Most flights have as many as ten different price points. That means that one customer might pay $60 for the flight, another might pay $90 and still, another might pay $150. The flight is exactly the same. The only difference is that one passenger knew how to play the system, while the other didn’t. Flying cheaply on domestic flights is, fortunately, a lot easier than flying cheaply on international flights. Just follow these tips and you’ll save a ton of money on your next domestic flight.
Always Check the Airline’s Website Directly
Airline aggregators are fantastic tools for doing research. You can use them to figure out what airlines are flying where. However, once you figure out which airline is flying the route you’re looking to fly, make sure you check their website directly.
Sometimes the price on the direct airline’s website will be different than the aggregator. More importantly, however, the airline’s website will have special deals that involve your route. These are deals that won’t be displayed on the aggregator’s site.
For example, let’s say you’re looking to fly round trip from LAX to SFO. Typically you’d pay about $100 each way.
However, for this week a few flights on Southwest’s flight plans are looking particularly empty. So they created a few specials. If you fly Friday night and return Sunday, you get the flight round trip for $140. Other variations on the departure and arrival times give you round-trip tickets for $120 and $150.
These kinds of specials can end up saving you a ton of money. All you need to do is check the direct airline’s website rather than aggregators.
Check for AAA or AARP Discounts
Are you an AAA or AARP member? If so, make sure to check to see if you qualify for discounts. There are two ways to do this.
First, you call AAA or the AARP and ask them which airlines they have discount agreements with. Buy from those airlines.
Alternatively, you can call up the airlines and ask if they have a discount program for AAA or AARP members. Many do, they just don’t advertise it.
Check Nearby Airports
Don’t just check the major airports when you’re doing your search. For example, if you’re flying to Los Angeles, don’t just check LAX for flights. Check the other nearby smaller airports as well.
Sometimes smaller airports have a much harder time filling up their flight manifests. As a result, they’ll be willing to discount their tickets considerably. On top of that, vehicle rentals from fringe airports will also usually be cheaper than rentals from mainstream airports.
Try Calling Them
There are deals only available by phone, just as there are deals only available by internet. Try calling the airline you’re trying to book with and ask what specials they have on right now.
Make sure to ask them if they have a processing fee for placing an order by phone. If they charge a $30 phone booking fee, that alone might already negate the discount. However, every once in a while you’ll be able to pick up a sweetheart deal by just picking up the phone.
Monitor Last Minute Deals
Many of the best domestic deals you’ll find are last minute deals. Sign up for last minute deal notification websites, as well as to the newsletter of the airline itself.
Continuing with our LAX and SFO example, in this case, you’d want to sign for Southwest Airlines’ newsletter. Whenever they have discounted flights between those two destinations, they’ll let you know.
Join Frequent Flyer Programs
If you regularly fly with one airline, join their frequent flyer program. It’s a great way to get discounted tickets, free tickets or free upgrades. For instance, if you regularly fly between SFO and LAX with Southwest Airlines, you’ll want to join Southwest Airlines’ “Rapid Rewards” program.
Be careful about joining too many different programs. While you could probably keep track of two frequent flyer programs easily enough, once you get to three or four they become a hassle to manage. You’ll be getting emails, mail and even phone calls from each program. You’ll have to track your miles and your prizes on each. It becomes more hassle than it’s worth. Join just the programs that you’ll actually use on a regular basis.
Remember: Most air tickets have as many as ten different price points. Use these 5 secret tips to find a cheap flight ticket.