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The ultimate guide on how to find cheap flights – or to simply save on your next travel!
Airline ticket prices vary greatly depending on the day of the week, time of year, and upcoming holidays, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July. August is a big month for traveling around Europe, and everyone wants to go somewhere warm in the winter or travel when the kids are out of school. In a nutshell, if you are going to fly when everyone is flying, then you’re ticket is going to cost more.
Try to be flexible with your dates. If you are dead-set on visiting Paris, go to Paris in the spring or fall when fewer people visit and airfares are cheaper. But if you want to go in the middle of August? You’re out of luck. Hawaii over Christmas? Good luck! Prices will be at their highest. The solution is to fly off-season. Search alternative dates so that you can capitalize on the best day. The more rigid your plans, the less likely it will be that you find a deal. Moreover, it’s almost always cheaper to fly during the middle of the week than on a weekend because most people travel on the weekends and airlines hike their prices then. Prices are also cheaper if you fly after a major holiday as are early-morning or late-night flights are cheaper because fewer people want to travel then (who wants to wake up early?!). Fridays and Mondays are also expensive because that’s when most business travelers fly.
Airlines are not dumb. They know when a festival, holiday, major sports event, or school break is coming up — and they raise prices accordingly. Be flexible with your dates and times and you’ll save yourself some major money.
Be Flexible with Your Destinations
If you can’t be flexible with when you fly, at least be flexible with where you fly. It’s best to be both, but if you really want to save the most money and get a cheap flight for your trip, you at least need to be flexible with one or the other. Even picking a different airport in your targeted destination could save you some money! For example: If you like to fly to Paris, you mostly will find flights to “Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport” (CDG), the main airport in Paris. But if you fly to “Paris Beauvais Airport” (BVA) instead, you may find cheaper flights.
Use connection flights
Yes, that’s maybe not the catchiest tip – but it can bring you a significant price reduction on your next travel. Not only does it help to be flexible with dates and destinations but being flexible with the route you take is another way to get a cheap flight. For example, sometimes it’s cheaper to fly to London and take a budget airline to Amsterdam than to fly direct to Amsterdam from your departure city. I did precisely this when I was going to Paris. The flight from the US was $900 USD, but I could fly to Dublin for $600 and get a $60 flight to Paris. It meant more flying time, but the $240 USD I saved was worth it to me. To use this method, find out how much it is to go directly to your destination. Then, open Google Flights and type in that destination’s continent to look at prices to nearby airports. If the difference is more than $150 USD, I look to see how much it is to get from the second airport to my primary destination (either by budget flight or train, if it’s not too far). You can also do this for leaving too. It might be cheaper to fly out from a nearby airport. I often search other airports to see if it’s cheaper to fly/drive/train there and then fly to my final destination. For long international flights, it can be worth the added time! If you do book separate segments, be sure to have at least three hours between connections. This will give you space in case there is a delay as your second flight won’t wait for you (you booked with a separate airline, so they won’t care if you’re late or not). Leaving a three-hour buffer will also cover you for an insurance claim since most insurance companies require you to have at least a 3-hour delay before you can make a claim. This method is more work since you have to figure out lots of different routes and check different airlines. But it can lower the price of your flight, which is worth the extra effort if you end up saving a few hundred bucks.
Stuck in Economy class? Effective tips for getting a free airline upgrade!
It’s a tale as old as time: you arrive at the departures gate, hoping to secure that all-empowering first-class seat, only to learn that your miles are no good here. Or you’re preparing to cash in some credit card points when the telephone agent tells you that you’re waist-deep in a blackout period. But what if we told you there are tried-and-true ways to get the airline upgrade you’ve always dreamed of without all the hassle—at least in instances when strictly automated, electronic upgrades aren’t the rule? Read on for eight tips to increase your chances for a free airline upgrade.
Get the timing right
You know what they say about the early bird—it applies here, too. Gate agents are more likely to reward someone who arrives before the masses, when things are quiet, rather than when they’re trying to get everyone boarded and off the runway on time. That said, on very rare occasions it’s sometimes the straggler who gets the worm, but we wouldn’t advise you to take up that strategy.
Choose your flight wisely
Though it seems counterintuitive, a full flight ensures your greatest chances for upgrade success. That’s because airlines rarely award first-class status on an empty vessel—what’s the point? If your flight is full, odds are good that it may also be oversold, and oversold trips sometimes force flight attendants into upgrades to accommodate everyone.
Speak up, especially if you have a story worth telling
It never hurts to ask nicely. If you were bumped from a flight, held on the tarmac during an hours-long delay, or inconvenienced in any way, now’s the time to air your grievances—directly but as politely as possible. Just don’t spin a yarn about an incident that never happened. Gate agents are like human lie detectors. Likewise, don’t be shy if you’re celebrating a special occasion, like a honeymoon or anniversary.
When it comes to upgrades, it’s better to be a lone wolf than to roll with an entourage. Smaller parties (read no more than two people, and more often just one) usually find more success than large families or people with special carry-on requests (we’re looking at you, support-animal faker).
Work the system
Anyone with elite status will tell you that it pays to be a loyal customer who travels frequently with one airline but owning a mileage rewards credit card can also help boost your standing in the upgrade pool. Consider enrolling in one affiliated with a specific airline rather than something more generic to not only jump the line but also gain access to perks like free checked bags and priority boarding.