For years the airline industry has suffered with high fuel costs, labour, and more recently, mergers. For passengers, this has led to years of fare increases and poor service, and sadly it’s only expected to worsen. Recent studies conducted by the GTA Foundation found that the price of flights is estimated to rise by an average of 2.6% this year, and to top it off, hotel prices are also expected to increase by 3.7%, meaning that the cost of travel is ever increasing for Americans.
However, though flights continue to become increasingly more inconvenient and expensive, the good news is that if you prepare correctly, there are plenty of ways that you can find to save money than you might realise. Being savvy when it comes to booking flights can help you offset the cost of the airfare and help you save money on your trip.
#1. Speak Directly with the Airline
Today, it’s easier than ever to book a flight online using a wealth of comparison sites that can help you find the best deals across a range of different airlines and dates. But, sometimes going direct can help you save money. Many airlines don’t allow their airfares to be posted to third-party sites, so it’s always worth checking the ones that aren’t listed to see if they could offer you a better deal. You can usually go directly to the airline’s website to do this. And, buying direct often reduces the hassle that comes with dealing with a third party when it comes to flight changes and cancellations.
If you’re traveling to the US or within Canada, make sure that you go direct with someone like Porter Airlines to take advantage of the best deals. They fly to popular destinations like New York, Boston and Toronto, with extra leg room as standard!
#2. Get a Package Deal
Getting a package deal and booking your airfare and accommodation at the same time can often lead to some significant savings. In fact, a study conducted by Travelocity found that doing this could result in savings of up to $525, which can make a serious difference to the amount of spending money that you have to take away with you. And, there are many sites that allow you to choose any combination of flight and hotel that works for you, rather than a pre-packaged deal. As a result, you can make even more savings by being savvy about the choices that you make.
#3. Fly Out of a Smaller Airport
If you can get to a smaller airport, this is usually a far cheaper option compared to flying in or out of the larger, main hubs. Lower cost carriers will typically fly out of smaller airports as it leads to cheaper operating costs, so if it’s worth the extra that you’d pay to get there, then you could find yourself saving a decent amount of money. For example, if you are flying from Florida, then it’s worth looking into prices from Ft. Lauderdale rather than the busier airport in Miami, as you’ll usually find more low-cost airlines operating from here. Plus, flying out of a smaller airport often leads to a more relaxing trip as they are not as hectic and busy.
#4. Fly at Unusual Hours
You may find that there’s a massive price difference for flights at different times of the day, and that’s because the flights during odd hours of the day tend to be the most cost effective. If you can, get an overnight flight, as these tend to be the least in demand, and therefore you can usually make some big savings as a result, when compared to flying out in the morning or at another popular time of day. The first, earliest flights of the day also tend to be cheaper – and you’ll be able to get to your destination early and spend more time there, too. You just have to be prepared to wake up and get to the airport in the early hours.
#5. Choose Your Days Wisely
Airline prices are subject to constant fluctuation, so it’s worth being savvy about the days that you book your flights for. Being flexible is key here – if you can afford to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, for example, then chances are you’re going to save money compared to flying on a day that is in high demand like a Friday, Saturday or Monday. It’s generally usually cheaper to fly during the week compared to on the weekend; both airlines and hotels know that Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday are the easiest times to travel so will hike their prices.
#6. Look for Coupon Codes
Couponing isn’t just for saving money on your grocery shop – there will be several coupon codes and vouchers that you can take advantage of in order to save money on your next flight, too. When you see a space to enter a coupon code on an airline’s website when buying tickets, don’t skip it – it’s always worth doing a quick search to see if you can take advantage of any and make savings. Experts say that you should treat this process like shopping for clothing online; many airlines have sales and provide promotional codes on their site, or you can use third-party voucher and cashback sites to get discounts or have a portion of the money you spend deposited back to you.
#7. Book Well in Advance
Although this could be tough if you’re a business traveller who needs to get a last-minute flight for an unexpected meeting, wherever possible you should always aim to book your flights at least a few weeks in advance as this is when prices will typically be lower. It’s not unusual for prices to hike up as the day of the flight approaches and more seats fill, leading to tickets becoming more expensive in line with the demand.
#8. Look into Special Fares
For students, young people, the elderly, disabled people and those working for the armed forces or emergency services, it never hurts to ask the airline if there are any special concessionary fares that can be taken advantage of. Many airlines will offer discounts to certain groups, so it’s definitely worth looking into. You can find plenty of organisations that cater for student travel groups particularly; search online for student-only airfares.
#9. Save Money on Extras
Last but not least, don’t forget about the additional extras that all quickly add up when you are traveling by plane. Baggage, for example, can become very expensive if you are taking a lot with you, so it’s worth seeing if you can afford to take cabin luggage only or share a check in bag with a member of your group. If you are checking luggage in, make sure that you weight it first to avoid being hit with any unexpected charges. Parking is also an expense that can quickly drive the cost of your trip up, so it’s worth looking into alternative options like public transport or getting a ride. If you don’t have another option, then find nearby parking off the airport site if you can – this is usually far cheaper than an airport car park which could set you back upwards of $20 per day.
The cost of airline travel is undoubtedly on the rise, but the good news is that there are plenty of ways to get around it and save money on your trip.