Most of you may already know this but I think it bears repeating because I am sometimes guilty of making the same mistakes repeatedly.
When searching for airfares for my winter vacations I start early, about three months ahead of time and I check the regular websites for the best deals on flights. The main website I use is Kayak which gives you some pretty decent customization options as far as whittling down the exact flight times and non-stop flights so you can only be viewing flights that meet your criteria instead of 1000 or so flights that have 2 or more connections or are red-eyes.
I prefer early morning direct flight departures and mid day direct flight returns. Kayak allows me to do searches for the exact flights that meet my criteria.
The searches can be then filtered by cheapest price or best times or shortest route. The way I usually perform my search for the best flights is this-
I check off
- My flights are flexible (Plus/Minus 3 days)
- Depart Early
- Return Mid-day
Now I’ll check every other day or so until the flights I want come up within the prices that are reasonable to me. For Florida this means direct flights at the right times for anything under $235 and for the Caribbean anything under $400.
Once I see those flights coming up I go directly to the airline’s site for which that fare is listed to se if it is listed for cheaper on the Airline’s website. I figure that most times the airfare aggregator probably adds $10 or so to the costs to pay for their service. some times it will be listed a little cheaper on the Airline’s website, sometimes not but it’s always good to check IMO.
Now here is the thing though that even I who I consider to be a pretty informed and savvy web travel person still to this day forget at times in the excitement to book a great deal.
Firstly there are the baggage fees that should be taken into consideration.
Here is an airline baggage fee chart from Kayak for reference-
American Airlines charges $25 for your first checked bag on domestic travel.
Jet Blue offers the first checked bag as free.
So when comparing the two 9 times out of ten I will book the cheapest fare the way it is listed on the Kayak site but forget about the baggage fees. A $225 flight to Miami on American actually will cost you more than a $240 flight to Miami on Jet Blue if you check one bag, but it won’t be listed that way on either kayak or on the individual Airline’s respective websites. now $15 isn’t a whole lot but then if you consider that you might be flying with a partner or children and it turns out to be three checked bags that would be $45 each way equals $90. Ideally you can travel light and avoid checked bags all together but in many instances that is just not a reality.
The next point that I would like to make is that not all airlines are created equal and some don’t have TV or Internet on them. I don’t know about you but I would gladly pay an extra $30 for round trip airfare anywhere in the country that offered tv and/or internet in the seatbacks in front of you.
So now lets take the above instance of the flight to Miami on American for $225 which doesn’t have internet and only has a couple of TV’s in the middle of the aisles for which you may or may not have a decent view of and charges you an extra $25 for your checked bag.
$240 for a flight without a checked bag fee on a newer Jet Blue plane which offers wifi internet and individual TV’s in each seat is an absolute bargain.
Take your time when you are booking your flights and figure out what the baggage fees will be along with if the airline has wifi on your flight. A flight to Vegas with internet access will literally FLY BY a whole lot quicker with the internet to distract you, I guarantee it.