10 smart ways to save big on airfare

When you choose your holiday destination, chances are that it will usually be influenced by the cost of the flight tickets. That’s not surprising as it represents the most significant part of the total budget. This is especially the case when you’re traveling with kids. Do you know that there are several options available that will help you to save big on airfare? Well, you should! It has helped us save a significant amount on our Hawaiian trip. Remember that exotic destination that’s been on your bucket list for years? After reading this post, you might get there sooner than you’d anticipated!

Travel concept with air tickets or boarding pass, passports, touchscreen smartphone with online airline tickets booking or reservation internet application, magnetic compass, credit cards and pen on world geographic map atlas1. Error fares

Mistakes happen, also in the airline’s pricing process. These are called error fares and are hidden opportunities to save big on airfare. When you find one then you can trust that it will only be available for a very short time. Therefore you should act quickly by instantly booking and paying by credit card.  As soon as the airline becomes aware of the mistake, the booked ticket can be cancelled (although this is less likely when you’ve already received the electronic ticket). Even then it’s best to wait a while to book your accommodation too. And always respect the golden rule by NEVER contacting the airline to double check if the price on offer is correct. You would break the deal instantly.

You can search for hours in order to find an error fare or you could simply follow the FlynousSecretFlying & Fly4free websites or set an alarm on social media to be in the know on every deal.

2. Follow the airline

It could pay off to subscribe to the newsletters of the airlines with routes to the destination of your choice or to set Twitter alerts so you won’t miss any deal. Better yet: subscribe for their frequent flyer program so you’ll be in the know as soon as promotional fares become available.

Some airlines offer yearly recurring promotions, such as Qatar Airways’ 2-for-1 deal in early February for travels during the spring season. If you are planning a trip around that time, then you should definitely subscribe to this airlines’ newsletter so you won’t miss out on this promotion! If this doesn’t help you to save big on airfare, then we don’t know what does.

Screenshot of Qatar Airways Valentine's companion offer and conditions to show the importance of signing up on airline newsletters in order to save big on airfaire

3. When to book

Different studies exist researching the best time to make that booking. Generally it’s assumed that the best prices are offered 11 months or 3 to 6 months before departure.

On Tuesdays in the early morning airlines tend to offer the best deals. This makes this time of the week interesting to potentially save big on airfare. You should know that these usually only apply to about 10% of the available seats so do your research beforehand to jump to the occasion when the time is right.

Do you want it even more specific like, for example, tailored to your destination? Then let us introduce you to Hopper! This app analyses the ticket prices, deducts trends and predicts the best purchasing time for your selected airfare. This link will lead you to the iOS version, this link to the Android version.

Screenshot of the Hopper app that predicts the best purchasing time for the selected airfare in order to save money

4. Flexibility in date

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are usually the most budgetfriendly deparure days. You can’t change school holidays; keep in mind however that you could already benefit from a flexibility of 1 to 3 days. So the kids could miss out on the first 3 days of the 2nd semester but in return they will learn so much at an exceptionnal destination that would otherwise be out of reach. This might even be a source of inspiration for their next school lecture?

Upon browsing for flights, many bookingsites even show what the price difference is if you are willing to show some flexibility as to dates, as indicated by the following screenshots Google Flights and Momondo.

Screenshot of Google flight search to show how flexibility in date can help in order to save on airfare

Screenshot of Momondo flight search to show that flexibility in date can help in order to save on airfare

5. Flexibility in point of departure

In the article Why (not) to fly from the nearest airport you read all about possible savings by choosing an airport that might be just slightly further from your home.

To save on parking costs, we strongly recommend using an online parking comparison site. If you ever fly from Australia, then Flyparks is such a site that helps you find the best parking deal for, let’s say, Brisbane Airport Parking.

6. Flexibility in destination

Often you start with a destination to then search for the best priced flight to take you there. This is how we do it too. Unfortunately this methods excludes the best options. If you intend to travel to a unique destination for the lowest possible price then you should inverse this process: Do you spot a cheap flight to a unique destination that appeals to you on some level then look up the climate and travel advice. If everything checks out then go for it, make that booking and save big on airfare!

Check out the possibilities within your travel budget via Kayak Explore!

Screenshot of Kayak flight search to indicate how a flexibility in destination helps to save on airfare

Some airfare promotions may be in low season or during school holidays. However, you might often find a hidden gem with a lot of potential for travels with the kids. You will find these fares for example when airlines promotes a new flight route an the chances that the holiday season of that particular airline’s country coincide with the one in your country could be rather small.

