For many families, your airline tickets can be one of the most expensive components of your vacation. Since there aren’t any discounts for kids, and you’ll need a ticket for every member of your party (unless you have an infant), you’ll probably be looking for various ways to get flight deals for your family vacation.
While they are frequent deals and promotions that are offered by the different airlines, it can be difficult for families to take advantage of these. If you’ve got kids in school, you may be fairly limited in when you can travel. Despite that, there are still things that you can do to get flight deals. Here are our top tips for getting flight deals.
Disclosure: We received a complimentary trip on JetBlue Vacations, but have also purchased three at our own cost. All opinions are my own.
Tips for Getting Flight Deals For Your Family Vacation
Subscribe To Emails
When airlines have specials to specific destinations, you’ll often find out about them through newsletters and social media posts. While it’s not a guarantee that those deals will work out for your preferred destinations and vacation dates, it’s still a good idea to look at them. There’s always a chance that the offers will coincide with something you are considering.
Be Flexible With Dates
I know what it’s like when you are trying to plan a family vacation around a school vacation. Airline rates often spike up right around the travel dates of school vacation. It can be so frustrating when you see reasonable prices until the date you want to leave.
If you can be at all flexible with your travel dates, you may find that it’s a great way to get a flight deal. When I’m working around a school vacation week, I often try to see if I can fly Monday-Friday, rather than Saturday to Saturday. Sometimes a small change within a day or two can result in some major savings.
Be Flexible With Airports
Another option is to look at various airports, both at your destination, and at your home. Driving a few hours may be a great way to save money. For instance, here in New England, Massachusetts and New Hampshire sometimes have different vacation weeks. In that case, driving a few hours to the neighboring state may be a great way to save money.
Be sure that you are thoughtful with the types of flights you book, however. On a recent trip to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, I had the option of a cheaper flight that connected in Toronto from Boston. I didn’t think it was worth the risk of flight delays in Toronto for the less expensive flight. In that case, I thought it was a better option to pay a bit more for the direct flight. Sometimes the cheapest flight isn’t necessarily the best option.
Know What You Buying
These days, with “basic economy” seats and airlines like Spirit, it can be more difficult to actually compare prices. When you start looking at prices, it’s important that you know exactly what you are getting for the price shown.
‘Although you may not exactly know how much you are planning on packing for your trip, take your best guess. If you think you may be using the overhead compartments, or checking a bag, look at the price of your flight including those things that may be extra. In some cases, you may also have to pay extra to get premium seats, just so you’ll be able to get seats together.
Don’t Forget About Southwest
Booking Southwest Airlines? Although they do offer two free bags, you may consider paying for Early Bird, so you can get an earlier number in the Southwest boarding process. That’s the best way to ensure that your family can sit together on the plane.
Speaking of Southwest, don’t forget to check their website separately from any other search that you are going. Their flights don’t show up in the different aggregator sites, so it’s easy to forget that you may be able to get a better deal flying them. You’ll need to manually check, because any of the websites that send automatic price notifications won’t include Southwest.
Constantly Check Flight Prices
Once I have a destination in mind, I constantly check prices. I usually find a flight that I want, and then look at prices to see what is my best option. There have been a few times where the airlines add a flight that ends up lowering prices overall.
Many experts claim that it’s best to purchase flights on Tuesdays. That’s not a guarantee, so you’ll probably want to check on other days as well. But do remember that you should definitely do a search on Tuesdays.
Use the Right Tools
Does this constant checking sound time consuming? Luckily, there are some tools that you can use to make things easier and save time. Google.com/flights lets you compare prices among various airlines (excluding Southwest). It will also give you a prediction on whether or not the flight price is likely to increase or decrease. This prediction isn’t a guarantee, but it’s at least a starting point.
Google Flights also lets you look at prices for nearby airports and other dates. If your travel plans are at all flexible, you may find a cheaper option by moving things around by a day or two.
I also like using the app Hopper. It doesn’t include every airline, but it does do a great job of monitoring prices. You’ll get app alerts when the price for your watched flight changes. Hopper also provides a prediction of whether or not the price will increase.
Once you’ve booked, you can set up an account with Yapta.com. Enter your purchased flight information and they will let you know if you are eligible for a refund at any point if the price changes. (Note that not every airlines offers these credits).
Use Points and Frequent Flyer Miles
If you are a frequent traveler, definitely take advantage of the various points and frequent flyer miles that are offered. You may find a travel rewards credit card is a good option for you – so definitely do your research on the fees, membership fees and interest rates they change to make sure it’s worth the points you’ll get.
Any time you fly on an airline, it’s worth setting up a free frequent flyer account for every member of your family. There’s no risk in doing so, and those miles can add up if you fly frequently.
Consider Package Deals
We’ve received some great deals by booking vacation packages with the airlines. I’ve booked trips through Southwest Vacations and Jetblue Vacations. These trips typically contain airfare and your choice of hotel (from the list provided), and offer major price savings. Other things, like rental cars, may also be included in your package. As always, I definitely recommend looking at all prices so you can feel confident that you are getting a flight deal.
What tips have you used to get flight deals?