No other pricing structure on this earth is as confusing as those of the airlines. For instance, when you buy a ticket for a bus or train journey, you are most likely to pay the same charges for travelling on any day. Some last minute deals in this case might cost a bit extra. However, with regard to airfares, you will find the charges fluctuating almost daily and that too without any notice.
Several factors affect the cost of airline tickets such as the time and place of booking and the time and place of travel. In addition, there are several other add on and hidden charges for some services like changing reservations and checking luggage.
Naturally, the way airfares are arrived at is indeed complicated. However, it is not altogether impossible to figure out what go into cause the fluctuations. Therefore deciding on the basis of a few considerations can help immensely save on the flying costs.
What beginners need to know
If you wonder why flight rates are skyrocketing and if you are unfamiliar with the options that you can make use of, then you can begin with these simple steps.
- Consider non-stop and multi-stop flights
One of the best advantages of flight journeys is the speed of travel. If you are very particular about reaching your destination quickly, then you are advised to consider a non-stop flight.
If you are tempted to consider a multi-stop option that is cheaper by a few dollars, then you need to also weigh other factors like how valuable your time is. There are also other risks connected to a stop. Also think of the time you are likely to waste on lading, waiting and taking off. While you are waiting for the flight to take off, you might end up spending those few dollars. Worse could also happen when you miss your connection during a stopover.
If you cannot exercise a check on your wallet and if you have no time to miss out, it would be in fact a saving to consider the non-stop option. A non-stop option can also give you more time in the destination and less time on travel. Therefore, consider whether the premium price you pay for a non-stop journey is worth it and decide accordingly.
- Research All Carriers
Most people try to book tickets through mass airline search engines like Expedia, Travelocity, CheapOair, or Kayak. They cannot be under the impression that they have considered all the available options. The reason is that carriers like Southwest do not allow these services to show up their fares. The tickets of such flights are directly sold on their dedicated portals. The best idea is therefore to visit the Wikipedia page for each airport and get to know the list of airlines that serve the airport. In the process, you will also come across the non-stop services too.
After gathering the necessary information, you can do the following. Visit travel sites like Expedia to find out the lowest fares. If the airlines you came across on the Wikipedia do not figure in the results, then you may check the official sites of those carriers. Thus, you can compare all of the options and then book with the cheapest airfare. In case of going for a multi-stop trip, you may land on the best rate by combining airlines. If you are not going to checking luggage, then you are most likely to find more options.
- Being flexible can help
If you are prepared to be flexible with the travel dates, you can hope to land on some best deals. Since in most cases travelling on Fridays, Sundays and Mondays carry the highest rates, you might consider travelling on a the other days of the week which might give you a huge benefit on the charges.
Most airlines offer the best discounts for journeys on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. A Friday flight might come with a rush to the airport on a working day, a hectic airport journey, and a tiring late arrival. Therefore, a trip on early Saturday morning shall prove better for you. Besides a relaxing trip, you can also have the extra saving in your pocket.
For the convenience of the travelers, majority of airline sites and travel search engines offer the possibility to search inputting a range of dates so that you can compare to discover the best prices. Using a matrix interface can help find varying fares on the basis of different travel dates. Though it is almost impossible to find great fares on most holidays, you can in fact land on huge bargains if you plan to travel on some holidays like New Year Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas.
- Choosing alternate airports
Several major cities have more than one airport. Often, choosing to travel to the alternative airport that is one or two hours away can be much less expensive while not being less convenient. Some airports charge additional fees and taxes that might add on the ticket prices.
Though you might feel it tougher, choosing the farther airport might prove a good option sometimes. If you are using your own car for transit, you just have to be more willing to cover that extra mile. Often, your friend or relative picking you up from the airport might be closer to that airport and this option shall in fact prove convenient to them. Therefore do the ground work that might benefit you.
If you are using a rental or public transit system to journey to the alternative airport, the travel charges can be much lesser to the additional charges you might incur while booking from the first airport. Therefore, being prepared to travel a bit more to the alternative airport can help make a huge saving.
- Consider one-way flights
Till sometime back, most round trips were priced lower than the price of two one-way flights. However, these days, most airlines sell a one-way ticket for half the cost of a round trip booking. Moreover, booking one way flight can give you more options with regard to airlines and flights which can work for your advantage. To land on the best rates, consider booking for each leg separately and if needed, you can think of arriving and departing from different airports to save.
