4 Airline Secrets That Will Save You Money (And Stress)
Overpriced tickets, lost luggage, missed connections—we’ve seen it all, and we’re sure you have, too. Heed these expert airline travel tips to ensure your next journey is stress-free and cost-effective.
A little bit of preplanning can go a long way toward happy travels.
Traveling by plane can be drain on your mind, your body (hello ever-shrinking leg room) and your wallet. But with a little insider advice and airline travel tips from pilots, flight attendants and other frequent flyers, you can be cruising at 35,000 feet, carefree and confident you’ve done everything possible to spare yourself the high costs and headaches of airline travel.
Ship items to your destination
These days, most airlines charge you to check a bag or carry on luggage that’s bigger than a personal item, including some handbags and laptop cases. Because fees can be upward of $35 per piece, the cost of travel can add up, especially if you have children in tow. Shipping your luggage via FedEx, DHL or UPS has multiple benefits—in addition to being less expensive.
Dad, banking/finance professional and frequent flyer, Daniel Davila (he’s racked up almost 4 million airline miles on business, as well as family trips), often ships luggage and bigger items like golf clubs, conference materials or a baby stroller to his final destination. “When I’m out for a week or longer and must take an oversize bag or two, I’ll DHL it,” he says. “And then I typically just fly with a carry on.”
You’ll save time when landing because instead of having to wait at baggage claim, you can head directly to your destination. More importantly, shipping luggage allows you to insure bags against loss or damage for the full value of their contents.
Avoid booking travel on Sundays or anytime in December
Sunday is hands-down the most expensive day to fly. Amy Sedeno, Senior Account Executive for a Communications and Public Relations firm in Miami and New York, agrees. “I find that playing with dates on Google Flights usually results in the best fares,” Sedeno says. “It's just a matter of having flexibility with your schedule.”
Tuesday and Wednesday flights, on the other hand, can save you an average of $25 per trip year-round, except in December, which is known as the most expensive month to travel anywhere. Low prices in December average $360, while in January those same flights drop to $279. July is the second-most-expensive month to fly because teachers and families tend to take summer trips while school is out. Our advice: set price-drop alerts for cities you want to visit to snag the best deal.
Search for hidden-city ticketing to save money on your itinerary
Sometimes a layover gets you exactly where you need to go for less than a direct flight. Websites/apps like Skiplagged help you find and book cheaper flights, with a loophole. A flight from Los Angeles to Miami may have a stop in Chicago—and if Chicago is actually your desired destination, you can book this flight and “miss” your connection to Miami. This is known as a “hidden city” trip. Beware when using a flight this way, though; in some cases, airlines may revoke your frequent flyer privileges or take away your earned miles.
Pack a lunch and your own “airplane amenities” kit
In a recent New York Times article, lifestyle writer Shivani Vora suggests flyers pack their own food and airplane amenities to save money and calories. Many flight attendants travel with their own food, Vora says, citing a couple of reasons. The most apparent is that in-flight meals are less hearty than they used to be and are higher in fat and sodium. As for amenities, pack a neck pillow, blanket or sweater, lip balm, hand cream and headphones. It gets cold on planes, blankets aren’t always free and buying a hoodie in the airport terminal can set you back $50. For extra comfort, throw in a refreshing facial mist and motion sickness medication, as well as a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer.
Discover more travel tips and recommendations here.