Taylor is the king of finding great airfare deals! When people ask us how we afford to travel so often it boils down to the cost of airfare. We NEVER pay the crazy full price for any of our tickets and people are usually amazed at how little we pay. Besides a lack of time, most people don’t travel because they don’t want to pay hundreds and thousands of dollars for a flight.
The internet is loaded with articles that will tell you how many days in advance to book a flight or which days you shouldn’t fly on, so this is not going to be another one of those posts. Because let’s be real, nobody actually buys their flight because this website said approximately 62 days before your trip your flight will be the cheapest. We also understand that everyone’s circumstances are different. What works best for us, may not work for someone else.
The biggest piece of advice we can give you about finding the cheapest flight possible is always be persistent and be willing to be spontaneous. As soon as you know where and when you want to go, start researching flights. Flights change daily, so it helps to keep checking. However, airlines will drop their prices when they want to fill a flight and if you’re looking to get away on short notice, you can find excellent deals!
The number one site that we use is Sky Scanner. This website cuts our research in half by listing all the best deals from several different airlines all in one search. This saves us from having to go to each airline’s website and retyping everything. Taylor uses multiple pages to search different days, different airports, and sometimes flying to a destination just to catch a cheaper flight to where we originally wanted to go.
One of our favorite features on Sky Scanner is the ability to look at the entire month and see which day is cheaper to fly to-and-from a destination. It’s no secret that flying on a Tuesday-Thursday can be A LOT cheaper than Friday-Monday. If your schedule is flexible, consider leaving on one of these days to save you a few dollars.
Another favorite is Skip Lagged. This site will show you if your final destination is a layover for another flight. For example, when Taylor and I were looking for flights to San Francisco, all the flights were several hundred dollars. Taylor went on Skip Lagged and found a flight that was from Philadelphia to Phoenix, but the layover was in San Francisco and it was half the cost! We were only packing carry-on bags so it was such a smooth process. DO NOT MISS THIS: If you are checking in your bags, you may run into some trouble. When you go to check in a bag tell the ticketing desk that you want your bags sent to the layover location and they should do this with no hassle. It doesn’t hurt to check with the airline before you book the flight.
When looking at the picture above, you’ll notice we were looking for a flight from Charlotte to Philadelphia. There were two flights that were going from CLT to LGA with a layover in PHL. By getting off the plane at the scheduled layover, we were able to save money. Win! Because of legal issues, you can’t just book the flight directly on this website. Unfortunately, you have to write down the flight number, airline, etc. and then go to the airline’s direct website to book the flight. Although it takes a bit longer, it can definitely be worth it. Also, YOU CAN NOT BOOK A ROUND TRIP TICKET! If you book a round trip ticket and get off at the layover destination the airline will cancel your remaining flight plans. So you need to book one way flights to-and-from your destination.
Don’t limit yourself to one airport. If it takes you an extra 15-45 minutes to get to another airport it’s worth researching, especially if the flight is cheaper! For example, it only takes us 20 minutes to get to the Greenville Airport and 1 hour to get to the Charlotte Airport, BUT the Greenville airfare is almost always double the price of Charlotte. So that extra drive is always worth it for us, even after parking expenses. You can use your better judgment with this.
Don’t park in the parking garage unless absolutely necessary. Don’t get me wrong, parking garages seem like an easy idea, but we would disagree. Not only are you overpaying, but you have to drive around looking for an open parking spot and then carry all your luggage down the stairs, across the street, and then into the airport. Most airports have long -term parking lots where you can park your car for as little as $5 a day. This includes 24-7 transportation to-and-from the airport. They will pick you and your bags up at your car and then drop you off directly at your desired gate while unloading your bags. These parking lots are typically called Park and Fly or Park and Jet etc.
If you are from America and looking to do an overseas vacation, look for the cheapest country to fly into. For example, Taylor and I wanted to go to China, but flights were outrageous so we looked for other options. We discovered that it was much, much cheaper to fly in-and-out of Thailand and then catch a separate flight into China from there. We could have spent $1,200 on a flight to China, but the flight in-and-out of Thailand and the flight to China totaled only $800. So we were able to spend 5 days in Thailand while saving $500! Make sure you leave a little wiggle room for delays and the unexpected if you don’t plan on staying in the other country.
If you are already at the airport and have an idea when you will be flying next, ask the airline desk what their best prices are for that date. During our long-distant relationship days, Taylor and I would already have an idea when we would see each other next and what airlines were offering online. When one of us was flying, we would go to the desk in the airport and ask for their price and they were ALWAYS offering a better rate. We’re not sure why, but it was totally worth it! One time, Taylor got himself a $50 round trip flight which was a fourth of the price airlines were offering online!
And last, as scary as this may be, airlines know EXACTLY what you are researching, how often you bring up a webpage, how often you’re on the page, and what you’re clicking on. Websites will raise their airline prices if they notice you searching for a flight, different hotels, and different restaurants in a specific area. They will know exactly when you’ll be there and how desperate you are to get there. Scary I know, but very true. The best way to avoid this is to delete your “cookies” and web history. You can also try searching in the incognito window if you are a google chrome user.
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