Although we shell out a significant amount of money each month into our travel fund, I am so averse to spending it on transportation. I want to spend it on experiences and food and excitement, so much so that the chunk that goes to whatever airline conglomerate just makes me angry. I already don't like to fly, I already fly with someone that is convinced his legs are too long for any airplane seat, and I already am an inner-cheapskate, so I fully admit that I don't like spending money on flights.
Problem- to get somewhere to spend money on experiences, food, and excitement, you generally have to pay for transportation. Until that one problem can be solved, I have a list of little tricks
Disclaimer- I'm sure that if I say we spent 14 cents on our upcoming flights to Thailand that someone can say they found them for 12. I'm sure of this and I applaud you. If that is you, you probably don't want to read this. If you are a person that wants to be on decent flights and wouldn't mind saving a bit of money then I hope this helps a bit.
1) Time of Day
I would much, much, much rather pop on a 16 hour flight late at night because then I can pretty much guarantee that I will sleep. We had a midnight flight to Chile last year and another late cross country trip recently and it just makes the whole thing so much more smoothly for me than having to take more time off work or waking up at 4am to go to the airport. Seeing as how I'm going to be stuck in a metal tube for X hours, I would rather be asleep than 90% of other things. Red eye flights are generally cheaper than other ones and I also love the fact that I'm fully using my vacation days. For this trip to Thailand I'm going to work a full day, come home, change, probably repack my bag, and then head to the airport. That gives me one full day of work that I can tack on at the end of the trip if needed instead of having a 1pm flight out and skipping work that day.
2) Book Everything Separately
This one saved us literally over a thousand dollars this trip. We knew that we needed a few different flights.
1) flight from USA to Thailand
2) flight from city 2 (overnight train gets us from city 1 to 2) to city 3
3)City 3 back to city 1 for our return flight home
Confusing?!? Yeah. I first was trying to book this as one big trip and I was shocked by the prices. I split it up into a 1 international trip and then separate domestic flights inside Thailand and got a much better deal PLUS better flight times. The best tool for this was Google Flights. I had about 3 tabs open and was price comparing like it was my job. Yes, it did take about an extra half hour or so of planning time, but a thousand bucks is a lot to save in a half hour! We will have to make sure that we are checked in to each of our separate flights, but I'll take a little bit of housekeeping in order to save that much moolah.
These aren't our flights, or our travel dates, or how much money we shelled out for flights (we actually paid less because we booked further in advance), but here is an example of how it works:
Option 1 is one ticket that covers USA to Bangkok, Chiang Mai to Phuket, Phuket to Bangkok, and Bangkok to USA would cost $1596 (if you go with the cheapest option)
Option 2 is booking each flight separately. You have a $825 flight to Bangkok, a $68 flight from Chaing Mai to Phuket, and a $62 flight from Phuket to Bangkok. In total you will spend $945 a person, which saves you $651 a person OR $1302 overall!
Now the one thing to bear and mind and do you research with option 2 is each airline's booking fees. Once you poke around a bit you will see if it is worth it to book 2 one way flights or 1 round trip flight, but that isn't rocket science.
3) Actually Think About What You Pack
This was a big money saver when we were flying to Chile as well as on some of our Thailand domestic flights. You definitely need to check each airline's policy on carry ons verse checked bags. This trip we are going to be on the go a lot and really aren't bringing a ton of luggage. In fact we each are bringing a backpack and that is it. For most of the flights that means we will check one bag and then carry on the other smaller backpack. It saves a chunk of cash, but it also is just less to worry about. I don't really want to be toting a ton of stuff around anyways, so it is motivation to pack light.
None of these are life changing, but none of these are very difficult either. On domestic flights we try to stick to our favorite carriers and earn points there, but flying internationally is a different ballgame.
Any money saving tips you have for flying?