Many families are feeling the pocket-draining effects of air travel costs. Not only are the airfares increasing, but also what is included in the airfare is decreasing. Airfare discount information is essential for saving on your transportation costs. Families need to factor in separate charges such as baggage. Some airlines charge for bottled water, soft drinks, and snacks. However, with a little ingenuity and some insider tricks and tips, you’ll enjoy the benefits of left-over spending money.
Airfare Discount Information – Getting the Best Airfare Deals
Visit the airlines’ websites. These often have special deals, airfare discount information. This includes sales that can be found nowhere else. Most airline web sites allow you to sign up for email notification of deals that often have special promo codes that aren’t offered anywhere else.
If you are a Twitter user, follow airline tweets. Click on their links to sign up: Southwest, American, Delta, and particularly, JetBlue and United, which post low fares you may not see elsewhere.
Discount airlines are often a good choice when looking to cut back on airfare costs. Having little frills, these airlines believe in getting you there. If meals and extra niceties are not on your priority list, you may be better off with a discount airline such as JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Allegiant Air, and Westjet (Canada). There are others, and you are encouraged to explore all options before you choose. Some may offer more than others for very little difference in price. Note that small airlines sometimes have only one flight per day in many markets. They frequently will not reroute you on another airline if your flight is canceled or delayed.
Buy your ticket online. As with most businesses, airlines offer incentives that could save you money if the ticket is purchased online instead of at the counter. Most airlines except Southwest charge for booking airline tickets on the phone. Fees are typically $15 to $25.
If you don’t mind connecting flights, you may save on ticket prices. It isn’t the most convenient way to fly, but it may be worth it to you to save some money. The rule doesn’t always hold true, though, due to PFCs (passenger facility charges) at airports in some cities that can substantially increase fares on connecting flights. You’ll have to compare and see.
Take advantage of frequent flyer miles through airline programs or the use of Airline Credit Cards. If you fly a lot or use the credit card as your primary card, you could rack up enough points for a free ticket in no time. For those who sign up for an airline’s frequent flyer program or the airline newsletter, some airlines will generate a “one time only” promotional code that you can use to get a discount when you book.
If you are going to be renting a car, consider flying into an airport outside of Orlando rather than into Orlando International (MCO; about 20 miles). Sanford (SFB; about 40 miles) or Tampa (TPA; about 60 miles) are the closest to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Also, consider Melbourne (MAA; about 65 miles) and Daytona Beach (DAB; about 70 miles) International Airports. These may be options for Disney Cruise Line if the price is right. Check the difference in price against the cost of gas for the drive into your destination. You can calculate an estimated ground transportation cost from the Sanford airport to your destination. Ride share companies and Mears Taxis have fare calculators on their sites.
Reserve each airfare separately. If more than one person is flying, this tip may save you money. Airlines often only have a certain number of seats available at the best-advertised rate. This means that if there are only three seats left at the rate you want and you are a family of four, your bulk purchase of four tickets will all be charged at a higher rate. Airlines don’t sell split ticket rates from the same purchase. You could save a bundle by booking each one individually.
Ask about your ability to change or cancel your flight if you need to. Even if you get sick, you cannot assume you will get a refund. Most discount tickets now are non-refundable but can be applied toward the purchase of other tickets on the same carrier. You must usually pay an administrative charge and any difference between the fares for the old and new flights when you do this. Southwest airlines is one of the few that will allow you to make changes to your ticket after the purchase with no additional fees. Read the fine print of each airline’s airfare discount information before purchasing to determine if a future discount could be applied to your booking.
Airlines don’t guarantee their schedules, and you should plan for this when putting together your trip. If there’s a mechanical problem with the plane or circumstance other than the weather, you might be better off trying to arrange another flight for longer delays. It is sometimes easier to make such arrangements from a cell phone (pre-program the airline number in) than at a ticket counter.
