When deciding where to go on your vacation, one of the main things you must budget for is the cost of air travel to and from your intended destination. To most major cities in the world you will have a number of different airlines to choose from, but it will take a little research to get the best ticket price so that your holiday money stretches that little bit further.
“No frills” airlines may not offer you a bag of peanuts or complementary meal during your flight, but they do offer the opportunity to save a substantial amount on the seat price when compared with a more up market airline. You should read the small print on all airline information and you need to pay particular attention to the rules and regulations of the budget flight operators as these often have a number of clauses which can cost you more money then you were expecting to pay if you aren’t careful.
One place they earn additional revenue is on excess baggage. A “no frills” airline will often allow only a minimum amount of luggage, and anything above this is charged at a pre-set excess baggage rate. Are there charges for a baby carriage/stroller, a bicycle or skis? What about children? At what age do you need to pay full fare for your kids? If you have a few children who all qualify for adult rate, then it’s possible that a larger commercial airline that offers greatly reduced children’s fares for your kids’ ages may actually work out cheaper. Another thing to check is if you are allowed to take your own refreshments on the plane with you – if so, then this is another place you can save money, especially on a longer flight. If not, then you need to budget for the expensive airline refreshments.
Unsociable times and out of season travel are two more ways of saving money on your air fares. If you are willing to travel in the middle of the night, or arrive at your destination in the early hours of the morning, you will find that you pay less than if you want to arrive during normal business day hours. In a similar way, midweek travelers will often pay less than weekend ones. Unless your vacation dates are fixed by your employer or the school system, plan your vacation out of the main season. Flights then are less popular and therefore cheaper. You may find you have a greater chance of getting a “free” seat to stretch out on, as well as saving money at your destination as accommodation and even local attractions often cut their prices in an attempt to seduce the off season tourist into visiting them.
Non-Direct Flights. Although direct flights will save you time and energy if your budget is more of a priority, then taking a non-direct flight with a connection from a gateway airport to your final destination could be another way of saving money. Larger airlines will operate cheaper fares to their gateway airport within the country you are going to, but flights direct to smaller cities will be more expensive because they are not as popular and the larger planes need to be able to cover their costs. Booking a double flight so that you have one return flight to your country of destination with a major airline, and then a return flight from there to your intended vacation spot using a local “no frills” type airline could make quite a saving – alternatively, if the distance between the two isn’t so great, consider hiring a car and seeing a little more of the country between the two locations.
Discounts. Some airlines offer air passes, or allow frequent flyer/air mile saver discounts, or even have partnerships offering savings with hotel chains – all of these need to be considered to see which of the options available to you offers the best deal for your air fare. There are savings to be found, it just take a little bit of effort so that you find the best deal available for your situation.