Hacking travel: how to get the cheapest tickets part 2
Following part 1 of this guide, we covered what are the best sites to book your tickets, but just finding a good site is not beneficial if you dont use the correct techniques. There is more to getting the absolute prices than just looking at one website unless that website is this one. Here are some ways that you can utilize Kayak and google flights to get the best prices around.
Book in advance
I think this is common sense but some dont know how in advance they really need to book. Anything before 4 months of the departure will get you a decent price for the ticket, but at the 4-month mark is when you will find the lowest prices for that airfare. Anything after 4 months expect to pay climbing prices.
Checked baggage fees
Some airlines will charge to check a bag but ask yourself if you truly need that large suitcase. Remember all airlines will allow one personal item such as a purse or a small to medium-sized backpack (requirements is it fits under the seat in front of you) and one carry on item which can be a suitcase with max dimensions of 22”x14”x9” (56x35x23 cm). A decent amount of stuff can fit into a small suitcase and 20-25 liter backpack relinquishing the need for a checked baggage and its fee.
If you are like me and dont want to be keeping track of so many suitcases while traveling, most of the time the airlines will check in the suitcase for free at the gate. But remember, carry on suitcases must still pass security so dont bring any liquids thinking this is a loophole.
While layovers can sometimes suck, they can save a traveler a large amount of money. I once booked a flight with a layover only because it cut the tickets price in half! Allowing one layover can save a ton of money, but I found two layovers does not shift the price any lower and in some cases will raise the price. In the Kayak app I suggest allowing up to one layover to get the maximum amount of savings. It will suck flying those extra hours but the price difference is worth it and the layover destination is never far from your actual destination.
These are rarer and offered by only a few airlines. I assume this is a collaboration between the country and airline to increase tourism. So, what are stopovers? Stopovers are like layovers but instead of staying in the airport for a few hours you are dropped off for a few days allowing you to explore the city. Usually, tickets are the same price or even cheaper than a direct flight, but another advantage here is you can take a few days to see a city and then move on to the next city with the security of knowing all your itinerary is booked.
For example, you might get a stopover in Lisbon, Portugal for a two days and then head back into the airport to take another flight to Porto, Portugal. A ticket like this would be cheaper than going from your location to Porto or booking separate flights to Lisbon and then Porto. You save money and get to explore a city in that country before moving onto the next far away city.
These tricks might not save you as much money as the ones above or, I find, a little more complicated, but nonetheless are worth knowing.
Sometimes airlines will let you check bags for free at the gate. You still must meet the requirements of carry on bags and still pass security but you can relieve yourself of the bag and fly with less baggage.
Some airlines will charge a fee to check-in at the airport but waive this fee if you check in online. Read the emails they send you.
Cheap airlines will usually not give you a free checked bag even for international flights. Check their website and the emails they send you.
If the airline gives you the option to have your ticket through apple wallet then take it! It is easy to use and will update your gate number and departure time automatically. Just make sure your phone is charged.
Some credit cards give you points that you can use to get tickets. These credit cards usually make it difficult to redeem your points, sometimes have black out dates or dates you cannot purchase tickets for, and will not pay for the entirety of the ticket.
If you always or usually fly a specific airline then get a membership card from them. As you rack up miles they will upgrade your membership and grant you free upgrades to first class. It surprisingly easy to rack up miles, especially if you fly frequently.
Check tickets on a Tuesday. It used to be Wednesday but now I see prices the lowest on Tuesday. Of course this will change depending on the days that people look at prices the least.
This one ties into the previous tip. Use the Kayak buying advice graph. You can get an “idea” of when the prices will be at their lowest. I dont find it entirely accurate but it is still a good reference.