5 Ways to Screw Up Summer Vacation Flights

If you want decent summer airfare prices and stress-free flights, don’t do any of these things!

LISTEN: No, Rick Seaney doesn’t screw up. His podcast partner does.

How to Screw Up Vacation Flights

There’s the right way, the wrong way and the screwed-up way.

  • SCREW UP 1: Wait a while before you shop for tickets

You know the day you planned on buying your airfare? Shop one day earlier. In other words, do not delay when buying peak season airfare because once you hit the 30-days-before-departure mark, fares go up and up.

  • SCREW UP 2: Ignore the possibility of delays and cancelations

Summer weather can delay and cancel flights just as often as winter weather, and it can be whole lot worse. Have a back-up plan.

  • SCREW UP 3: Don’t look for discounts because they don’t exist

Airlines sometimes offer discounts on flight+hotel package deals and you’ll see some of these in our Deals Blog, but discounts are available for a wide range of attractions. One of the best is the senior pass (age 62 and up) good for all U.S. National Parks and other federal recreation areas; pay a one-time fee of $10 and you’ll get into these beautiful parks free for the rest of your life.

Note: Not a senior? The Park Service offers other discounts.

  • SCREW UP 4: Pay no airline fees whatsoever

While fees in general are a pain, some are actually worth it and here are a few examples:

  • Early boarding fees ($12.50 on Southwest)
  • Wi-Fi fees (American currently offers an all-day smart phone pass for $8)
  • Economy comfort/preferred seats (Delta prices this at $9 and up)

Airline-branded credit cards may also entitle you to a perk or two for free; if you’re not sure, do about two minutes of homework to find out.

  • SCREW UP 5: Carry-on bags are a pain

A carry-on can be a bother sometimes (wrestling one into a lavatory stall, maybe) but it’s a small inconvenience compared to the $50 fee for a single checked-bag. The real payoff comes after the flight when you walk past the baggage carousel – and the poor travelers huddled around it – who may have to spend another half-hour or more waiting on their suitcase.

Read more on this in Rick’s latest column for ABC News. See all Rick’s columns here.

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Published: July 1, 2014