Though Spirit Airline’s new $100 carry-on bag fee won’t be in place until early November, it does have families planning summer vacations asking, “How much is too much?”
Don’t pack away your summer vacation plans just yet. Yes, prices are higher and fees are ubiquitous, but there are a few tricks that are almost guaranteed to save you a few bucks. Here are five:
1. Drive to a larger airport. Consolidation and capacity cuts in the industry have left small and midsize airports more expensive to fly in and out of. Less competition always means higher fares. Even if it’s a bit of a drive, you’re likely to get a better price by flying out of a larger airport, where there’s more competition. Bonus: You’re also far more likely to get a direct flight out of a larger airport, which reduces travel time and the hassle of a connection.
2. Know the going rate. According to Travelocity, the average cost of a round-trip domestic ticket is $383 and $880 on international flights. It may not sound like much of a deal, especially for a family that requires multiple tickets, but it’s a good number to keep in mind when you’re shopping. If you find a seat that’s cheaper, jump on it.
3. Don’t wait until the last minute. Research shows the prime time to buy airfare is six weeks before the intended departure date. After that, prices generally go up. This is especially true over holiday weekends and during peak travel times, like the summer months.
4. Use Twitter. Airlines will periodically push out Twitter-only deals. The routes and dates are usually very specific, but if you’re flexible about your destination it can be a money-saver. One of the best is @jetbluecheeps, a handle from JetBlue with the primary goal of pushing out sale fares. Twitter bonus: If something goes wrong with your flight, Twitter is a great way to hear about it (and get helped) fast.
5. Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. They’re the least-traveled days of the week and the cheapest to fly. Sure, you would rather leave Friday night after work — but so would everyone else. Even incorporating just one of these days into your flight plans can save big bucks.