frugal tips for flying

I just got back from our first family trip with my baby and learned a lot about how to save money while flying. If you’re unprepared, you can end up paying an arm and a leg for certain things. But with a little foresight and preparation, you can come out ahead.

1. Subscribe to airline emails to find out about sales.

Be the first to find out about the latest sales on airfare by subscribing to emails from your favorite airlines. Recently, I got a really good deal on tickets for Southwest for $39 each way. I never saw that price again.

2. Fly on a weekday.

If your dates are flexible, plan to fly on a weekday, Monday – Thursday. Airfares are the most expensive Fri – Sun.

3. Don’t pay to check in luggage.

If you can help it, don’t pay to check in luggage. Travel light and do laundry at your destination, if you can. Bring your suitcase as a carry on or fly on a carrier that offers free checked baggage. See next tip.

4. Fly on an airline that offers free checked baggage.

JetBlue and Southwest are the only 2 airlines that offer free checked baggage for US domestic travel. Checking in baggage and not having to lug it around the airport is a luxury that is rare these days!

JetBlue lets you check in your first bag for free. Southwest offers 2 free checked in baggages!

5. Have an extra duffel bag.

If you’re flying on an airline that offers free checked in baggage, bring an empty duffel bag, in case your suitcase exceeds the weight limit to avoid paying over the limit fees. Then if it’s overweight, you can transfer some things into the duffel bag.

You’ll then have 1 of these 3 options:

a. If you’re flying Southwest, you can check in the duffel bag as a 2nd baggage for free.

b. If you’re flying with a significant other, family member, or friend and you both shared a suitcase, they can check in the duffel bag free as part of their baggage allowance.

c. You can bring the duffel bag onto the plane as part of your carry-on allowance.

6. Bring your own food.

Buying food at the airport is like highway robbery. Last time I was unprepared and in a rush to get to the airport so I had to buy food there. I paid $18 for 2 bottled waters, a muffin, and a yogurt parfait! OMG, I felt so ripped off. Never again!

Before we flew back home, we made sure to stop somewhere for sandwiches and snacks.

7. Carry an empty water bottle.

Bottled water at the airport costs $3. In the old days, before the popularity of bottled water, everyone drank water from the water fountain or faucet.

If you bring an empty water bottle, you can fill up at the water fountain after you pass the security check point.

Or if you’re not comfortable with tap water, bring a water bottle with a built-in filter in the cap, so that it filters your water when you fill up.

Bobble BPA Free Water Bottle and Brita Bottle with Filter are pretty cool ones and cost under $10. And you can use it over and over again.

8. Ask for more than one drink during the flight.

Did you know that you can get more than one drink when the flight attendant asks for your drink order? As long as it’s non-alcoholic, you can ask for more than one drink and ask for no ice if you want the full cup of liquid. You can even ask for the can. It never hurts to ask. All they can say is no.

9. Your child under 2 can fly free.

If your child is under the age of 2, they can fly with you as a lap child free for domestic flights. What that means is that they don’t get their own seat. But for a child that young, you would be holding them most of the time anyway.

You will need to bring a birth certificate and check in at the ticket counter. They will verify your document and issue you a boarding verification document for your child.

If you think you’ll be tired of carrying your child during the flight, you can always carry them in a baby carrier. I did this and used the Ergo Baby Carrier. It distributes the weight onto your hips instead of your shoulders. It’s very comfortable to wear but it’s geared for children 15 lbs and up. And it has pockets in front to store your boarding pass.

It’s a little pricey but really worth it. You can always use Amazon gift cards or points to pay for it. Check out my recent post on 5 Ways to Get Free Amazon Gift Cards.

Also, if the flight is not full, you may be able to bring your car seat on the plane at no charge. During our flight back, there were 50 extra seats so they encouraged us to bring our car seats onto the plane.

If you want to buy a ticket for your child under 2, so that they can have a seat, check with your airline to see if they have a discounted rate.

10. Check in car seats, strollers, and stroller frames free.

When you’re traveling with a child, you’re allowed to check in a car seat, stroller frame, and stroller free. They’re exempt from baggage allowances and charges. You can even push your child in it all the way to the gate and check it in there.

You’re also allowed to bring liquid baby formula on the plane in reasonable amounts and the 3 oz rule doesn’t apply. You will still have to declare it at the security check point and TSA will scan it through a special machine. I recommend bringing extra bottles in case your flight is delayed.

Featured in the Festival of Frugality #331: Global Stock Markets Edition, hosted by Squirrelers.

 

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