1. Book 6 weeks in advance to save 6% on fares.
It’s a simple fact that’s even stated on multiple commercial airline help pages: airline rates go up in price the closer it gets to your departure date. The Airline Reporting Corporation reported that passengers who booked 6 weeks out paid the lowest prices.
2. Choose an exit-row or bulkhead seat for more room.
Just in case a plane needs to be evacuated, the exit row was created to have more room than regular economy-seat rows. Just make sure you can handle the responsibilities should an emergency occur. Bulkhead seats are seats that are near walls, curtains, or screens on a plane and tend to be roomier than regular seats.
3. Depending on why you’re traveling, you could get a special, unadvertised fare by calling the airline directly.
There are discounts and special fares that are not listed on an airline’s site. Call the airline directly to check for discounted pricing if you’re a senior, are traveling on government/military business, are traveling due to a family death, or are traveling internationally for an adoption.
4. Don’t rely on booking sites alone for the lowest prices.
Some airlines, like Southwest, don’t allow many booking sites to aggregate their pricing, so when you use them, you’re not necessarily seeing the whole picture, and you could miss out on a great bargain. Check these domestic budget airlines sites directly for better savings:
- Allegiant Air
- Frontier Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
- Virgin America
5. Avoid flying on Friday and Sunday.
The busiest and most expensive days to fly are Friday and Sunday. If you can be flexible in your travel departure days, choose to fly out on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday.
6. Find the cheapest day to fly with one easy tool.
If your travel dates are flexible, check your favorite airline to see if they offer a low fare calendar that shows you the rates for the ENTIRE month so you know which day is the cheapest to book.
7. Mix and match your airlines for bargain trips.
It takes a bit of time and research, but if you’re super savvy, instead of using one airline exclusively, check different airlines to piece together your trip with one-way ticketing between stops. An additional bonus: this also allows you to control your layover times. Spend a day in the city if you like before taking off again to your next destination!
8. Don’t waste your frequent flyer points on quick, cheap domestic flights.
Avital Andrews from SmarterTravel.com spoke to industry experts who agreed that you shouldn’t waste your points on quick, cheap domestic flights when you can trade them in on more expensive flights, like international. Or, as Ryan Lile of Frequent Flyer Academy recommends, you can use them to upgrade your seating to business or first-class tickets, saving you wads of money in the process.
9. Have a large carry-on bag? Book a seat in the rear of the plane.
Since most airlines seat passengers from back to front, getting a seat in the rear will ensure more overhead compartment space for you to choose from.
10. Go beyond traditional booking sites with Google Flights’ many features.
Imagine a booking site that positively does it all! Yes, it can show you a great range of fares, but it can do so much more. Google Flights has the ability to show seasonal price fluctuations so you can plan around the busiest days. It can even show you additional ways to save, lets you dictate how much you want to spend, and its “I’m Feeling Lucky” feature can give you suggestions when you want to travel but don’t know where to go.
Tip: Make sure to save your itinerary on Google Flights. You’ll receive an email if prices drop.
11. Let a professional find the deals you might miss.
Naturally, travel agents have the best scoop on anything to do with travel. Tap into their wealth of insider information and see if they don’t have access to cheaper rates. In situations where you have to travel quickly and on a budget, a professional might be your best option to help you save some cash. A US News article quoted an industry insider that reports she has seen clients save “anywhere from $500 upwards of $1,000 on a ticket.”
Tip: Yelp is a great place to start when searching for the right local agent to fit your needs.
12. Follow your favorite airline on social media and sign up for emails and alerts.
Whether you’re looking for a last-minute, romantic getaway for two, or an affordable family vacation travel option, sign up for emails and alerts. You’ll get first dibs on deals, sales, and last-minute offers from your favorite airline.