Learn the Insider Secrets
These are “secrets” in the sense that they’re hidden in plain sight – but it can be helpful to be reminded of these money saving ideas. Some will save you time to, which can be even more valuable.
Are you an air travel insider? You are if you know these tips and apply them everytime you buy and fly.
For the rest of you, let me take some of the mystery out of making the best air travel buying decisions.
Top 10 Secrets of Air Travel Insiders
Want to save ? Do like the insiders do:
1. Fly the Cheapest Days of the Week: The cheapest days to fly – to book your departures and/or arrivals – are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. As you may have noticed, a lot of airline sales require you to fly on those days.
2. Fly Cheap Airlines – Sometimes: The proper term is, “low cost carriers.” In the olden days, we called them “no frills airlines” but since few carriers offer much in the way of frills these days, let’s stick to “low cost”.
However, if you insist on frills – like assigned seats – Southwest is not for you (unless you pay for their EarlyBird check-in and cut to the front of the line).
Note: No matter what airline you choose, you must compare airfare prices – because sometimes the legacy carriers will fool you and meet or beat the others’ prices.
3. Purchase Airfare on Tuesdays: You will tend to find more cheap airfare on Tuesday than any other day.
This is because of a fairly recent phenomenon: the launch of airfare sales on Monday nights. Once one airline comes out with a sale, the others join in since none of them want to be left out since they all want your business. This “fare-matching” process is generally all wrapped up by 3pm on Tuesday.
4. Don’t Pay Bag Fees: Surely you can find something better to do with your money, right?
Do what I do – always use a carryon (and I’ve gained some converts to my “carryon-only” philosophy); if you can’t, try Southwest (two free bags) or JetBlue (one free bag).
5. Be Flexible: You can save if you fly when prices are low, instead of shoe-horning your time off into the airline’s schedule.
You see, airlines have been studying consumer shopping and travel patterns for years and will charge you a premium on the days and times they know you want fly – so don’t go with the flow – meaning, don’t fly on Fridays and Sundays (usually the most expensive days to fly). Work with your employer so you can be a little flexible when planning days off.
6. Fly the Big Hubs – Usually: Not always, but often flying in and out of a large airport will save you money.
When you search for the cheapest flight from your town, notice the “Filters” on the left – be sure and click the Airport Filter to see prices at nearby hubs – you may see an airfare worth driving a little farther for.
7. Use Airfare Alerts: Save time and money.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – don’t be a slave to your computer! Let our technology do the work for you, by finding price drops for trips you’re interested in and we’ll send them to you in real-time, I promise. Sign up for these free airfare alerts right on our homepage.
8. Fly Out of Season: Want to go to the mountains? Might want to skip ski season – or if you must go boarding, try the very beginning and end of the season. And since Hawaii is typically pricey in the winter, try one of the other seasons – it’ll be warm and beautiful whenever you arrive.
9. Avoid Other Airline Fees: This one’s easy to do.
Just take a look at our airline fee chart, and skip the food, skip the pre-boarding, skip the phone reservations and leave the dog at home. And whatever you do, try not to move your dates (those airline “change fees” can be killers).
10. Save Time at Security: First of all, know the TSA Airport Security rules for passing the lines quickly. You know, no liquids above what you can put in a 3.4 ounce container in a single clear plastic quart-size bag.
And remember, starting Nov. 1, 2010 – your airline must have your “Secure Flight” information, and most want to have that info in their reservation systems a few days before your departure: your full name as shown on your government ID, your date of birth, and your gender.
Now go out there and work these tips, and let me know how you do.
Photo from Flickr