This country we call home is huge! From coast to coast, it’s more than 3,000 miles. That, of course, doesn’t cover any overseas travel that you desire to do. It takes hours and hours, just to drive hundreds of miles, so naturally flying becomes our main choice in travel to make the best use of our time.
With summer in full swing and our family’s schedule a little more open and available (for the most part!), we’re more inclined to use that time vacationing.
Searching for Cheaper Airfare? Here’s How to Save Money When Flying This Summer
Like several other military families, I try and fly back to my hometown of Austin, Texas, at least once a year outside of the holidays. Whether you are using your summer time off to go to grandma’s house or to explore a new location, it’s most likely it’s far enough away where you need to hop on a plane. My parents have also spent a lot of time in the air, especially my dad. He utilized frequent flyer miles with his job.
Plan Your Travel in Advance, Avoid Holiday Travel
I give credit to him because he’s the one that has shared tips and tricks for me to get the most bang for my buck when purchasing airline tickets, particularly back to my hometown.
The sooner you have dates locked down for travel is really the best time to buy, especially if it’s during a holiday. Aim to purchase airfare about 50 days out, if you can manage. And really, if you can help it, avoid the holidays (that means, no to a last-minute Labor Day weekend getaway) altogether!
Tuesdays Best Day to Buy, Best Day to Fly
But, we all know that military life can be a bit unpredictable, so it’s good to have a couple more things to consider before buying a plane ticket. There are times of the day and days of the week that yield cheaper prices for everyone. I typically purchase my plane tickets on the No. 1 buying day, which is Tuesday (according to Forbes and Business Insider).
In addition, the day you travel helps with ticket price. CNN says that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the ideal days to travel and to avoid Sundays and Fridays. I’ve come to realize that Saturdays and Mondays sometimes have pricier tickets, so I stay away from those days as well.
I use resources like Kayak.com to gauge the difference in prices between the airlines and it also shows the prices days before and after your requested travel day. I love the ability to compare airlines and days of the week.
If the prices you see online aren’t appealing to you, go straight to the airlines for special rates.
Luckily for the military community, several airlines offer a military discount.
United, Jet Blue, American Airlines (now includes US Airways), Southwest and Delta are the major airlines that advertise a discount for military members. Most require a phone call to receive the military rate as it’s not available to purchase online.
I typically write down what’s available online and then call to see if there is a substantial difference. Generally, the online rate might be cheaper, but that’s only based on my experiences.
For example, on my recent vacation to Seattle, I contacted Southwest airlines because the flight times and prices online were the cheapest. I called to speak to a representative about the military rate and Southwest’s “Wanna Get Away” rate was cheaper, so while I was on the phone with them, I made the online reservation.
Don’t Forget About Space-A Travel
Another great (and sometimes scary) way to save money is to use Space-A travel. I know, yikes! It’s a bit confusing and really, from what I know about it, you really should have a lot of wiggle room with your travel date, if you’re opting to use it.
My parents have used Space-A travel and I’ve participated as a military child. From what I remember, don’t forget to ask a lot of questions and I would suggest having your spouse talk through it with their command. Schedules can sometimes change, so there are a whole lot of things to consider when you decide to fly at the mercy of the military.