Welcome to the second in this series of money tips related to travel. Today I give some general tips on saving money when flying. I actually hate flying as a method of transport, yet I use dozens of flights a year as quite simply it’s the fastest way to get somewhere.
1. Don’t fly anything but economy class!! It almost goes without saying but why spend any extra money on business class or first class??? It’s not as if you’re staying in a hotel and get access to a swimming pool. All you’re going to do on a flight is read, watch TV, listen to music, eat and sleep! I have flown Business Class only twice in my life – once a family let me take their spot as the Dad wanted to be with the wife and child (this was with Air Canada in 2007) and the other time was on a flight to Brazil (in 2011) when there were no other seats left. Honestly, what’s the point in paying all that extra money for a poncy extra bit of legroom and a few whiskies?? Are you mad?? (PS – if you’re rich I can understand it, but this report is about money saving tips!!)
2. Book flights early. Again if you know the exact dates you are flying or intend to fly, DON’T HESITATE to book them. Despite what you hear, flights ALWAYS go up in price. I have learned the hard way by checking flights, not booking them and then going back to book a week later to find they have risen horrendously. There is also meant to be a time when flight prices go DOWN closer to the day of the flight, but I have yet to personally witness this being true.
3. For weekend trips, NEVER check in a luggage bag. Take hand luggage only. You can always fit what you need for a 3-4 day trip in your hand luggage. Yes, really you can. A lot of airlines charge for baggage these days so don’t feed them more of your hard earned cash.
4. NEVER exceed your baggage allowance. These can be costly and when you’re tired and get to the counter and your bag is overweight you will end up paying an excess baggage allowance. If your bags are really that heavy and you are travelling with others, maximise everyone’s use of luggage. One of your mates might be 5kg under and you’re 5kg over. Wouldn’t it be much better to buy your friend a drink to put it in his, than pay a commercial airline company yet more money? Wear extra clothes, fill your hand luggage and as easy as it sounds – throw a book in the bin!! If it costs $2 to buy a book and that book costs you $25 in excess baggage it’s a no brainer…
5. For Long Haul Budget Aurlines like AirAsia/Jetstar etc. – Take on your own food and drink (sandwiches, rolls, buts, crisps, chocolate, cake etc.). I’ve even taken beer onto a flight with Air Asia, bought it in the airport shop before boarding. Little money savers believe me as when you are sitting in 19F and the trolley comes along selling $4 crisps and you’re hungry, you might end up buying them. Buy them in local shops first and take them on, or at worst the airport shop (ALSO mostly to be avoided).
6. Fly on a Tuesday! Tuesday is officially the cheapest day to fly. The reason being most trips and airline companies fill their planes on Friday nights, Saturday mornings and Sunday nights due to work commitments. Despite what you think, Monday to Friday jobs are still the most popular the world over, therefore it’s obvious that these flights will be busier and therefore more expensive. So if you have no set travel plans (i.e. are travelling around) make sure you book the Tuesday and Wednesday flights!
7. Don’t buy stuff on board the flight but take advantage of the free stuff. Ask for water any time – it’s always free. As mentioned before bring drinks on board with you if you really need to. I had a flight to Vietnam recently. I love a beer when I travel but on board the flight I resisted to save for a few beers in Hanoi. I later found out that the price of 5 beers in a downtown restaurant in Hanoi would have been the same price as one on the flight (about $2 US)!!
8. Don’t pay extra for a seat! Another ridiculous add on of many airlines is the “Select your seat” option. Don’t do that! Why would you pay extra for it?! And besides if you turn up quite late for your flight,there is a slim chance that you might be squeezed into a better seat (e.g. Business Class) due to overbookings, transfers from other flights. Because you have no designated seat but a guaranteed one, they may kindly ask you to sit in the posh bit…
9. SOMETIMES it’s cheaper to buy a return than a single flight (saves money and you don’t need to take the second flight). I’ve only done this twice, but always double check flight prices on a number of websites first, and try pricing a return to see if it works out cheaper. It sometimes surprisingly does!
10. Take the stopovers! If it works out cheaper to do a stopover, then do it! You’ll get the bonus of another city for the night (I know, I know you’ll spend money there but you only live once and you might never get the chance to spend a night in that city again! My stopovers have included Manila and Doha so far and I have spent a night in each city, saving money on flights – I’d argue I got a night in a new city for the same price as I would have paid for a direct flight)
Right seriously these are only a few small tips, and they might seem obvious but so many neglect them. Thanks for reading! I will bring a lot more money savings tips in the upcoming months!