Rock Stars travel all the time because they have a lot of money and/or companies are flying them all around the world. If you don’t have either of the above then these money saving tips will help you travel more so your friends will think you are a rock star.
- Be flexible
The best way to score a deal and find cheap flights is to be flexible with your travel days. Obviously, the most expensive time to fly is when everyone else is traveling, too. Thanksgiving is one of the busiest and most expensive travel times of the year, for example. Everyone wants to leave the Wednesday before and return the following Sunday. Airlines have no reason to offer a deal on those days.
Thanksgiving deals are typically offered the Sunday or Monday before. See below for the cheapest deals found last year on a Google Flights search for a round trip ticket from New York to Miami during Thanksgiving.
- Consider the time of day
Everyone wants to fly after work or school, so don’t choose a specific time when searching for flights. Generally, the most expensive times to fly are peak business travel hours (8am to 10am and 5pm to 7pm). Cheaper seats tend to depart early in the morning (5am to 7am) or late in the evening (after 8pm). If you leave early in the morning, on the first flight out, for example, you have the least chance of getting delayed.
- Alternate Airports
Don’t limit flexibility to dates and times. Being flexible with airports can save you a lot of money. For example, if you’re traveling to South Florida, search for flights into Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, which are 25 and 49 miles north of Miami, respectively. Check out my website AlternateAirports.com to see major US alternative airports in driving miles. The chart below illustrates some examples.
- Consider making a stop
Booking a flight with a connection instead of a nonstop can sometimes save you a decent amount of money. If it’s only a small amount in savings, like $20, it isn’t worth it. But if it’s hundreds of dollars then it is, of course. The issue with a connection is it increases your chances of a delay or cancelled flight. Avoid connections in airports such as San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare or all of New York’s airports, which have a bad reputation for delayed flights.
- Stay away from the low-cost carriers
Allegiant, Spirit, Frontier, Norwegian, and WOW are just a few that are notorious for offering ridiculously low fares and then hitting you up for everything from assigned seats, checked baggage and even carry-on luggage.
The worst part is that now the legacy airlines like Delta and American don’t want to lose out so they’re going to offer the same kind of fares.
Just be sure to read the fine print on your fare before buying—even from the mainline carriers.
- Choose Southwest Airlines if you’re checking bags
As the original low-cost carrier, Southwest offers great low fares. Plus, they offer the first and second checked bag for free, which most airlines would charge an extra $120 for on a roundtrip ticket. Their fares aren’t listed on any flight search engines and can only be found on Southwest.com.
- Search tools
There isn’t one website that offers cheaper prices for airfares, hotels, rental cars, cruises or package deals, so you have to compare them all to ensure you get the best deal. On JohnnyJet.com, we have a new search engine where you choose your departure and arrival cities and dates and check rates. Six windows open to compare rates at websites such as Expedia, Priceline and TripAdvisor. Tools like this save you both time and money.
- Sign up for fare alerts
- Buy two separate tickets to Europe
If you’re traveling to a second destination in Europe, it’s usually smart to purchase two separate tickets. When I searched for tickets several years ago from New York to Sardinia, Italy, tickets cost around $2,000. When I searched for a flight from New York to London on a major airline and then London to Sardinia on a low fare carrier, I saved over $1,000. Most low fare carriers operate out of smaller airports, so be sure to allow plenty of time between flights, like a full day, and pack light to avoid the crazy baggage fees.
- Hold your airfares for free for 24 hours
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has stated that all US and foreign carriers have to allow consumers the ability “to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty.
However, if you’re booking a ticket with fewer than seven days before you fly, this rule doesn’t apply.
Note: American Airlines is the only airline that I’m aware of that allows consumers to hold a reservation without a credit card for 24 hours, making it much easier to cancel.
- Use frequent flier miles or credit card points
Typically, it’s tough to use your airline frequent flier miles during the holidays, if you don’t want to use double or triple the typical amount, unless your dates are flexible. I used 12,500 American miles for my wife to fly from Los Angeles to Toronto the Friday after Thanksgiving. If we’d left on the Sunday or Monday, it was double.
- Speak to a human
It’s always a good idea to check with an airline representative to see if they can find you a better deal when purchasing a mileage award ticket. They’re able to search partner airlines and alternate cities faster. To bypass the airlines’ annoying and time-consuming automated prompts, log on to GetHuman.com. Check out AirlineNumbers.com for a list of airline’s phone numbers and websites.
- Consult a travel agent
As you’ve learned, finding a deal can be a lengthy process, but it’s usually worth the savings. If you don’t want have the time to spend searching yourself, call a travel agent. It’s worth their $25 fee.
To give you an example, once I was flying from London to Bangkok and everything I was finding online was over $1,000. I called my travel agent and he found a flight on Etihad through Abu Dhabi for $550. It was well worth the $25 fee.
I also have a travel agent that can save me over 50% on international business class tickets.
- Hidden cities
The hidden city trick is against airline policy, so you’ll need to do this one on your own. One time I needed to get to Cleveland from LA and a non-stop one-way ticket was $600. I took my own advice and searched alternate airports and when I found a ticket to Buffalo for only $230 I noticed the flight first stopped in Cleveland ON THAT EXACT SAME $600 flight. It seems illogical to pay less for a longer flight that has a stop, but that’s how it is. In this scenario, if you wanted to break airline policy, you could purchase the cheaper ticket to Buffalo, pack only a carry-on and get off in Cleveland. Check out Skiplagged to search hidden cities faster.
- Sign up to newsletters
Sign up for as many newsletters as possible to stay up to date on travel deals. I recommend
- Use Twitter
Even if you don’t want to tweet, use twitter. Follow airlines, industry experts and aviation aficionados to learn about advertised and unadvertised fares. Here’s my list of who to follow on Twitter.
- Monitor Flyer Talk Message Boards
To find the cheapest fares possible, monitor FlyerTalk’s message boards, especially the “Mileage Run” forum, where you’ll find people posting airline “mistake” fares–when the airline’s pricing analyst accidentally types the wrong price. Generally these deals only last a couple of hours at most, so you need to check back often, but it can be seriously worth it, like finding a ticket from Boston to San Diego for $20.
Johnny Jet is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of JohnnyJet.com – The Travel Insider. In this video, Johnny gives you the advice you need to upgrade from coach to first class and the benefits of taking a cruise instead of a traditional vacation. For more insider trips, visit www.JohnnyJet.com!
Johnny Jet, JohnnyJet.com | February 18, 2016