When we dream about a trip around the world – or plan one for a team of 30 employees – we see dollar signs. One of the biggest dollar signs among the various costs of travel is airfare – and this dollar sign comes with a question mark attached. How much your flight from A to B will cost is never set in stone until you lock in a price and book your trip. Airline pricing is in constant flux and the prices will vary depending on when you book, where you book, and how flexible you are. To make travel budgets even more confusing, airlines are constantly hiking and trimming prices to outwit competitors, offload seats on an unpopular flight, or simply by mistakenly publishing the wrong price. This post will help you learn to navigate these prices and make the best choice with less stress.
Consider a flexible itinerary
While it’s a myth that booking your trip on a Tuesday will yield lower prices, the day of week and time of day DO matter when it comes to your actual flight schedule. People fly on and over weekends. People fly before and after holidays. People travel to cooler climates in the warmer months and vice versa. If you want to do what the people do, you will pay to compete for seats. If you’re willing to fly midweek, take a late-night or pre-dawn flight, or hit the desert in August, you’ll save.
Buy the Off-Brand
Just as you save a few bucks when you buy off-brand peanut butter, you can save dozens by choosing a budget airline, too. You can find global flights that rival domestic prices if you’re not picky about the carrier. The biggest thing to remember with budget carriers is they have to make their money somehow – usually this comes out in unexpected fees like carry-on fees or fees for using a credit card. If you’re savvy, you can avoid the extra costs but even if you do tack on $25 extra, you could still be saving compared to a comparative major airline flight.
Check out this list of the top budget airlines from Nomadic Matt:
Take the Long Way
Direct, nonstop flights are more expensive. Why? Because convenience sells and people don’t want to waste their time on a layover or stress about a connecting flight if they don’t have to. If you’re willing to forgo that commodity and accept a layover or get creative, and book two separate flights that add up to less than the direct flight would, you’ll save some spending money for later.
Some search engines are just feeding you prices straight from the airline while others are actually providing you a special deal because they have a negotiation in place with airlines, in order to fill seats. Some search engines don’t include budget airlines at all while others do, but they charge their own fee for use. Make sure you know WHY that travel site is giving you such a tremendous deal and look closely for surprise surcharges. Also, make sure you cross-reference prices in at least 3-5 places. Consider Momondo, Sky Scanner, and a good, old-fashioned Google search. You may also want to keep an eye on sites that monitor spur-of-the-moment deals, such as Secret Flying and The Flight Deal – both global options.
Become a Member
Doesn’t it seem like every retailer has a loyalty program these days? That’s because, in the best of cases, they’re a mutually beneficial chance for the brand to earn your repeat business while providing you with savings. Many of the rewards programs you see in stores now mimic the Airline rewards programs and frequent flyer miles that travelers can rack up. You may have racked up a few points on domestic flights already, but it’s smart to know which airlines are affiliated as rewards partners. For example, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines are partners. If you are a United Airlines rewards member, you are also going to earn points when you fly Singapore Airlines. Many airlines also partner with rental car companies, hotel companies, and other brands to earn you more points. It’s important to note that paying for airfare or other travel expenses is not the only way to earn points. Certain credit cards, special offers with some apps, restaurants, or other purchases, and even online codes can earn you points, or double what you already have.
Travel is one of the most rewarding experiences in life, whether for work or for pleasure. The privilege to see and experience other parts of the world is one that comes at a cost. To make the most of your next global trip, plan your flights like a travel insider with these tips. Don’t forget to download WorkTrip to manage your travel and event planning particulars all in one place.