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There are some great ways to save on plane tickets, if you do some research and planning you can have the trip of a lifetime cheaper than you could fill up your gas tank (especially lately).
Here are my favorite ways to save on plane tickets:
1. Compare Prices
A few years ago I did a post on How to Save on Flights: Kayak Explore & Google Flights. These are still awesome booking sites to compare prices of other airlines. Use a couple of different sites to compare if you want it to be the most comprehensive. Make sure all of the airlines are being included in the search on these booking sites.
2. Know When to Buy
Cheapair.com conducted a survey a couple of years ago to show the Best time to book the cheapest tickets. Admittedly, this window is always changing and it’s more of just a good guess. The solid number their study came up with was 47 days in advance is the best time to book your airline tickets. More broadly: one to four months out is the booking window you should be aiming for.
3. Have Flexible Travel Dates
The least desirable days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Usually people fly on Fridays and Sundays to make the most of their vacation days or to revolve around their work week. If you have a flexible schedule at all, try to fly out on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday – even if it’s only once instead of both ways. This will definitely save you some money.
Tip: If you have really flexible dates, use the calendar search tools on Google Flights to see the cheapest days a month at a time.
5. Check for Different Airports
You should always be in the habit of clicking the little box that says search surrounding airports. That’s a happy little box that will end up saving you a ton. Airlines might be running promotions on a new connection, or the more common one you’ll see…. the bigger the airport the cheaper the tickets. For me, I tend to always drive an hour and half up to Charlotte, NC and tickets are $200+ cheaper than flying from Columbia, SC.
6. Always Use a Airline Credit Card
As long as you are smart and pay off your card at the end of the month, having the credit card for the airline you are going to fly with will save a chunk! Almost every airline offers FREE checked bags when you pay with their credit card. You’ll also get fun perks like boarding early and discounts on any in-flight purchases (included wi-fi). I only use the card to buy the airline ticket and may go months between using it, but being able to check a bag saves you an easy $25+ on each leg of your trip!
Tip: Most credit cards also offer trip protection on airline tickets, so check with your card before ever paying for trip insurance.
7. Enjoy a LONG Layover
This is a two part tip…
First, many domestic flights are cheaper when they have a layover because the demand for non-stop flights is higher and they can charge more for them. While it delays your trip a tad, it could save a lot depending on the flight you pick.
Second, if you are traveling internationally you can have a layover up to 24 hours on the same ticket without paying extra. Maximize your layover and enjoy a quick visit to another city (or two if you pick a different route home). There are also some airlines that offer extended layovers (really called stopovers) free of charge if you are stopping in certain cities:
Finnair: Fly through Helsinki and get an unlimited length stopover.
Icelandair: Enjoy up to seven nights for free with a stopover in Reykjavík, Iceland.
KLM: Stopover in Amsterdam on your way out and returning, for free!
Japan Airlines: Offer free stopovers to various cities depending on your final destination.
Hawaiian Airlines: If you’re flying from any of the airline’s international destinations, you are eligible for a free layover on each leg of your trip in Honolulu with no limit on how long you can stay. For US flights you’ll only pay $60 more for an unlimited stopover.
See even more here.
8. Earn Airline Points Like a Pro
Airline points are really your ticket to cheaper travel. Like I mention in #6, you should have an airlines credit card, and when you sign up for one you should look for the best sign up bonus you can find! United offers 50,000 points on a regular basis and American will over 40,000-60,000. Both of those are enough for one international ticket to Europe!
You can also have a credit card that works with every airline like the Chase Sapphire card. This is by the travel point expert favorite as the bonus is usually super high and the points convert at a great ratio to any airline. Be careful of your credit and don’t sign up for a ton of cards at the same time. If you grabbed one card to your regular airline and then 6 months or so later got a generic card like Chase Sapphire, that would get you two international tickets for free in the same calendar year!
9. When Using Rewards – Always Book Open Jaw Tickets
If you don’t know what open-jaw tickets are, they’re simply roundtrip tickets where you depart from a different airport from the one you first initially landed at. So you fly from New York to London and then fly home from Paris to New York. With awards tickets airlines consider areas in zones, so as long as your two cities (the one you arrive into and the one you eventually depart from) are in the same zone, they will let you count this as one ticket and one regular reward ticket.
Tip: You can also book these as regular tickets too and it’s typically cheaper than booking two one way tickets. Tryout the Matrix ITA for the best options (this is the backend system that google runs for almost all of the airlines in the world).
10. Kids are Cheaper on International Airlines
Before you book your ticket straight through a large travel site, you may want to check directly through the airline for kids tickets. Orbitz and other large sites don’t always show the kids ticket price, but many overseas airlines offer cheaper tickets for kids 12 and under.