Cut Airline Costs: 5 Novel Ideas

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As airline costs have gone up, some travelers are finding creative new ways to save.

The cost of flying is going up, it sometimes seems, as quickly as an airliner at takeoff. Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports, the average cost of a domestic airline ticket is gone up by $44 or more than 12%. What’s more, the fees the airlines charge for handling extra baggage and other services are heading upward even faster. One consulting firm has reported that the airlines made more than $27 billion in various fees alone, roughly twice the amount that they made only 4 years ago.

This isn’t the kind of news we like to hear, especially when we’re planning a fall trip to Europe or winter in Hawaii or the Caribbean. But, if you’d like to trim some of these extra costs a bit, here are some novel strategies several travel experts recommend:

  1. Check out the checked-luggage policies of various airlines before you buy your tickets. While some airlines can be downright greedy, charging for every checked bag you have and charging higher and higher amounts for each additional bag, other airlines are more reasonable. If you have to pack heavy, see if you can book a flight with one of these carriers first. Among domestic airlines, for example, JetBlue lets you check your first bag and Southwest lets you check the first 2 bags free.
  2. Consider shipping some of your luggage prior to departure. If you’re planning to ski the Alps, for example, it might make great sense to simply ship your skis beforehand. Airlines will normally charge a lot to ship items like skis and golf clubs, but you may be able to get much better deals with shipping services such as the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx. There are also companies that specialize in shipping luggage. One is Luggage Forward.
  3. Look into flying on 2 airlines to get to your destination. Since ticket costs to various places from various places can vary so widely, it pays to comparison shop between airlines. Sometimes—as many seasoned travelers have learned—you can save significantly by booking on 2 different carriers. So, spend a few minutes sizing up your flying options.
  4. Take taxes into account, particularly when flying outside the U.S. Both airlines and airports charge taxes, and the tax rates vary dramatically from country to country. One country where both the airline and airport taxes are quite high, for example, is the U.K. So, many U.S. travelers visiting the U.K. fly to Ireland first and then ferry over.
  5. Don’t overlook the obvious cost-saving strategies. Sometimes, we take obvious cost-saving strategies for granted and overlook them. Just a few of these include: flying in the middle of the week, departing at odd hours, bundling hotel and car rental costs in with airfare, and booking your flights months in advance. So, when thinking about clever, out-of-the-box cost-saving strategies, don’t forget about the most obvious ones.

Do you have any ideas to cut the cost of flying? If so, we would be thrilled to hear from you. Just post a comment at the end of this blog and teach us a thing or 2!