With an abundance of low budget airlines to choose from you’d think it would be easy to find cheap flights. Sure the initial price may look attractive but once you add checked bags, seat allocations, meals etc., the dollar soon racks up.
With airlines in the United States making more than $4.2 billion on baggage fees alone in 2016, these ‘budget airlines’ sure are savvy. But don’t stress, we’ve got a few tried and tested tips up our sleeves to ensure you’re one step ahead of the game...
Hack 1: Knowing when to book
Ever been super organised and booked your flights up way in advance to find the prices have come down a few months later? Annoying right. Or left it till the ‘last minute deals’ only to find the prices rocketing sky high? Even more annoying. According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation, the best time to book short haul flights is about 6 weeks prior to travel when prices drop below the average fare. And for long haul flights, 18 weeks in advance is where the sweet spot’s at.
Hack 2: Use flight search tools
Instead of heading straight to your chosen airline, use flight search tools. Fill in your travel date and destinations and you’ll be greeted with a whole heap of airline fares. Sites such as Kayak, Fare Compare, FlightFox and Skyscanner, compare prices from pretty much every airline out there. If you can, be flexible with your dates and airports, you’ll be surprised by how much $ you can save just by travelling a day or so before/after, or from a different airport. Once you’ve found the flights you want, double check the prices on the native site to ensure they haven’t been bumped up along the way.
Hack 3: Leave on a Wednesday
According to Fare Compare, Wednesday is the cheapest day to travel, especially for domestic airlines. Reason being, it’s “The day when the most seats are likely to have better supply, and thus … more empty seats that require discounting to fill the plane—meaning they’ll have to release more seats at their cheapest price point.” On top of this, airports are generally a little quieter mid-week, so you’re likely to have a more enjoyable airport experience whilst saving on the cash. Double win!
Hack 4: Sign up to Newsletters
To ensure you don’t miss out on these sales, sign up to your favourite airlines newsletters. Fare sales generally target the next two or three months of travel and have 14 to 21 day advance purchase requirements. Airlines usually launch their sales on Tuesdays and end them on Thursdays. This is the period when airlines may have empty seats ahead of the weekend flights. If so, they will slash their prices and send out newsletters to their subscribers. Travelzoo Newsflash emails is also another handy site to subscribe to. These guys offer travel deals on flights as well as hotels and vacation packages.
Hack 5: Check Twitter and Facebook
If you’re in need of another excuse to spend your days procrastinating on social media, this is a gooden. Airlines such as JetBlue have been going to the likes of Facebook and Twitter to drop some seriously special sales and blast fares. So be sure to follow your fav airlines and keep a look out on their activity. Note that these sales go in a flash, so no time for deliberation if you see a sweet deal!