28 Oct 10 Pro Travel Hacks To Save On Domestic Flights
There are about 30,000 flights soaring high up in the US skies every day. That’s a heck of a lot of airplanes and even more passengers. You’d be surprised to know that people sitting next to each other on a plane have each paid a different price for their flights. Want to be the one with the best deal? Then we have something for you! Being flexible, considering nearby airports, and buying your flights well in advance gets you only this far. Check out these 10 flight hacks to save even more when flying domestic in the USA.
#1 Search for “Hacker fare”
When you’re in need of a round-trip flight ticket then try to search for two one-way tickets on different airlines instead. Your search results page will get longer AND better because you’ll be able to book combinations you otherwise couldn’t, aka competing airlines.
You see, airlines can only sell round-trip tickets using their own or partner airline’s flights. That means that most of the competing airlines with whom they do not have an agreement are not going to show up in your search, even though their return flight that day might be a lot cheaper.
#2 Check out Southwest.com
Especially if you’re planning a shopping trip, as Southwest gives you two (yes, 2!) bags to check in FOR FREE! No extra fees for checked baggage, laptop bags, using the toilet or breathing while in the airliner. And the best part, though it does depend on how you look at it, is that Southwest does not come up on meta-search engines. Simply because they don’t want to.
Combine this tip with tip #1 for best results. Also, check out their ‘Companion Pass‘ which entitles a companion of your choice to fly with you for free.
#3 Take advantage of free cancellation if price drops
You can generally cancel any purchase from an airline or major online travel agency (OTA) in the US within 24 hours of making it. You would think that people know it, but actually, most consumers are unaware of this. The trick is to check flight ticket prices again before the 24h deadline passes and rebook if you get lucky and the price has dropped.
Southwest takes it even further — you can get a credit for the fare difference up to the day of departure!
#4 Sign up for newsletters
If you’re willing and able to make your travel decisions fast then airline and online travel agency newsletters are something that is worth signing up for. Yes, most of the time you’ll get the usual marketing talk, but more often than not, there might be something better in them.
For example, flash sales. The booking window on those is usually quite short — from a few days to a week, but the savings you’ll get for acting fast might be very good. It might also happen that the campaign applies when you bundle up flights with a hotel or a rental car. So, therefore, it’s not all spam.
#5 Pro tip: hidden city ticketing
If you’re new to airline lingo then this might sound mysterious to you. But hidden city ticketing is something that’s real and used quite often. The trick here is pretty simple.
Let’s say that you have to get from New York City to Atlanta. You search for flights and the outlook isn’t nice. But if you search for flights to Miami, going through Atlanta, then the picture just might be a lot more colorful. You book your flights from NYC to Miami, but basically just walk out of the airport in Atlanta, because you don’t need to fly to Miami. Though, bear in mind that this must only be done with carry-on luggage. You also shouldn’t do it too often with the same airline, as they don’t like it and could potentially close your frequent flyer account.
#6 Book one passenger at a time
Let’s say, you’re planning a getaway with your friends or a family holiday and there’s six of you in the group. As you’re searching for flights, you obviously put in the total number of people in the group. That’s all great but hold there for a second. Write the total down and calculate the per person cost you’ll get when you’d buy those six tickets right there and then.
Now go back to the beginning and start looking for flights for one, two, three, etc number of people. Every time, check what the price per person is. Chances are that by buying your tickets in groups of 3-3 or 2-4, you’ll save on your total cost.
The whole trick behind this is that not every single seat on an airplane is priced the same, but booking engines can’t combine different priced tickets into one booking and therefore give you the fare category where there is the most availability. It just might be that two seats on that plane cost just $150 and all of the others $300. That’s $300 more to spend on cocktails!
#7 Upgrade to cheap First Class
If you’re flying on any major US carrier and really need to have more than one piece of checked luggage then it might be a good idea to look into First Class fares. In some cases, they might be a lot more reasonable and cost-efficient than paying a lot of money for checking in your luggage and still sitting in coach. Check out this example with American Airlines.
#8 Book your last-minute flights with miles
The airline business doesn’t operate like many others do. They don’t believe in last-minute discounts. But sometimes, life gets in our way and we have to buy tickets a few days, or maybe only hours before departure. Then, it makes sense to check out what you can get for your miles.
You might end up paying way less with your miles for a last-minute trip than in real cash. And that’s just one reason why you should be collecting those frequent flyer miles, by the way 🙂
#9 Check for student/youth discounts
If you are a qualifying student or a young adult under 26 years of age then search for various student agencies. They specialize on international flights but sometimes have discounts even for domestic flights!
#10 Hire a professional travel hacker
If you don’t have the time nor the interest in implementing all these tricks yourself then hire a travel hacker. Flystein’s travel experts will apply every trick in their book to get you the best flights out there. And believe us when we say that their books are thick! There is so much more to travel hacking than just splitting flights into two tickets and using miles.
The airline industry is a complex maze of rules and what not, that it’s almost impossible for an average traveler to comprehend. That’s why we have Flystein — a group of people who love going through 77 million different combinations to find the best one for YOU.