When you are planning your trip, and you find that the flight price you would like to take is prohibitively expensive, here are some ideas on how to save money while keeping you travel plans in order.
1. You can use airline miles or credit card rewards.
To save money on a flight that is expensive, you can use the points from your credit cards or your airline miles.
Let’s imagine you are planning a skiing trip in the Swiss Alps. You want to fly from Houston-Intercontinental to Zurich one way in business class, leaving on Jan. 18, 2024, with no more than one layover.
When searching on Google Flights for the lowest flight price within these parameters, the ticket costing $3,086 is on United Airlines.
If that is out of your price range, you may still be able to find a solution. By going to United’s website and searching for award tickets, you can find one-way business class flights from Houston-Intercontinental to Zurich, on the same dates and with one layover, for only 80,000 miles and $5 in fees.
Point.me is one of our favorites for searching for flights with points and mileage. This website lets you sync up your rewards and shows you the best options to use them. You can get a $5 daily pass for $12 per month. This is useful if you only want to book one flight.
2. You can change your dates of travel by a couple days
Even a small amount of flexibility in your dates will save you money.
Google Flights’ date grid is the best tool to find lower priced airfares based on specific dates. We looked at nonstop round-trip flights from Los Angeles to London (LHR), in economy class, from July 22, 2023 through July 27, 2020.
The lowest round-trip fare is $2,647 with those dates.
When searching for flights on Google Flights and you are flexible with dates, click the “Date Grid” button to check if there are cheaper options around those dates. The date grid of the flight is shown below:
The price of a nonstop round trip ticket between Los Angeles and London falls to $1153 by moving your outbound flight one day earlier. Instead, you will depart on Friday, July 21 instead of Saturday July 22, saving $1494.
The more flexible you can be with your dates, the greater the savings. You can see that the most costly flight is $2,727, and the least is $1118. This means you could potentially save $1,609 if you are flexible about dates.
3. Fly in or out from a nearby airport
Flying into or out of an airport nearby can result in significant savings, similar to the flexibility you can achieve with your dates.
Say, for example, you are planning to travel from Miami, Florida, to Washington, D.C., and that your dates of travel will be from August 10 until Aug. 13 2023. Also, you want to fly nonstop.
Google Flights shows a round-trip nonstop United flight from Washington to Dulles at $557. On the Google Flights search results page, you’ll see a notice that says it is possible to fly from Baltimore to Washington for just $145 round-trip — saving $412!
Flying into Baltimore can save money. However, the trip by train from Baltimore to D.C. is quicker than from Washington Dulles.
If the price of your flight is prohibitive, you should search nearby airports to see if you can find a cheaper one.
4. Take the train or bus.
Consider taking the train or bus instead of a flight if it is a more affordable option.
Europe is a great place to get a bargain by using the train or bus. Say you have to travel from London to Paris by July 22nd, 2023 and your dates are not flexible. You’ll find that the cost of a plane ticket for one way is at least $238 when you search for flights.
You could save up to $70 by choosing the train. You’ll also save time because you can leave and arrive right in the heart of the city.
Even though the options for train or bus travel in the U.S. are more limited, they’re still worth considering if plane tickets cost too much. You could, for example, take the train or bus to New York from Philadelphia instead of flying.
What do you do if your airfare is too high?
Imagine that the price of the flight is prohibitive. You can save money by using your points and miles to book a flight, being flexible with your travel dates, or flying from or to a nearby airport.
These options will allow you to save a lot of money on your trip.
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