July 31st, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
If you are going to be studying overseas for the new school year, you are probably getting ready for your upcoming transcontinental flight. With many new airline regulations and low budget carriers, you may find that you are coming out of pocket on additional perks that you never considered you had to pay. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 ways to save money when flying internationally.
- Shop around. The price of similar flights can vary dramatically between airlines; make sure that you research the prices on as many carriers as possible before purchasing your tickets. You can do this by searching each airline’s website individually, or by utilizing travel sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, or Kayak. You can also shop around at different airports; the airport closest to your house might not offer the lowest airfare prices, and the difference in price may more than make up for the cost of any additional transportation you need to get to a slightly further airport.
- Know when to buy. Timing is everything when it comes to purchasing airline tickets. Airline rates change daily—sometimes hourly—and it can be hard to know when you should buy. Luckily for you, there are trends in airline prices that you can take advantage of. Generally speaking, fares are highest from eight to ten weeks and two to three weeks in advance. Try to purchase your tickets around four to six weeks before you plan to travel. You should also try to avoid shopping for tickets on the weekends; airlines generally announce sales in the middle of the week, so keep an eye out for good deals on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
- Know when to fly. The time of year, day of the week, and the time of day all affect the cost of your airline ticket. Flying at the perfect time can actually save you hundreds of dollars. Many destinations have a high season, with elevated visitation and expensive airfare, and a low season, with more moderate visitation and cheaper airfare. Most experts advise travelers to try to book flights for the time period between the two seasons—the shoulder season—when the weather is still nice and the price of tickets has begun to come down. However, as an international student, you don’t have the luxury of a lot of leeway when it comes to the time of your travels; you’re pretty much dictated by the timing of your program. You can, however, choose which day and what time you want to fly out. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are generally the cheapest days of the week to fly, and you might consider purchasing a ticket for a red-eye flight. These flights take off and land in the early hours of the morning, and are significantly discounted because of the inconvenient time.
- Be aware of baggage fees. More and more airlines are increasing the cost of baggage fees. To avoid these costs, try booking flights with airlines that allow one or two bags free of charge, such as JetBlue or Southwest. If you do have to pay a baggage fee, make sure you don’t pay more than you need to by making sure that your bag meets the size and weight requirements set by the airline. This way, you can avoid overweight and oversized luggage fees. Additionally, try fitting as much as you can into your carry-on luggage (as long as it doesn’t exceed the weight and size limit).
- Research any other fees. When shopping for airline tickets, remember that the first price you see may not be the price you will end up paying. Often you will find that there are a number of taxes and fees that are not reflected in this initial price, so you need to look for any additional charges when you’re researching airfare. Some of these taxes and fees are mandatory and are tacked on to the price of every ticket. However, airlines are not always upfront about these additional costs.
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