How to Save Money When You Fly

Cut your fees and time the flight right to snag the best deals in the air this summer.

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Summer travel season is in full swing. The high price of airfare may have you thinking twice about flying to your destination. However, there are many great ways to save money when you fly. Here are some must-follow tips to help you save a bundle on airfare.

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Fly Midweek

Avoid flying on Fridays and Sundays, as these tend to be the busiest travel days. You can often save money by flying midweek so if possible, schedule your flight on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

Spend Time Doing Your Research

It may be a hassle to check out a bunch of different travel sites, but the huge savings they offer is well worth your effort. So take a little extra time and check out sites like Travelocity and Yahoo! Travel to make sure you get the best deals on your airfare. (See also: 40 Travel Websites That Can Save You a Fortune.)

Avoid Baggage Fees

One of the simplest ways to save money when you fly is avoiding baggage fees. There are currently only two airlines that don’t charge for checked bags: JetBlue and Southwest. So, when possible, pack all your necessities in a carry on instead of checking a bag. If you can’t fit all your lotions, toothpaste, or other liquids in the TSA mandated quart sized bag, take advantage of the concierge at the hotel as they will often give you all the toiletries you need for free.

Buy Your Tickets Early

It is always a good idea to try and buy your tickets a few weeks before you plan on flying because the closer it gets to your travel date, the more expensive tickets will become. The reason for this is that as the flight date gets closer, the more in demand tickets become.

Pack Your Own Food

Don’t get charged an arm and a leg for food once you get to the airport or get on the plane. Pack yourself a sandwich or some snacks in your carry on to get you through until you reach your destination. Just make sure whatever you pack is solid, not liquid, otherwise it will get confiscated at security. For more information about the rules regarding taking food through security, check out TSA’s website.

Be Flexible with Your Dates and Locations

If possible, be flexible with your travel dates as well as your arrival and departure airports. Many of the major travel websites allow you to find the best deals based on dates by doing a flexible search. Also, find out what airports are in the region you are flying to and see which one is cheapest to fly in to.

Bring an Empty Water Bottle

It is the worst when you are waiting for your flight, you get thirsty, and have to pay $3 for a bottle of water. Save yourself some money and take an empty water bottle with you through security. Then, fill it up at a drinking fountain once you get past security.

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Travel in a Group

You can often get better rates on airfare by booking your flight with a group. So, if you know of a few people headed to the same destination as you, get together and try to get a group rate. You may already belong to a group that offers travel discounts. Review the membership information of your alumni association, the AAA, warehouse stores, travel credit cards, and any professional organizations you belong to.

Buy Your Tickets Online

Many of the major airlines will make it cheaper for you to purchase tickets through their website than purchasing over the phone because it costs more for them to pay someone to book your ticket.

Get Bumped

If your flight is overbooked, you aren’t in a rush to get to your destination and the airline starts looking for people to get bumped to a later flight, do it. Airlines will give you a voucher for another flight if you volunteer yourself to get bumped. Sometimes these vouchers can be worth hundreds of dollars, so they are well worth waiting around for a few extra hours to take a later flight.

Ashley Jacobs is a frugal columnist for personal finance blog Wise Bread. Follow her latest tweets on @CollegeCents.