If you enjoy lighting money on fire and overpaying for airline tickets, you'll likely want to click away. If you prefer to find other uses for your money, travel better and see more of the world, you'll likely want to grab the reading glasses. When it comes to purchasing airline tickets, there's lots of chatter about the best time to buy and where to go, but that won't help you every time you book. Here are five tips which will help you on every single booking...
Look For Eligible Discounts
Many airlines offer discounts to organizations and companies for lots of reasons. It could be a professional guild, an interest group, a certain credit card or just a promo code you found online. It's ALWAYS worth checking before you press purchase. For example, on any British Airways ticket from the US, AARP, an interest group which anyone can join for $16 a year, offers $75 off economy and $400 off all business class fares. I've successfully stacked this discount onto great fares, saving me $400, every time I go to Europe. Additionally, many airlines offer holders of the airline's credit card up to 10% off all flights. Look around.
Hidden City Ticketing
There is nothing wrong with hidden city ticketing, we're just playing a system which we did not create. Taking advantage of hidden city ticketing, where you purchase a ticket which STOPS in the city you actually want to go to, and then hop off, can be a huge money saver, compared to direct prices; even though that makes no sense. Since you only book one way at a time, the trick allows you to save money, while adding flexibility in your return price. To master the techniques, and understand potential implications, check out this post. Oh, and never tell an airline you plan to skip a flight. There are a million justifiable reasons why that may happen...
Play With Currency, Dates, Airports, Booking Sites
I never just settle in and search from one place to another. Before committing my money to an airline ticket, I check to see if buying it in a different currency, adjusting my dates or checking nearby alternate airports can knock anything off the price. Naturally, while doing so, you could look into hidden city options mentioned above. The easiest way to do this is to check the ITA Matrix, Google Flights or Hipmunk and get creative. You never know what savings you may find. Sometimes it's worth going to another city, paying extra to position, for major savings.
Don't Buy Too Late OR Too Early
Almost every clickbait bulls**t post you've ever seen about the "secret time to buy tickets" is exactly what I said it is. There are, however, some ground rules. Airlines impose higher fares as dates close in, capitalizing on uncertain travel plans. For domestic tickets, the 30-90 day range is a good time to look. For international flights the answer is often earlier. Buying a week before your flight will almost always hurt your wallet. All timing aside, one thing you absolutely do not want to do, is buy a ticket you'll need to change. Change fees are increasing by the minute and paying one will ensure that even if you originally got a great deal, you now have a bad one. Firm up your plans and book within those date ranges...
Learn To Add Stopovers Or Search Open Jaw
Some tickets, especially international tickets, allow for additional flights to be added on along the way to your destination and on the way home, at no additional expense. You'll feel like a real idiot if you book an expensive flight and buy an additional flight to the other place you want to visit if you find out that both places were included for free. This is where using a travel agent can be a big bonus, as they will understand fare rules and how to force stops in.