My goal for 2018 was to fly somewhere at least once a month, and I did. Even when my friends want to travel, they have me look up flights, just to see if I can find a cheaper deal. If you can dedicate fifteen minutes without being stressed from prices, dates, and airports, the outcomes are always worth it when you find a cheaper flight. Take a look at the 5 tips that I use to book flights.
1. Thursdays are your friend!
If you plan in advance, try to search for tickets four weeks in advance on a Tuesday. You can use Google Flights to see a calendar of dates and prices for different airlines. Check again two days later on Thursday, and sometimes the prices may have decreased. Most sales for airlines also start on Thursdays. The only downfall to Google Flights, they do not include Southwest Airlines in their results, so check out Southwest's website as well.
2. Check multiple websites.
The #1 mistake that most people make is paying for the cheapest flight that they see on a company's website. It is always a good idea to check the major airlines' websites first, then travel sites with deals. Whenever I am searching for a flight, I check Google Flights first, just to get an idea of what I will most likely be spending. Next, I check Southwest and Delta's websites for sales and estimates based on my travel dates. If the numbers are significantly different, I always go with the lowest value. Be sure to factor in an extra $30 per flight for every airline. Southwest is the ONLY airline where you get two free bags per flight.
3. Vouchers add up.
Whenever you fly, you are paying for a service. If you have any troubles during your flight, such as delays, problems with the plane, bag damage, or your bags get lost... it happens, it is your job as the customer to complain. If you are not in a rush to get to your destination and you hear the flight agent offer a voucher for giving up your seat on a flight, take it! I gave up a seat once on a flight home during college for a $300 voucher. I ended up flying home early the next day instead without having to pay anything extra for the new flight. I also had a bad experience with my bag not making it on a flight transfer during a layover, and I complained that my work laptop was in my bag, as I was supposed to go to work once I landed (I do not recommend doing that ever again!). Southwest provided me a $75 voucher and even delivered my luggage to my house a few hours later.
4. Budget airlines are bad, but not THAT bad.
Sure, you hear people talking bad about Spirit and Frontier airlines. You cannot expect to pay bare minimum fares and receive first class service, that's a given. However, budget airlines are not bad for weekend getaways. These airlines make their money by charging for bags, snacks, water, and sometimes even oxygen. Always pay for the oxygen, because a roundtrip flight for less than $100 will take your breath away. I am a go with the flow person, so I always have a snack in my bag, and fall asleep as soon as the plane takes off the ground, which saves me money. Now there are plenty of downfalls to budget airlines, and my Twitter rants can verify that. If any flight delays occur, you will feel like a lost child in a big city. I spent an entire night in Detroit a few months ago because of a storm in NYC, and Spirit literally told me and 100 other passengers: "Our next flight to New York is two days away, you can rebook for free or get a refund and go to another airline." They also were not offering hotel rooms for free because the delay was weather related. Luckily, I was able to rebook a flight the next morning, and had a friend to stay with during my extended layover. Now Frontier, I will gladly pack a backpack and hop on a $40 fight to Atlanta; the only bad part is they only have flights two to three days out the week.
5. Use your points!
If you purchase multiple flights throughout a year, you should have racked up some type of loyalty rewards points. I have saved up thousands of Rapid Rewards points on Southwest, because I fly with them majority of the time, because of the two free bags! It is free to create your account, and you can always log in to track your progress. They will also email to inform you when flights will be on sale. For those of you who are financially savvy, I would recommend getting a credit card through an airline to rack up on points. I keep saying that I will apply for a Southwest credit card since you get double points that you can use on flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.
Hopefully this helps in time before you book your next flight. Don't forget to share the tips with your friends and hashtag #rightfootfirst when your'e boarding your next flight!