It’s no secret that airline tickets can be costly. However, you don’t have to let expensive flights hinder your travels. The key is knowing how to maximize your savings when booking your flights. And the good news is that there are plenty of ways to go about saving regardless of your destination.
1. Use Incognito Mode When Researching Rates
Did you know that when you search for airline fares from your computer, sites can track your searches and raise the rates each time you revisit your search? This is a common tactic used by airlines and travel sites to encourage you to book—but there’s an easy way to get around it. Use the “incognito mode” on your computer’s browser, which will prevent sites from tracking your search history and therefore keep travel sites from increasing rates in this manner.
Directions to go incognito can vary depending on the browser you use, but every Internet browser offers this option; you should not have to download any plug-ins or add-ons to use it. Keep in mind that this strategy can also be used to save money on hotels, rental cars, and other services related to your travel!
2. Be Flexible With Your Departure And Return Dates
Having a little flexibility with your travel dates is perhaps the best way to save money on your next flight. In general, Fridays tend to be the most expensive day of the week to fly, just as Sundays and Mondays are usually the most costly for return flights.
Most airlines and travel sites offer an option to view a fare calendar when booking. This will allow you to see the fares for your flight based on the day of the week and calendar date. You might be surprised to see how much cheaper it is to fly on a Thursday versus a Friday, for example.
Always be sure to take a look at these different fares; it may very well be worth it to have some flexibility with your dates of travel. Just be sure to factor in any other costs you might incur, such as expenses related to missing an extra day of work or having to stay another night in a hotel. Crunch the numbers to be sure that it’s worth it before booking.
3. Mix And Match Your Flights
While it may seem obvious that booking all your flights through the same airline would be the most cost-effective option, this is not always the case. In fact, you might be surprised at how much you could save by mixing and matching your flights. This could mean flying to your destination with one airline and buying your return ticket through another airline; it could also mean taking one leg of your trip with one airline and catching your connecting flight with another.
Yes, this approach will require a little more research on your part. However, you can save a lot of money by mixing and matching those flights to find the best deal. Just keep in mind that if you choose to take flights with layovers, you may need to budget some extra time to get to another terminal within the airport (depending on the specific airlines with which you’re flying). You’ll also lose out on the convenience of having your checked luggage transferred automatically if you are not traveling with your carry-on luggage, but the savings could very well be worth it!
4. Cancel And Rebook If Prices Drop Last-Minute
Most airlines these days allow you to cancel your flight with no questions asked for a full refund up until about 24 hours before take-off. Many people don’t realize how this policy can be used to their advantage from a cost-savings standpoint.
Consider this scenario. You booked a round-trip flight two months ago, and the total price was $350. A few days before your flight, you noticed that the cost for the same ticket you have now has dropped $100 to just $250.
You can (and should!) call the airline to cancel and re-book your flight for the discounted rate. Most airlines will honor the ability to do this as a means of saving on your airfare, and you might be surprised at how much you can save using this strategy. Just be sure to keep an eye on fares in the days and weeks leading up to your trip. Depending on the airline you’re flying, you may even be able to cancel and re-book more than once if needed to maximize your savings.
The Bottom Line
There are so many ways to save on airline travel these days that you should never have to pay full price for a plane ticket. The key is being savvy and spending a little time researching the best deals. Sometimes, maximizing your savings will mean doing things like booking flights with separate airlines or even canceling and re-booking at the last minute. However, you will likely find that these seemingly unconventional tactics can save you hundreds of dollars (or more!) on your travels; that’s money you can save or spend on other exciting aspects of your trip!