We all know a few tricks with regard to getting a deal on a flight(s). For example, most experienced flyers know that tickets are expensive around the holidays and that being willing to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday can save a noticeable amount of money. However, there are other tricks of the trade that are a little less cut and dried.
Below are 5 tips that can help anyone interested in pinching pennies make their flight less of a burden on the pocketbook:
1) Bags – Most of us think that if we´ve saved $70 by selecting one airline over another; or a certain day during the week in relation to another; or elected to not choose a preferred seat, that the money is cash in hand. However, that´s not always the case. Airlines have a wide variety of ways to get money out of your pocket. Charging for bags is a big one.
Before committing to the purchase of a ticket, make certain that you know how much you are going to pay for your luggage. Many airlines will only permit one personal item and a single carry-on. While you may think that one bag is sufficient for your trip, the size of the carry-on is often limited to a size that will not permit a person to travel for more than a few days.
More importantly, the price of checked bags can be upwards of $50. Determine how many bags you are going to need for a vacation, what it is going to cost you to check those bags, and include that in the price of the fare.
2) Food and Drinks – If you think food in the airport is expensive, buy a couple of sodas and sandwiches on the airplane. While it is sometimes not possible to go an entire flight without something to eat — particularly international flights, — understand that by going with an airline that does not have complimentary food and beverages, especially if you are traveling with your family, can mean spending all your savings on snacks.
3) Direct Flights – Many of us have tried catching one, two, even three different flights from different carriers in order to save $50. The problem is, every time you step off an airplane in order to board another, you have a layover. Layovers — with the exception of the most disciplined travelers — are expensive. Buying food and drinks; something to read to make the layover less painful; a souvenir for a loved one… all of these things quickly add up. After three different layovers, all the money you saved booking strategically could disappear, and then some.
Consider taking direct flights whenever possible, especially if the price of the flight is within $50 of what you would jumping from airline to airline.
4) Red Eyes – There are two things to remember about red-eye flights. One, they generally save you money because they are not as popular as flights during the day. Two, they are a great deal more time efficient.
By taking a red-eye flight, you do not lose a day of vacation traveling. Instead, you arrive early in the morning, which means you have all day to get to where you want to be once you land. It also means that if you are depending on someone to pick you up or drop you off, they aren´t taking a day off of work helping you out. They can either drop you off after work or pick you up before hand, whatever the case may be.
Never-the-less, it is worth repeating, red-eye flights are still the tried and true way of saving money.
5) Account for Parking – While the money does not go into the profits of the airline you fly with, for all practical purposes, parking is a part of the price of the ticket. Avoid spending money on parking at all costs. If you must, find out if there are any parking garages near the airport that have both lower daily parking fees as well as a shuttle running to and from the airport. Depending on the length of your stay, parking can quickly become more expensive than the price of your ticket.
This blog post is the opinion of Belmont Savings Bank and is not to be taken as financial or investment advice. For personal financial advice, please consult a financial advisor.