With the summer season comes traveling. Whether for business or pleasure, people take to the air to get to their destinations in the least amount of time.
While convenient, flying can be terribly expensive. Believe me, I know. Yesterday I had to reserve airline tickets to Chicago for BlogHer. Fortunately, I don’t have to pay for my tickets out of pocket, as I’m going on behalf of the Walmart Elevenmoms, so Walmart will be picking up the tab. But I still searched around for the least expensive tickets, as I hate to waste money, even if it’s not my own.
What hurts me is that I live in an area with a small airport. We only have three airlines that fly out of here on a regular basis. And I’m 5 hours from a major airport in either direction. So flights are expensive, and I can’t fly anywhere directly…or so it seems.
Even though I couldn’t get away from expensive tickets, I took a few steps to minimize the cost.
How I Found the Least Expensive Flight
First, I checked Expedia. I always run my travel plans through Expedia to get a general idea for pricing, whether it be airline tickets or hotels. Expedia doesn’t always have the best price, but it gives me a good price to shoot for.
Then, I checked directly with the airlines. Two of the airlines, Delta and Horizon, where around $100 less expensive than the third, United. That surprised me, because I almost always fly United, as it’s usually cheaper from my local airport.
The prices for the tickets on both Delta and Horizon were exactly the same as the Expedia price, so I opted to reserve my tickets directly with the airline. I figure if anything happens, like I miss a connection, it will be easier to work directly with the airline than with a third party, such as Expedia.
Finally, I checked the flight schedule. I found that both Delta and Horizon would get me to my destination around the same time. However, the Delta flight only gave me an hour layover in Seattle, which was cutting it a little close for my comfort. So I chose Horizon, because I wanted to minimize my risk of missing a flight.
Other Things to Consider
If your plans are flexible, try plugging different dates into the reservation form. Sometimes flying on a Tuesday may be less expensive than flying on a Saturday.
Try Priceline, if you’re really flexible. You may get a great rate, though you might end up on the red-eye. Before you use Priceline, be sure to check out Bidding for Travel. You’ll find all the information you need to make a successful bid.
Try different airports, if there are two in the same vicinity. I tried comparing flights to Chicago O’Hare and Midway. But flying from my small airport, I found Midway wasn’t even an option. So O’Hare it is.
Check with Discount Airlines. Allegiant Air just started flying out of my local airport. They don’t have flights every day, and they only fly to three cities, but their prices are low! I’ve heard they get as low as $29 each way, though it looks like the lowest price is $49 each way over the summer. The downside? With only one flight per day on the days they fly, if something goes wrong, you’ll be stuck at the airport.
Finally, before you fly, make sure you are aware of extra fees. Many airlines chare for checked baggage nowadays. And if you want a snack or meal on your flight, you’ll probably find yourself paying exorbitant amounts, too. On my last flight I saw someone buy a bag of chips for $3. It’s best to take your own food.
Wherever you travel this summer, I hope you have a great time! And if you’re headed to BlogHer, be sure to look me up!
Can you think of any tips that I missed?
Photo by Kossy@FINEDAYS.
Lots of good tips, thanks. Another thing I’ve found is that quite often the best fares are on, not just Tuesday as mentioned, but also Wednesday and Thursday. Avoid Monday and Friday if possible.
Another tip..if you purchase a ticket through Delta online you have 24 hours to cancel w/no penalty…100% cash back. The purchase HAS to be done online. The 24 hour period could be used to search for other flights in the meantime.
No need to apologize for seeking the best price on the tickets even if they were paid for by another. That’s like asking a zebra to change its stripes . . .
I would also check out farecast.com (which was recently purchased by MSN so the new URL is http://www.bing.com/travel/). They try to predict whether prices will increase or decrease and whether this is the time to buy.
My husband and I are both FF. Hubby flies over 150K miles per year, I fly over 50K miles.
Needless to say we are always booking a flight.
A few tips:
• kayak.com is your friend. They compare everything except southwest. You can find those most flight connections, at the cheapest prices, through kayak. We use them as a search engine then book directly with the airline.
• I have a Delta platinum rewards card. One of my perks is I can pay with miles instead of cash for any seat, any time.
• Another perk to a platinum AmEx card is free entry into most airport clubs. At northwest, they practically serve you a meal.
• If you are a FF, upgrades, baggage and other options can be free
• And finally, no person or blog explains the tips and secrets to flying as well as flyertalk.com/forum/
I love Kayak, too. But when I was booking my mom and my trip to Ireland this fall (it’s a 30/60 birthday present) Priceline was the best deal for me. I had priceline, kayak, and cheaptickets opened in tabs and kept checking the three. I managed to snag 2 RT tickets PHL-DUB for under $800.