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7 Ways To Book A Dirt Cheap Flight

Everybody loves a good deal, especially if your bargain find drops you off in a tropical location or new city to explore. For travelers on a budget, paying for high-priced flights isn't always an option. Frequent flyers do have a couple of tricks up their sleeve that help them score those affordable flights. By using these 7 hacks you'll be able to score a dirt-cheap flight and be back up in the air again in no time!


Indianapolis International Airport
The cheaper the flight, the more you can book...

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1. Fly Carry-On Only

If you've ever booked with a budget airline I'm sure you know how quickly you can get trapped by additional fees. Rarely will luggage be included in your ticket price so if you plan on booking on a budget flight, the key is flying carry-on only. Read your airline's baggage instructions carefully and be aware of what you can and can't bring onboard for the price of your ticket.


Some airlines charge for a carry-on but allow a free personal item. Consider investing in a good travel backpack with lots of storage and pocket space to use as your personal item. My current favorite bags to travel with are the Nordace Sienna II Smart Backpack and the Glass Ladder and Co. Michelle Totebag.



My best feature of the Sienna II Smart backpack in my opinion is the laptop sleeve on the OUTSIDE of the backpack. I don't know how many times I've had trouble pulling out my laptop from my overly stuffed bag at TSA.


Whereas I love how the Michelle Totebag gives more of a chic purse look. The tote boasts an internal laptop sleeve and two cup holders with a machine-washable interior.


Both bags have external luggage sleeves to be easily thrown on top of a suitcase when traveling with more weight.


Make sure if you’re using a bag as your personal item to have all your smaller items (ie. purse, wallet) inside of it when passing through the gate. If a carry-on is not included in your ticket price and you have two bags you could be charged additionally.


For more advice on what to pack in your carry-on click here.


2. Sign Up For Budget Fly Programs 

Some airlines offer saver programs for frequent fliers. For those that travel often the annual or monthly fees save quite a bit of money in the long run.


  • Spirit’s Saver$ Club is a membership that includes discounted flights in three options; 12 months ($69.95), 18 months ($99.90), or 24 months ($124.90). In addition to discounted flights for you and up to 8 guests, the Saver$ club also offers discounts on checked and carry-on bags and seat upgrades. 


  • Fronteir’s Discount Den offers budgeted flights with an annual fee of $59.99. An additional $40 enrollment fee is charged upon sign-up. Key perks include kids under 15 flying for free on specified flights with an adult Discount Den member. The rates can also be shared with up to 9 people if they are booked under the same reservation making this a good option for families or groups that travel together often. 


  • Frontier’s GoWild! Pass is an “all-you-can-fly” program. After paying the enrollment fee you can choose to sign up for a monthly pass ($149/month) seasonal pass (prices vary) or annual pass ($599/year). During your time frame, you can book as many flights as you like and pay only the taxes.


  • Southwest also tends to have lower base flight options. Booking Wanna Get Away, the base fare option, is the cheapest tier. The option still offers the freedom to change your flight up to 10 minutes before scheduled departure. These are often non-refundable flights so always read the fine print before committing, 


3. Set Up Google Flight Notifications

Do your friends seem to just find the cheapest flights but for some reason you pay double the price? Sometimes booking a cheap flight is just dependent on securing it at the right time when the price drops.


Google Flights is a free service that tracks the prices of specified destinations and flight routes. When your route has a significant price drop you'll receive an email notifying you of the price change. If no drop occurs, you'll still receive an email specifying the best available prices at the end of the month.


4. Use Airline Credit Cards

If you're already using a credit card to fill up your gas tank and pay your bills you might as well put it to work. There are so many good travel credit card options that vary greatly in benefits, features, and fees. Airline credit cards often include, but are not limited to, free checked bags, companion passes, use of the airport lounges, priority boarding, additional miles, and much more. 


Most offer sign-up bonuses upon approval as well. Use caution when applying for credit cards and make your payments on time to avoid damage to your credit score in the long run.


5. Fly Into Neighboring Airports

The plain truth is some airports are just more expensive to land in than others. In major cities, it is not uncommon to have multiple major airlines. In most instances transporting between them is very affordable and quick. 


Research ticket prices of all surrounding airports and if the price is greatly discounted consider taking a train, bus, etc. to your final destination or the following leg. 


One great example of this is the SFRTA tri-rail in Southern Florida. The train connects Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale Airport, and Palm Beach International Airport all for less than a 10-dollar fare one-way.


6. Be Flexible

Being flexible with what days you leave and arrive can save hundreds. Almost all airlines offer a simple comparison feature on their website with rates on different days.


If you don't want to do the research personally, there are many third-party search engines as well that quickly cross-reference flight prices such as booking.com and kayak.com. I prefer booking directly when possible.

espresso martini and laptop
I use long layovers as a time to wander, read a book, or work on this blog!

Keep in mind that flights will always be more expensive during holidays and vacation weekends. If you have to travel during a high-trafficked period consider flying during lower-trafficked time frames like late at night, or early in the morning. 


Flights with longer layovers or multiple legs are often more affordable than direct flights.


7. Know When To Book

To score the best deals you want to avoid the rush of people booking your same flight. The highest fares for domestic travel will typically be 3-6 months before the trip. International flights are a bit further out and usually peak in price 5-9 months in advance. Booking before or after these windows can help you score a more affordable flight but be cautious about booking too close to your flight as prices can spike again.


It is a common misconception that one day of the week is more affordable to fly than others. It all depends on which days an airline's busier routes land on. Although holidays and weekends do tend to be pricier as more people travel during these time frames.


 

Flying isn't always the cheapest mode of travel but with these 7 tricks up your sleeve, you'll be able to save substantially on your next flight. Booked the ticket and are nervous about your next step? Make sure to read Flying For Beginners: A Complete Guide for everything you need to know from arriving at the airport to picking up your bags at your destination.


If you found this article helpful subscribe below to receive free budget travel advice monthly to your inbox! As a frequent flyer myself, I love to share all the budget hacks and travel advice I've learned along the way.


Manifesting you find the cheapest flight to your dream destination.

Sending love from Indiana,


Kait



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