I love saving money on my airfares. I have scored some great deals such as Business Class seats that have saved me thousands for a few tweaks of date or destination airport.
There are some mistakes people make in scrooging their travel. Here are the seven biggies:
- How reliable is the airline? When things go wrong, how likely is the airline going to be to help you? Look at this example from Allegiant where passengers were initially stranded.
- Cheap fare- High Extras: If you are only taking a small carry on, do not care where you sit and won’t eat on board, then the cheap fare you see, will be the cheap fare you pay. Many customers though get “nickled and dimed”, saving money on a cheap fare, only to find they have spent much more on these “extras”. That’s why the airline industry made over $US25billion from ancillaries. Some airlines even charge you extra to print a boarding pass. Check out this baggage fees chart. Note that Southwest still do not charge for checked in baggage
- Check the airport. The worst culprits are in Europe where Norwegian and Ryanair use airports that are nowhere near the city. For example, Norwegian flies to Oslo-Torp Airport which is 110km (60 miles) away from downtown! It is a $US68 round trip bus ride. Add that to your fare plus factor in the extra two hours transit. Frankfurt Hahn (Code: HHN) airport is not the same as Frankfurt Main Airport (Code: FRA). HHN is a two hours $USD 22.40 bus ride from downtown and insultingly the buses go via the Main airport! Wizzair and Ryanair who use the airport may not be upfront about the distance.
- Comfort: Most airlines have standardised to fairly similar legroom but that extra inch can mean a lot. Spirit’s standard legroom is 28″ while on JetBlue you get 34″. Some airlines still do not charge for exit row seats or charge less than others!
- Food, Glorious Food. On a long flight, an airline that serves enough decent food means you save money buying expensive airline food -and usually have a much nicer trip. For example, between Australia and Asia, Scoot’s buy on board meals are very pricey and quality dubious. I have found on some fares, that factoring in these meal costs make Singapore or Emirates much more attractive
- Watch the Departure Timings: You may save money leaving at 5 am but if that costs you your sanity, is it worth it? Or if you land after midnight and only way of getting to the airport is by taxi because the bus or subway isn’t running at that time, you may find you have spent more on a taxi than you saved on airfare.
- Think of the time you wasted: Sure you saved $40 but you spent the night on an airport bench in Houston because of that five hour middle of the night layover! Hipmunk is great for helping you compare flight durations. On that note: spending a day searching for an airfare that will save you $20 is not a good use of time
Any other fare mistakes? What was your worst mistake?