The world is finally opening up for travel, and you are ready to take the vacation you’ve been putting off for two years.
You open up your favorite airline app and realize that the tickets you were looking at back in 2019 are a good bit pricier. Industry experts predict prices will continue to go up over the next few months due to demand and the rising price of fuel.
7 Ways to Get Your Plane Ticket for Less
Use Airline Miles
Signing up for airline loyalty programs is a good way to stretch your travel dollar. Each airline and its partners has its own mileage program with a variety of perks and benefits. Not all airline miles programs are created equal, so it’s important to read the fine print.
Which airline miles program should you choose? It depends. Where do you fly most often? Are you a frequent flyer in the Pacific Northwest? Alaska Airlines has a great mileage program, and they partner with airlines such as Qatar, American Airlines, British Airways, and Japan Airlines.
Not only can you earn free flights with your miles, but you can also use miles to pay for upgrades to business or first class, and gain “status,” which means you have access to money and timesaving perks like free checked bags and priority boarding.
Signing up with frequent flyer programs is free, so if you fly, it makes sense to earn miles while you do it.
Get a New Credit Card
If flying itself won’t give you the miles you need for that round-trip ticket to Europe, there are ways to get miles that don’t involve flying. One of the most common and effective is to sign up for a branded credit card that offers mileage bonuses. Not only that but you can earn miles with everyday purchases like gas and groceries. Some cards even offer annual companion fares so a friend can fly free.
A quick search will yield a ton of results. You just need to wade through them to find the best ones. At any given time, airline-branded credit cards and bank credit cards may be offering significant bonus miles if you apply now. Keep an eye out for them because they often offer deals that can score you enough miles to pay for a round-trip to most destinations.
Do your homework to find out if the miles you are getting are the miles you want. There is no one right answer for everyone but cards from Capital One, CitiBank, and American Express are popular choices. Always look at all the angles. What do you need to do to redeem your bonus miles? What are the annual fees and interest rates? Also, pay attention to how those miles can be used. Airline miles aren’t useful if it’s impossible to redeem them for the flights you want.
The other perk is that many of these cards allow you to earn miles every time you make a purchase, and offer other benefits such as airport lounge access, free bags, trip insurance, and companion tickets.
But what if you don’t want to sign up for a new card or your credit isn’t quite up to par? Are there other ways to earn airline miles?
Yes, there are. Check your airline’s website, and you may find a shopping portal that can earn miles when you make a purchase through it. You can also earn miles booking hotels and rental cars. These miles don’t always count toward status, but they do count toward flights and flight upgrades.
Fly To a Different Airport or City
This is an easy fix that a lot of people don’t consider when buying tickets. When purchasing airline tickets, be sure to check nearby airports or cities to see if prices are lower.
An example of this is Paris. Most people opt to fly into Charles de Gaulle Airport, but you might get a better deal flying into Paris Orly Airport. The budget airline French Bee only flies into Orly, and their tickets are significantly cheaper than other airlines. You could save yourself hundreds of dollars by simply flying into a different airport.
Being flexible with your dates is one of the best ways to land cheap airline tickets. You can easily see how prices shift from day to day by opening up Google Flights and using the calendar to find out which dates have the lowest fares.
Sometimes shifting your travel dates by two or three days can save you money. Also, keep in mind that some days of the week are less expensive to fly than others. This will vary from airline to airline.
Use a Third-Party App to Find Deals
Google flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, and paid apps like Scott’s Cheap Flights are just a few of the apps and websites you can use to help you find cheap airline tickets. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these apps and to sign up for their notifications when you are searching for a specific route.
Scott’s Cheap Flights is a great app for finding airline pricing errors or “mistake fares” and notifying you. It happens more often than you think. Airlines also offer sales, but by the time you hear about them, it’s too late. Apps can help you keep on top of airline prices to the destinations you want to fly to.
It’s good practice to avoid booking through these sites, though, unless you have to. Use the app to find the cheap fare, then book directly through the airline. This is important for a few reasons, namely for your own protection in the event you need to cancel or change, and also so you can get credit for your miles.
Another tip: Search flights through an incognito browser or use a VPN.
Book your flight a minimum of three or four weeks in advance. If possible, start looking three months in advance.
For summer travel this year, secure your travel arrangements now. Don’t wait because prices are likely to go up. Try to be flexible as much as possible, and remember to search nearby airports or even consider flying into a different country. That may sound extreme, but flights within Europe are significantly cheaper than flying from the U.S. to Europe. Fly into a cheaper country and check local budget airlines for cheap tickets from one country to another.
An example: You search for round trip airfare from California to Rome. The round-trip tickets are nearly $1,400. So you search for flights to London and find tickets for $800. Pretty big difference. Now, search for tickets from London to Rome. You could find tickets for less than $100 each way. This may take more time, but it’s a big saving.
Sometimes convenience is more important than savings, but if you are flexible and willing to make multiple stops, you may save hundreds of dollars on airfare.
Sign Up for Fare Alerts
Sites like Google Flights and Skyscanner allow you to set up notifications for specific flights, routes, and dates. Do your search, get your results, and set up a notification that will alert you when prices fall or rise.
This is a handy feature when you search well in advance, and you have some time to play with it. If your trip is in a month or less, you don’t want to wait, but if you are planning two or three months in advance, it pays to set up a notification to see if prices dip. If you continue to see a rise in prices, don’t wait too long to lock it in, or to wait to see if they get lower, you may end up paying more.
Airline ticket prices are on the rise, but you can lock in better prices by planning ahead, being flexible, and getting creative.
Save Money on Other Travel Services
Securing savings on other parts of your journey will also assist you with air travel in general and one area of cost where it always pays to shop around is when considering your airport transfer service to and from your airport of choice. Don’t just settle for the in-airport provider, book well in advance where you can and maybe try one of the numbers of aggregators in the marketplace too for the best deals. Airport Transfers UK is one such company worth reviewing if you want to save money on national and international airport transfers.