I Work for an Airline: Here Are 10 Money-Saving Tips for Your Next Flight

Smiling caucasian traveler senior woman with backpack and hand luggage walking in airport waiting for departure flight.
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Air travel isn’t cheap. Of course, if you’ve recently booked a flight, you already know that.

As of the second quarter of 2023, the average cost of a domestic plane ticket was $391.79, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Thankfully, there are more ways to save on flights than you probably realize. GOBankingRates spoke with two travel experts to learn their secrets. Here’s their advice for finding the most affordable fare the next time you travel.

Set Fare Alerts

Shopping around for flights might take a little longer, but doing so can pay off.

“I use Google Flights to search and compare prices and flight schedules across multiple airlines,” said Julie Rose, a travel coach at Boutique Travel Advisors. “I set alerts so that Google will email me when the price of a route fluctuates — Skyscanner and KAYAK do this too.”

Consider a Nearby Airport

A certain destination airport might be the most obvious choice. However, if you’re willing to inconvenience yourself a bit, you could save a lot of money.

“When I went to Europe last year, it was much less expensive to fly into Ljubljana than Zagreb — a distance of only two hours,” she said. “Check to see if it will save you cash to fly into another airport and take a bus or train to your final destination.”

Make Your Money Work for You

An all-around win, you’ll have more cash to spend on your trip and get to see sights you would’ve otherwise missed.

Force Your Own Layovers

“On those long-haul flights, sometimes it’s cheaper to combine two one-ways than take the combo flight you’re offered,” she said. “For example, flights from Buenos Aires to Mexico in January that lay over in Bogota are hundreds more than a one-way to Lima and another one-way to Mexico City — just be mindful of layover windows and separate baggage fees.”

Clearly, a little creativity can result in big savings.

Mind the 24-Hour Window

“By law, in the U.S., all flights are cancelable within 24 hours after purchase,” she said. “Check back in that 24-hour window to see if the price of the flight dropped.”

If you think the price won’t drop that fast, think again.  “Just last week, I bought a flight, canceled it 18 hours later and rebooked, saving $85,” she said.

Change Country and/or Currency

“If you need to fly a foreign airline, sometimes you can save on your fare by changing your currency to that of the home country of the airline,” she said. “Run the numbers for each and use a currency exchange calculator, and make sure you pay with a credit card that carries no foreign transaction fees.”

She said this strategy just saved her $40, so it’s definitely worth trying.

Think About Upgrading to Refundable

“Usually, economy fare doesn’t allow free ticket changes or cancellations,” she said. Therefore, if there’s a price decrease, you can’t do anything about it.

Make Your Money Work for You

“See what the price difference is to upgrade to refundable fare,” she said. “If it’s a small amount and if you’re committed to watching for price changes, it’s worth it.”

She said her last flight cost just $30 more for a refundable fare.

Beware of Budget Airlines

On the surface, flying low-cost airlines might seem like a good idea, but Rose said they’re not worth the hassle.

“If I won’t book bottom-of-the-barrel budget airlines for my clients, I won’t book them for myself,” she said. “I’ve seen far too many canceled or delayed.”

Buy Travel Insurance

If you’re like many people, you’ve always passed on purchasing travel insurance, but it can be worth the added cost.

“I invest in a year-long travel insurance policy,” she said. “I highly recommend you do too, if you’re taking at least two trips in the coming year.”

Time Your Booking Right

It might seem like a stretch, but when you sit down and book your flight actually matters, said Anton Radchenko, CEO and co-founder of AirAdvisor.

“You’re likely to be charged more when making a flight booking on a Thursday or a Friday, so book your flights on Sundays where possible,” he said. “This applies to last-minute travel too, which can see prices for an upcoming week fall on Sundays, the day of the week when corporate travel bookings are also less likely to be made.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Travel on Cheaper Days

If your travel dates have a bit of flexibility, you can save money by flying on days that aren’t typically as busy for airlines.

“Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be the cheapest days of the week to travel, as opposed to weekends and Fridays and Mondays, which are far more popular days of the week to start a journey or return from a trip,” he said.

Getting even more specific, it’s not just the day of the week that matters. “Likewise, if you are trying to get the cheapest fare last-minute, flying early in the morning or late in the evening is best, because this is when airlines tend to have the cheapest rates available,” he said.

There’s no need to spend more money than necessary on your next flight. Hopefully, these tips will help you cut costs to make travel more affordable.

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