Four Tips for Flying Cheap

flying-cheap

I have a love/hate relationship with booking airline tickets. I love traveling, but hate fluctuating prices and the stress of finding the best deal. There are some general rules that are helpful – don’t book on a Friday (business trip bookings raise prices), fly on a weekday, and purchase a ticket more than two weeks in advance. However, if you really want to find a steal, simply follow these four tips to flying cheap.

Search multiple airlines with the flexible date function.
There are tons of search engines that allow you to compare airline prices at once. My favorite is Google Flights – it has a calendar view that shows you the cheapest day to travel on all the major airlines (except Southwest, which doesn’t allow automatic search engines to monitor its fares so you'll need to go to their website to check).

Track airline prices.
Know when you want to travel? Skyscanner and Google Flights (again, my favorite here) lets you track prices for specific flights and alerts you when there’s a price drop or hike. If you don’t care about dates, Airfarewatchdog is your best bet – real people send in bargains they’ve found with an explanation on how to get it (so this site does include Southwest deals). It’ll tell you if there are blackout dates, a sale code, or if they used the flexible date calendar to get the price shown. You can subscribe to weekly emails alerting you of the best finds.

Want to save even more money? Keep tracking the flight even after you’ve purchased tickets you may be able to get refunded for the price difference if there’s a drop. Most airlines have low price guarantee policies; you’ll just have to fill out some info online to receive an airline credit or money back.

Purchase using an airline specific or travel-friendly credit card.
If you only fly a certain airline, you can rack up points easily and get bonus miles to use toward future flights if you spend a certain amount, refer friends, or even eat at specific restaurants. Many times airlines will pass out forms after a flight with additional bonus miles or a free companion fare if you sign up right there – so you’re still in luck if you’ve already booked a ticket.

If you’re simply looking for the best deal and don’t care about what airline you’re on, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is top rated for travel (the best IMO) and awards you bonus points equal to $625 toward travel If you spend a certain amount in the first few months. You also get more value out of those points by booking through the website.

Get the emails.
Each airline has frequent flier programs that you can sign up for, which, to be honest, don’t really do much or get you discounts unless you fly A LOT. You will, however, get daily,weekly, and monthly emails of their sales by joining. Frontier, one of the most budget-friendly airlines, just sent out a 90% off promo code - seriously. It’s free to sign up, so if you don’t mind a little extra mailbox spam, subscribing to the airlines you fly is definitely worth it.

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