Let’s face it: booking a flight for a vacation can be pretty stressful. We scour the internet for the lowest prices only for everything to get more expensive a few days later. Is saving a few bucks worth it if you end up tearing out all your hair in the process? Thankfully, there are some tips and tricks you can use the next time you want to fly. That way, you can save the most amount of money while still keeping your sanity.
HIDE YOUR BROWSING INFO
Have you ever been shopping around and watched as the price of a ticket starts to creep up? That’s because the airline companies are one step ahead of you in the game. Whenever a user repeatedly checks on a particular flight, those sites are coded to slowly raise the price. The reason they do this is twofold: Because they are aware you keep going back to the same page, they know you really want that date. In addition, they are trying to scare you into buying the ticket before it jumps in price too much.
In order to fight this, you should always use incognito mode, private browsing, or any similar feature when booking a flight. If you are using google chrome, you can click on the three dots in the upper right corner and select “New Incognito Window”. This method works for other browsers as well, though it may be called something else. For example, you’ll find the same option in about the same place on Microsoft Edge, but it’s called “New InPrivate Window” instead.
The reason this works is because doing so resets your cookies. As a result, websites think visitors who use incognito mode are brand new and don’t use their price-hiking tricks.
THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM
It’s always pretty tempting to wait before buying anything just to see if the price goes down or if a sale suddenly appears. The truth of the matter is, this doesn’t really happen that often with airline tickets. In fact, the inverse is far more likely. As tickets get reserved for a flight, the supply of open seats dries up. Like with any other product with a dwindling supply, the remaining available tickets get more expensive. You will save the most money if you book as early as you can, especially if you already know the exact day you need to fly out.
DON’T STICK WITH A SINGLE AIRLINE
If you are using a website to do your booking, you’ll be able to save money by getting tickets with different airlines. When you are planning a trip, most places will only display connecting flights from a single company. That might be more convenient, but it isn’t necessarily the cheapest.
This is something you can test for yourself pretty easily. In our own research, we found that you could save one or two hundred dollars by mixing and matching airlines for longer trips. There is one main thing you need to watch out for though. While companies will happily reschedule connecting flights if one of their own was delayed, they don’t have to do so if the other flight was from a separate brand.
Look for websites that have their own money-back or refund guarantees in these situations. If you do plan on going the mix-and-match route, you want services that will let you pick up a different flight without having to buy another ticket. By doing so, you won’t get wrecked if the first leg of your trip is suddenly cancelled or is running late.
You probably have friends who have their own horror stories about budget airlines. The phrase “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here. However, as long as you know how to plan appropriately, you can avoid many of the pitfalls that others stumble into when booking with these smaller companies. Some who have had bad experiences simply weren’t aware of the cons that can come with cheaper flights. If you know what you have to compromise on and are fine with it, why not just pay less? Here are some of the things to watch out for.
1. Always read the fine print. You don’t want to be surprised by extra charges you weren’t aware of by accepting certain services. As an example, some may charge you an extra check-in fee if you don’t check-in online first before you arrive.
2. Some of these extra fees will be things that you don’t normally think of because bigger airlines won’t charge for them. This includes meals and luggage checks. Not getting a mid-flight snack isn’t as bad if you know to pack your own munchies.
3. Cheaper airlines often won’t be at the bigger, major airports. Instead, they’ll fly out of smaller locations that will be a bit more out of the way.
4. Any fines or fees will often be a lot higher than what you would expect with the top names. Because of this, you will want to be absolutely certain you are following every rule to the absolute tee. This includes things like the number of bags allowed or going over your bag weight limit.
5. This was already stated above, but ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT. It bears repeating because most everything covered in this list will be detailed somewhere on their website. Paying attention and reading everything is the compromise you make by saving cash. Once you are on vacation with extra spending money for souvenirs or drinks, it’ll be worth it.
There are several resources online that will grab you a list of all of the lower-cost airlines. This includes Wikipedia, which has a page listing them by the countries serviced.
Something you may want to look into are airline reward cards or frequent flyer programs. Certain low-cost airlines have their own credit cards, like Southwest Airlines. Even if your choice doesn’t have that option, there are always travel rewards credit cards that cover flights booked with any airline. If you are someone that flies fairly often, these rewards can really add up and make it worth your while.
It might seem like a lot of work, but nobody ever said saving money was super easy. As long as you know what you are getting into though, it won’t be a difficult experience either. Traveling doesn’t have to be out of reach because of high ticket prices. Just remember to do your own research online, and you’ll be on the way to cheaper flights.