- Look at extra fees
If you are booking for flights newly, it is most likely that you are often caught up with the different options suggestions and the differential costs. Most people therefore do not take in to account other extra airline fees like checked luggage charges.
Even before you plan for booking, make sure how much luggage you will require. When you come across the best price, also remember to check the policies of the airline to know how much extra you will have to bear for checking in the luggage. You will discover that a slightly higher airfare can let you find an overall lower cost.
While some airlines charge extra for two checked in bags, some airlines do not. While some carriers will charge extra for a bicycle for instance, some carriers fly them for free. Also some airlines charge lower baggage check in fee if paid in advance and you can make use of this option.
Expert Advice for frequent flyers
- Benefit from coupons and discount codes
Similar to online purchases, some airlines might offer discounts on tickets. You might therefore come across the old fashioned coupons in a book form or might discover discount codes online. Some travel forums offer you best deals. You may also sign up for the newsletters sent out by the airlines that you fly with frequently which would often carry some updates on latest promos and offers.
- Use credit card for booking
Some credit cards offer savings program on booking air tickets. Some credit cards provide a particular percentage of cash back on airline ticket bookings.
- Get a refund if you find a lower fare
If you have booked your ticket and then find a lower fare in some other kind of booking, you can as well seek cancellation of your earlier ticket and take the refund. The existing regulations require that tickets be refunded in full if cancelled within 24 hours of booking. Even if the same airline announces a lower fare offer after you book, you may book for a new ticket under the offer and seek a refund for the older booking.
- Benefit from consolidators
Often airline consolidators can help land on the lowest fares. These are companies that purchase air tickets in bulk directly from the airlines and sell them at discounted prices to passengers. As they get huge discounts over the ticket prices, they usually make a good profit even if they have to sell the tickets to lower prices than those the passengers usually pay for direct bookings.
However, since there are also some downsides to using the services of consolidators, you need to exercise this option carefully. For instance, tickets purchased through consolidators are not flexible. If you need to make some changes to your ticket, you will incur a heavy fee. The travel sections of newspapers provide information on consolidators and to know about them, you may also check with your travel agent.
- Take advantage of last minute deals
Several airlines give out lower ticket fares on Wednesday bookings for journeys over the following weekend. Such deals are often posted on their websites and often they are also made available on email subscriptions.
If you can be flexible with your travel plans, you can explore whether such deals can come to your advantage. Some carriers also provide some last minute rates for round trips planned on Saturday through Monday.
- Explore child and senior fares
Some airlines offer special rates for seniors and children. Sometimes, such special rates are available only for last minute travels. Such bookings must be made directly through the dedicated site of the given airlines to be eligible for the discounts.
Cost saving tips for experienced travelers
Even experienced travelers can benefit from a few cost saving tips as noted below.
- Purchase frequent flyer miles
Sometimes, airlines announce offers like 100 percent bonus on the miles bought. It means that you can journey double the number of miles for the miles you purchase. Over a period if you collect extra miles, you can even get free flights for your desired destinations.
- Make use of Back-to-Back Ticketing
A back to back ticketing plan means booking for the departure of the first trip and the return of the last trip as one round trip which can give you the advantage of the lowest rate. To fill out the other missing gaps, you might book other tickets as weekend round trips departing from your destination. The strategy here is to make use of two different airlines.
- Lodge a polite complaint
Spare some time to describe a recent problem you came across and send an email with a polite note to the airline’s customer service center. If you know the art of handling a complaint in a polite and professional way, often you might land on an impressive credit which you might use for a future trip.
- Check for red eye flight
Generally overnight flights are always cheaper. At times when you can allow a disruption in your journey, you might as well be able to save the lodging costs of an extra night. If you can consider this, then you can save a sizeable amount.
So, do some ground work
After reading through all the advices given by experts and frequent fliers, you will realize that last minute flights are cheaper than the regularly-booked ones. We bring you the best deals on last-minute flights and you can avail affordable prices for various travel itineraries. Get in touch with us if you want to ask more about our services and would like to explore the opportunity of booking last-minute flights and get a handsome discount.