If you find a flight on another airline, ask the first airline to endorse your ticket to the new carrier; this could save you a fare increase. If you are delayed, you can also ask the airline staff if they will pay for meals. Airlines charging very low fares often do not provide any amenities to stranded passengers. Others may not offer amenities if the delay is caused by bad weather or something else beyond the airline’s control. Contrary to popular belief, airlines are not required to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled. To learn more about your rights as a passenger, visit the Aviation Consumer Protections Flyers Rights page.
If you have frequent flyer miles, especially for several airlines, and would like to know which airline has seats open for FF mile bookings or upgrades, there is an effortless way to find out. ExpertFlyer has real-time seat maps on over 100 airlines and can give you this airfare discount information, including waitlist information, and send you alerts if something becomes available. It’s a paid service, but you can try it out for a free 5-day trial. With a free account, you can set up one Seat Alert at a time. Once you’ve booked your flight with any online service or with the airline, when your Seat Alert arrives, you can contact them to change your seat assignment to switch to the preferred seat.
When To Buy Tickets and When to Fly for Best Airline Discounts
Purchasing your ticket in the early part of the week may bring savings. Many sales are introduced during the first days of the week rather than the end of the week. Most airlines launch fare sales on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Since this is not foolproof, it might be worth watching the airlines for a couple of weeks to find the normal times for discounts and to recognize a fare that is below average when you see it.
If you are going to purchase tickets early, then optimize your savings by purchasing 2-8 weeks in advance. Airline ticket prices typically go up 21 days, 14 days, 7 days, and 3 days before departure dates. Therefore, try to beat these windows if possible.
Tickets sold more than 8 weeks in advance will be at the current rate and not at a special rate. If your flight is discounted after the purchase has been made, airlines generally don’t refund the difference. The only time this is not beneficial to you is if you are traveling during peak times, such as Spring Break, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, because fares often go up significantly during peak travel dates. Again, this is not foolproof. In recent years, some holiday fares dropped dramatically.
Flying midweek will get you cheaper fares. The cheapest days are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and believe it or not, Saturdays. If you’re flexible about the day you fly, you could save up to 50% on airfare costs. You can save even more if you are willing to fly the red-eye flights instead of during the day. Booking the earliest possible flight can sometimes save money.
Also, adjusting your dates of travel by just a day or two can save hundreds, especially if you’re buying for more than one person.
Book your vacation for August and September instead of traditional vacation months like June and July. Many airlines, as well as resort destinations, lower their rates during this time of year to encourage late season traveling. If you realize that the month will not change the location and attractions at your destination of choice, then planning a late-season vacation could save you hundreds of dollars.
Finally, when you find a good airline deal, buy it! Airfares change often, and that great price may not be there tomorrow or even a few hours later. You might also consider searching for fares throughout the day, several times a day. Airlines adjust the number of seats available at different fare levels, and seats at the lowest fares sell quickly. While the general airfare discount information stays the same, the deals can change quickly
Airfare Discount Information – Avoiding Baggage Charges
Many popular airlines now charge passengers for the first checked bag. Check-in luggage fees per person are typically $20 – $25 for the first bag and $30 – $45 for the second, paid each way upon check-in. Make sure to factor this in when comparing airfares. For example, if Southwest has a fare of $198 round-trip and US Airway has one for $158, and you are checking two bags. Southwest actually has the lowest fare because Southwest charges nothing for the first two checked bags. US Airway would charge you an additional $80 each way for two bags. Here are a few tips that can help in this situation.
- Consider flying airlines without baggage fees. JetBlue and Southwest may have a lower bottom line even if there’s a cheaper fare on another airline because of luggage fee factors.
- Pack clothing that can be mixed and matched to make an entire wardrobe from a few simple pieces.
- Visit the resort laundry facility while at your destination. By doing laundry during your vacation, you can save on luggage fees. Combine a day by the resort pool with a laundry day. The laundry facilities at most resorts are located close to the pool. If you are doing laundry, you can pack detergent pods to save on purchasing it there.
- Put your bulkiest items in those special vacuum bags to reduce their size and roll your clothes when packing. They take up less room and wrinkle less as well. Most hotels will lend you a vacuum with a hose to repack for your trip home.
