecting travel dates as the trip is part of a bigger deal prepared only for students. There could be restrictions on round-trips and for how long between departure and return flights as part of the special deal.
So, where is the best place to find these deals? No other than the internet, of course! And as you might have already expected, there are websites that specialize in finding student travel discounts, here are some of them:
- STA Travel
STA Travel offers flights for every age group, but they offer airfares that only offered specifically for full-time students and travelers age 26 and below. You can acquire an International Student Identity Card with the help of STA in order for you to get discounted on airfare easily. Not only that! They also offer deals for land transportations and accommodations all over the world.
- Student Universe
This website is another hub for finding special offers flights, accommodations, as well as tours for students, age 18 to 25 at degree-granting universities. You are able to access student deals automatically, but there are times when you will need to provide them with proof that you really are a student by providing them with a copy of your ID, class schedule, and other documents. If you are not as a student, however, it is still worth checking the site on a regular basis are they offer special deals for anyone at specific age group whether they are students of not.
- American Airlines Vacations
This website offers vacation deals for students who are interested in going to Hawaii, Cancun, and more! Their goal is to make a student's Spring Break a lot more memorable.You will be required to submit your student ID to be able to enter. (I hope I won't go to hell for this, but I tried to enter a random number and browsed trips and it worked like a gem!)
What I like about this website is they don't require any prove to be able to get a student travel discount! Although the page clearly says that these are aimed for students, anyone can easily get the deal as long as they age 16 to 25.
- Generation Fly
With the use of a valid school email address, one can get a student travel promo from Lufthansa. You can expect for the fares to be affordable and flexible.
11. Watch Out For The Add-Ons
What many novice travelers are not aware of are the unnecessary but avoidable fees that they pay when booking a flight. If you are one of those people, you will be happy to read this.
Baggage fees are paid per bag, per direction. So, one way equals to one additional fee and round trip is equals to two additional fees. Round trip = two charges. If you have a connecting flight with one airline that you booked in a single booking, you don't have to worry about paying double, but still, it is something you have to pay for.
So, how can you avoid these fees? Well, this doesn't apply for everyone as some people bring heavy baggage with them, but if you are a light traveler, and your baggage is not heavier than the designated weight limit of the airlines you are booking from, then perhaps you'd like to choose to hand carry your baggage. You must also remember that the maximum baggage dimension allowed by most airlines is 55cm x 40cm x 24cm.
However, if you don't have a choice, make sure to choose the right weight when booking your flight.
Another mistake some people make is buying baggage allowance at the airport when checking in. most of the time, the baggage fees at the airport are significantly more expensive than pre-booking them online or via phone.
It is also worth noting that most airlines do not charge baggage fees for their top frequent customers, US military members and veterans, first class, and business ticket holders, and sometimes, credit card holders or some specific companies.
You can choose a specific seat when booking your flight, make sure to omit this! Yes, this is possible! A seat normally costs between $3 and $15 depending on which airlines and class you choose to book, but if possible, it's better to rule them out.
If you really want to choose your own seat but want to avoid extra fees, then get to the airport early and select from all available seat for free when checking in.
On Flight Meals
Insurance (Not really recommended)
Most airline meals are expensive and not that good, so, if you are a frugal traveler, I'd suggest for you to not book a meal and simply eat before your flight. If you have a long distance flight, then make sure to pack a little snack with you in your hand carry. Although not particularly cheap, food from the airport is still cheaper compared to what you'll pay for an onboard meal.
Well, I wouldn't strongly recommend this, but unless you have a separate travel insurance plan from another company or your flight is only within a short distance, then you may want to consider removing the insurance from a specific flight. Most airlines offer insurance that will cover lost baggage and any accidents that may take place during your flight. Again, this can be risky, but many hardcore travelers do this to save money.
12. Don't Overlook Small Carriers
I mentioned earlier that travel search engine websites are one of the best places to buy cheap plane tickets. However, many of them tend to push smaller carriers to the bottom, or worse, don't index them and include them in the list of results.
The main advantage of booking on low-cost airlines is that they allow budget-minded people experience the convenience of traveling by air. What more, many of them offer huge discounts from time to time.Services offered by most low-cost airlines don't involve luxurious frills, like complimentary food and drinks, entertainment, and freebies. Instead, passengers can buy their food and drinks on board. Fortunately, they offer a selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals for everyone to choose from.
Many of low-cost carriers also offer memberships,so that frequent passengers can earn points to get free flights just like the miles offer by premium airlines.
So, make sure to make a thorough research first before booking a flight to a certain destination. Make sure to search for the list of airlines that flies there and check the price offered of each of them.
13. Always Check Website's Promo Page
You can find good deals at one of those third-party travel websites, but when you have chosen your flight, do not ignore the possibilities awaits on the airline's official page.
Most of the time, I choose to book my flights directly on the airline's official website, as additional deals and exclusive discounts are sometimes available. Most airlines promise the best deals on their own website, fairly for the reason that they do not need to pay extra transaction fees. Travel search engines are a great tool to filter the options you have and finding the best times at specific dates, but checking out the official website of the airlines is always the best way.
Just like when shopping for a deal of any sort, there is always an amount of luck involved. Sometimes, it all depends on whether or not you're looking at the right place, searching for the right terms, or choosing the best times to do the hunting. However, if you follow the guidelines I listed above, you can easily attract the odds on you.
Are you also a frequent flyer? Do you know any other tips and tricks that we can use to maximize our savings when booking a flight? Share them with us in the comments below!