You don’t have to spend so much money on air travel that you have to skimp on the rest of your trip. With a little planning and some clever tricks, you can save money on your next flight. Based on my travels and experience, here are 20 ways to save.
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1. Look at More Than the Ticket Price
It’s not always cheapest to buy the flight with the lowest price posted. Economy airlines don’t always include things like baggage fees or food in the ticket price stated and when you add these, it might be cheaper to fly with a regular airline.
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2. Travel Off-Season
It’s not only hotels and restaurants that tend to be cheaper during low season. Flights are often much cheaper off-season than during the peak tourist season.
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3. Mind the Holidays at Your Destination
Flights are more expensive during the holiday season at home but you also need to take into account the holidays and festivals at your destination. For example, it’s usually more expensive to fly to the Middle East around the Muslim religious holiday of Eid or to Latin America during Semana Santa.
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4. Track Prices
Travel search engines like Skyscanner and Google Flights have special tools that allow you to track ticket prices over a longer period of time, for instance over the course of a month. This will give you an idea of when it’s cheaper to fly.
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5. Sign Up for Airfare Alerts
There are many websites that will send you airfare alerts when fares drop below a certain price. Signing up for these means you’ll be among the first to know when cheap tickets are available.
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6. Use Social Media
Airlines often use social media to advertise special airfare deals. Follow your favourite airlines on Twitter and Facebook and you’ll know about those last-minute specials but remember to act fast, since these flights tend to sell out quickly.
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7. Book From a Different Location
Where you book from can make a difference in the cost of flights. When you search airfares or are ready to book, change your country setting and see if you can nab a cheaper ticket if you pretend you’re from, say, Brazil.
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8. Be Flexible About When to Fly
Don’t have your heart set on flying at a specific time on a specific day. Flight prices can vary wildly between different times of day and between different days.
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9. Be Flexible About Airports
The airport you’re flying from or to can also make a big difference in the ticket price. Try changing the airports in your search settings. You can try airports in nearby cities or even in neighbouring countries.
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10. Clear Your Cookies
Your browser history can affect the results you find when you search for flights. Clear the cookies from your browser and try again.
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11. Take Advantage of Cultural Connections
Flights between countries that have cultural, historical or linguistic connections are often cheaper. For example, from Canada to Europe you may get better deals if you fly to France than if you fly to Greece or Spain.
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12. Buy Separate One-way Tickets
When you compare flight prices, don’t automatically go for round-trip tickets. It can be cheaper to buy separate one-way tickets to your destination and back, especially if you try flights from different airports.
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13. Fly Indirect
It’s often much cheaper to fly indirect than to get a direct, non-stop flight to your destination. However, remember that including one or two stopovers will increase your travel time so only consider this option if time isn’t an issue.
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14. Fly on Different Airlines
Consider breaking down your trip into several shorter flights. Then check the offerings from different airlines for each leg of the route. This can be cheaper than flying with only one airline or with the same airline alliance.
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15. Buy Separate Tickets for Groups
Airlines often have limits on the number of tickets one person can buy at a specific price. If you’re flying in a group, buy each ticket separately to take advantage of the cheaper deals.
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16. Book With the Airline
Airlines tend to have special deals for travellers who book with them directly rather than through a third-party booking site. Spend a little more time finding out which airlines fly to your chosen destination and then checking their websites for flights.
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17. Avoid Phone Bookings
Some airlines charge an additional fee if you book over the phone. If you’re reluctant to book online and want to make a phone booking instead, first check what the fees are.
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18. Use Smaller Airlines
Smaller airlines may offer much cheaper flights to your destination. However, remember to check that the fare includes baggage fees, airport taxes and all those other hidden add-ons.
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19. Book a Package Deal
You can often find great deals if you bundle your flight with a hotel booking and even a rental car from the same company. This is especially true for resort destinations. You can always move to another hotel once you’re at your destination so you don’t have to be stuck with a package holiday.
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20. Take Advantage of Your Credit Card
Your credit card may offer you all kinds of travel perks as part of its rewards program. These include points/miles, free baggage, insurance benefits and VIP lounge access.