7. Airlines offering child discounts

Do you fly with kids then make sure to inform about the child policy of the airline.

  • For baby’s (until the age of 24 months is reached, designated term “infant”) this is the most common procedure: You can take the baby on your lap during the course of the flight. Usually an airline will charge 10% of the adult’s airfare plus taxes but there are exceptions to this rule. United Airlines, for example, will only charge the taxes for the infant for US domestic flights. Do note to count the baby among the passengers upon booking: he or she will receive a personal boarding pass, although being it without assigned seat. And do keep in mind that only a few babies are allowed on each flight.
  • For children the pricing differs from one airline to another. Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa offer discount of 25 to 33% for intercontinental flights to 2 to 11 year old. Follow this link for further information.

8. Monitor your ticket price after reservation

Even though you have followed up on previous tips, it is still very well possible that ticket prices decrease closer to date. You could monitor the fare and determine, depending on the restrictions in your original booking class, whether or not you would gain by rebooking your ticket and cancelling the original one (in that particular order).

9. Stay anonymous

Current technologies allow you to save your search history. This is originally meant to load webpages faster during following visits, and to adjust the results accordingly. Not every company takes advantage of these cookies but the big players do. Therefore it’s in your interest to clear your cache or redo the search for tickets from another browser or device.

Apart from that you could benefit from visiting the same booking site with a different country’s extension. I have read success stories about this on the subject of Momondo. It might help you to save big on airfare! Do take into account the language barrier (Google Translate is there to help) and currency (check the conversion rate via XE).

10. Flexibility in route

Do you have a sense of adventure? Then go rogue and book the alternative way to save big on airfare:

Separate tickets

A return ticket is usually cheaper, that’s general knowledge. That explains why no one every even bothers to look for separate tickets anymore. However occasionally you could run out on a good deal. Google Flights is the perfect partner to help you do so: Start the search for a flight and then click the link ‘more’ after which you will see the option to search for loose tickets.

Screenshot of Google Flights flight search to show that a flexibility in route can help to save big on airfare

Screenshot of Google Flights flight booking guidelines for buying separate tickets for one trip in order to save money on airfare

(Double) open jaw

The classic return flight, when you depart from and arrive in the same airport, is the obvious choice. So a flight from A to B and then back from B to A. An alternative is an open jaw ticket: you take the return flight from a different airport than at which you arrived. So you fly out from A to B and return from C to A. Airlines plan these routes to promote certain destinations or outsmart the competition. A double open jaw is similar but then applied to both departure and arrival airport. So for example you fly from Brussels to Miami and then back from Orlando to Amsterdam.

Hidden city ticketing

  • What is it?

A more advanced option to save big on airfare is to book a one way journey with a connection in the desired city and then not taking the last flight leg. So you fly from airport A via airport B to final destination C but stay in B and skip the last flight. This option is only interesting if you’re traveling with hand-luggage only. The CosmopoliClan has no experience with this and most airlines don’t allow it. However, we do want to offer you a complete overview and therefore hold to share some best practices that we came across during our research.

It is important not to book a return ticket within this same booking. After all, your no-show on one flight will automatically imply a cancellation of all other flights in that same ticket. So always make sure to skip only the last leg of your ticket. The biggest price difference will occur when choosing as airport B an airport that is only served by a minor number of airlines that therefore pay more to have this privilege. For the last airport C you then best choose a hub where many airlines are represented and therefore pay less. You should also take into account that things could go sour when you play this game. After all, every airline is allowed to reroute you to get you to your final destination C. Therefore, the airline counts on the passenger’s flexibility when it comes to the connecting airport B.

  • Where to find it?

Are you curious to find out the possibilities in hidden city ticketing, then check out the Skiplagged website. Remember that your checked-in luggage will usually be labeled to the final destination. This makes this booking strategy really only interesting if you’re traveling with hand luggage or when you need to switch airports at connection B (for example from New York JFK to New York LGA).

Your time to save big on airfare

If you’d like to stay in the loop on interesting opportunities for longhaul flights then make sure to follow FlynousSecretFlying & Fly4free via this link or their Facebook page. You’ll see how much flexibility is worth.

Does one of these tips get you a nice discount in the future? Or do you have more tips and best practices to save on big airfare? Then we want to hear from you!

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