Keeping Airfare Costs Under Control
Flying keeps getting more expensive and well, we’re not really getting any more than we were before. But there are multiple ways to manage costs and get more bang for you buck. With a little bit of time spent you could end up in first class and spend the same money as those in coach. We gathered up our more seasoned travel experts, picked their brains on their experiences. Here is the Travel Experts guide to keeping your airfare costs under control. There really isn’t a best time to buy airfare, nor can you use past fares to predict future fares. Essentially buy your airfare when you are comfortable with the cost. Shop around, look at big websites like kayak.com and Google Flights. But, also check with the individual carriers, as the lower cost airlines like Southwest do not list their flights on the big on line websites. Look at nonstop versus connecting flights-sometimes you can save money making a connection. Check different airports in your area too. For instance, if you live in you live in the NYC area, you have several options including Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, Stewart and Westchester. Those in Philadelphia can look at Trenton, Lehigh Valley or even Atlantic City. Sometimes adding the cost of a train ride or a hotel room to the total, the savings can outweigh traveling a bit to the airport. Look for alternate airports near your destination as well. Sometimes you can fly into Ft. Lauderdale as opposed to Miami; or Tampa instead of Orlando. The Los Angeles area has 5 airports, San Francisco has 3 close by, you get the picture! Know your options and try departing from or arriving to alternate, nearby cities. Clear out your cookies too! No, not chocolate chip, but the ones on your computer. Airlines and hotels leave cookies on your computer to help sites load faster, BUT if a travel site knows you’ve been looking around, you may not always get the lowest rate for your travel dates. Check fares for both coach and premium classes of service. Sometimes, first or business class can actually be cheaper than economy. And when you figure in the costs of checking bags and selecting a seat, sometimes flying up front can even be cheaper overall! See the example below. This is for a one way flight from Philadelphia to San Juan, Puerto Rico on a random day in June. When you look at the fares in the red circle, business class is actually cheaper than coach. In the blue circle, business class is $31 more than coach; however, add $25 for 1 checked bag, $35 for another (you’re allowed 2 in premium class), plus seat fee, you may are better off in 1st class. When you get to selecting your seat, on some popular flights seats may have fee attached, if so don’t pick one. Instead, wait until you check in for your flight, chances are you’ll get one or more of those seats for free. Seats in exit rows or near the bulkheads can carry a heavy fee ( $75 on occasion), so keep your eye out the prices may change. If you are traveling with a group, it may be best not to risk being seated together, so paying for a seat at booking sometimes will make sense. However, if you’re willing to maybe not sit together, the savings can be HUGE! A final tip, if you are booking more than one seat, shop for both individually and as a group. Explaining fare buckets and revenue management can take hours. Suffice it to say that airlines have many different fares on every flight. Suppose you need 4 tickets. There might be 2 seats left at $200 each and then the next lowest fare is $400 per seat. Well, if you need 4 seats, but only 2 are offered at the lower price-guess what? The system will tell you that the seats are $400 each. BUT if you try, for example, to book 1 or 2 seats, you may get those at $200. What does this mean? If you want to book more than one seat, get a price for 1 and then a price for however many you need and compare them. If the price jumps up, try pricing out 2, 3 and so on….it’s a little tedious but you save some money since the average cost of your seat will be lower. Hopefully these tips will help you save on your next flight, and who knows? You might find yourself sitting next to one of your friendly Travel Experts!