Holidays are stressful enough without having to overpay for airfare. Follow these three rules to save money on airfare. These are the top three savings tips from frequent flyers and industry experts.
1. Rethink Your Travel Dates and or Times
The holidays themselves or their eves are usually the cheapest days to fly. At first, it may not be appealing but overpaying and facing delays due to a surge in travelers isn’t appealing either. Adjust your schedule to avoid the most traveled itineraries – Wednesday to Sunday for Thanksgiving, and for this year Thursday to Sunday for both Christmas and New Year’s to land cheaper airfares and fewer travelers.
2. Don’t Check Luggage, Ship Ahead via a Ground Carrier
All domestic airlines, except for one, now charge for checked baggage. Checking luggage round trip for a family of 4 can increase your airfare by $200 or more. Instead, ship the contents of your checked luggage ahead (allow 5-7 days depending on destination). Even if it is to a hotel call the hotel on how to best address your carton to hold for your arrival. Shipping via a ground delivery service can cost a lot less than checking bags. Bonus – no lost luggage or fighting long lines at baggage claim. See the various checked baggage fees airlines charge, here.
At first it may not be appealing but overpaying and facing delays due to a surge in travelers isn’t appealing either. Adjust your schedule to avoid the most traveled itineraries – Wednesday to Sunday for Thanksgiving, and for this year Thursday to Sunday for both Christmas and New Year’s to land cheaper airfares and fewer travelers.
3. Track Your Airfare BEFORE You Buy
If you’re planning a trip and have a few weeks or months before purchasing your flight you can save money by adding price alerts to track fluctuations in the price of your flight.
- GOOGLE FLIGHTS Google allows you to preview the lowest price on flights and suggests the best days to fly by showing you a map view
As the price changes, you will receive daily or weekly updates to your email.
Instructions on How to Track Airfares using Google Flights
2. KAYAK PRICE TRACKER With Kayak, you’re allowed to select multiple flights on one page and set up alerts.
3. AireFareWatchDog provides limited deeply discounted flight price alerts. Unlike Google Flights and Kayak, Airewarewatchdog emails you daily with unbelievably low priced fares to wherever you want to travel. However, we have found that most of these flights depart during the week so it’s perfect for anyone with flexible travel dates and is planning a trip well in advance.
Track Your Airfare, Even After You Buy
If your flight’s fare drops below what you paid for it check with your airline to see if they will compensate you somehow. Most airlines and online travel agencies will give you a rebate — usually in travel credits or vouchers — if your flight’s price drops below what you paid. Just be wary of fees: Some airlines charge “re-booking” fees between $50 and $175 for domestic flights and up to $250 for international flights. Alaska Airlines and Jet Blue do not charge to refund price drops; Southwest never charges a ticket-change fee and will credit you the full difference in fare.