Whether you’ve been hit by the Polar Vortex or are simply enduring the typical freezing temperatures that winter brings, chances are you’re probably dreaming of sitting on a warm beach, piña colada in hand. (We are, too.) Fortunately, now’s the time to start thinking about that spring break getaway or summer vacation and get it scheduled. To keep airfare from eating up the majority of your travel budget, try one (or several) of these quick and easy tips.
1. Be flexible.
If you can avoid traveling on the weekends, do so. That’s because you can often land deals by flying midweek. Booking an itinerary with a stop, as opposed to a direct flight, can also be another great way to lower your costs.
2. Use an airline credit card.
These days, there are à la carte charges for everything: extra legroom, early boarding, checking luggage, eating a meal on-board. While some of these fees are inevitable, others are avoidable simply by using an airline credit card to book your travel. For instance, an airline credit card may offer cardmembers no-cost priority boarding and the ability to check one bag for free (up to four people per reservation), which could be a savings of up to $200. And it’s most likely a rewards card too, so, since you may earn miles for each purchase you make, it’s easy to rack up miles to use towards a ticket for travel.
3. Understand what’s a deal.
Instead of hitting up numerous websites trying to figure out a decent price for, say, a flight from Chicago to Savannah, Georgia, simply enter the departure and arrival cities at Hopper, which takes much of the work out of shopping for airfare. Not only does this new website tell you what’s a good deal for the route, but it also informs you when the best times to travel are and whether demand is increasing.
4. Take all fees into consideration.
Before making a reservation, it’s wise to research the cost of any fees you’re likely to pay and calculate your total cost. Otherwise, you might pay less for the actual ticket, but more overall once you’re billed for fees to carry on a bag and check another one, for instance.
5. Clear your computer’s browser history.
This may sound strange, but some travel websites keep track of online searching and raise prices if they see you searching repeatedly but not buying. By cleaning out your cache as you shop, you could land a flight for the price you originally spotted it at — or even lower.
6. Book your ticket on a Sunday.
There’s no guarantee that buying a seat on this day will always net you the best deal. But a recent study from the Airlines Reporting Corporation, a ticket tracking organization, found that you’ll pay, on average, $110 less than the average ticket price when making a purchase on a Sunday.
7. Request a refund.
Some airlines offer cash back if the ticket price drops below what you paid for it. (Details vary, so check with each carrier for specifics.) Sign up with Yapta, and the site will track your flight, notifying you if you’re entitled to a refund. And while that doesn’t make flying pain-free on your wallet, just the possibility of getting some money back does make it just a little bit friendlier.
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