- Ship dry goods and toiletries to your destination ahead of schedule. Disney hotels will accept packages. You may consider shipping toiletries, feminine hygiene products, sunblock, baby wipes, diapers, food goods, or other lightweight necessary items that are odd-shaped and difficult to pack. Use this list of resort phone numbers to call for specific resort shipping information.
- Take only those items that you will truly have to use. Disney resorts supply hairdryers and small soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. If going for seven days, don’t pack for nine.
- If you will have a rental car, consider purchasing items at your destination. Consider buying baby formula and diapers at a local store.
- Backpacks aren’t just for kids. Since a regular size backpack counts as a “personal” item, fill it with extra items and pack your empty purse.
- Choose the lightest weight luggage you can find. Most airlines have a weight limit of 50 pounds on each bag. The lighter the luggage, the more you can pack. Just remember that airlines also have restrictions on luggage size. Visit the airline’s website to find size requirements. Measure each side of your packed bag. We suggest investing in an inexpensive luggage scale with a tape measure. We found a luggage scale on Amazon.com for a good price.
- Most Disney merchandise shops will ship within the U.S. Purchase all your souvenirs from one location. We recommend the World of Disney Store at Downtown Disney, and ask about the cost of shipping items home. It may be cheaper than some airline’s overweight charges or the fee for an extra checked bag. Overweight charges can sometimes be expensive, ranging from $50 on most airlines to $100 (Delta and American), and depending on space available and capacity, some airlines can refuse to accept them altogether.
Other Additional Airline Charges
Baggage fees aren’t the only charges airlines have initiated or increased recently. Some airlines are charging for preferred seats located in aisles, next to windows, or that offer extra legroom. Other airlines have begun charging members of their frequent flyer (FF) clubs a fee to book their free tickets online. Fees have been added for watching TV, shortened security lines, and boarding early. On some flights non-alcoholic beverages and snacks now sometimes come with a charge.
Finding the cheapest fares and airfare discount information for a family can be tricky. As much as you may hate paying a fee for checking your first bag, the airline charging the fee may still offer the best overall price. Free onboard amenities like free seat-assignment, snacks, meals, beverages, and entertainment may make paying a few extra dollars for baggage worth it. Before booking your flight, take a few minutes to total up the actual cost of flying and search for airfare discount information for that specific airline.
Here are some popular Airlines flying into Orlando International Airport:
- Jet Blue
- US Airways
Most airlines now have cashless cabins. A credit card or debit card is needed to purchase drinks and snacks. For those who do not have a credit or debit card, some airlines will allow you to buy in-flight coupons or vouchers. Check with your airline representative at the ticket counter or gate, so you know how to pay for a drink or snack. Before you get on the plane, be sure to purchase the vouchers if needed.
More and more, airlines are holding specific seats such as aisle and window seats for those willing to pay extra. If you are a family who would like to sit together, it would be wise to purchase your seats at least two months in advance. Also, pay extra for adjoining seats if need be. Southwest Airlines has open seating. Any family who checks in right at the 24 hour advance time should be in an early enough boarding group to get seats together. If you would prefer to pay to guarantee your seating, Southwest’s priority boarding fee is one of the lowest in the industry.
Last, consider bringing an empty water bottle through security and filling it before boarding. Bring along your own snacks if your airline charges. These steps will save you if you fly on an airline that charges for water and snacks.
Airfare Discount Information & Tips From TheMouseForLess Readers
- Southwest has no cancel fee, baggage fee, or change your flight fee. They also give you a complimentary beverage. You can also purchase gift cards at grocery stores and Walgreens. After you fly about 12 round trips, you get complimentary alcohol drink coupons.
- Jet blue has nice wide seats. They also have TVs on the back of all the seats.
- I bought my kids Earplanes from Walgreens for our flight, but they are available at most drugstores. They reduce pressure changes during flights that kids often complain about and worked great for us.
- Southwest sells early boarding. With EarlyBird Check-in, you’ll receive a better boarding position. Since you’re boarding earlier, there will be more open seats and overhead bin space from which to choose.
- Airfare Discount Information is always changing. Sometimes being loyal to a particular airline will provide better discounts if you fly enough.