Flying is a mild to moderate inconvenience for just about everyone––it can be cramped and, sometimes it can break the bank. We can’t do much about space, but we can do our best to get a great deal on flights. Here are a few tips to help you get the most for your money and pay less for carry-ons…and, if money’s not a determining factor and you like to travel in style, we’ve got you covered there, too.
There are a lot of airlines out there, but only a few will give you the most bang for your buck. Before we start, note that the best time for you to book a flight is 54 days before takeoff. Keep that in mind as you look for flights with the following airlines.
Frontier: Frontier might be one of those lesser known airlines that you’re pretty sure you’ve heard of, but don’t know much about. This Denver-based airline serves 50+ cities in the U.S. and Mexico, and prides itself on delivering ‘Low Fares Done Right,’ as its slogan says. Depending on where you’re going, you can find rates well below $100 round trip, as I did when looking for an Austin-to-Denver flight that came out to a whopping $56 total. Travel light, because, as with many airlines, you can bring one personal item for free, but baggage fees can cost you more than $30, and yes––Frontier does charge a carry-on fee.
Allegiant: One of the things that makes Allegiant a good option is that it caters to a variety of small- and mid-sized cities across the U.S without charging an arm and a leg. I flew this airline when I lived in the Midwest, a few years ago, and it was fairly efficient and inexpensive. A quick look at the website will show you deals as low as $29 one way to cities like Oakland, CA, Grand Junction, CO, Casper, WY, and Shreveport, LA.
Spirit: Spirit is an interesting airline, as they’re going the extra mile when it comes to transparency by showing you the cost breakdown of your ticket. Base fare, fuel, tax––they show you how much each piece costs so you have an understanding of where your money is going. Want even cheaper flights? Of course you do! Spirit offers the $9 Fare Club, which gets you discounted fares, cheaper bag fees, and covers everyone on your booking. On a flight from Portland, OR to San Diego, CA, you could save $100 by being part of the $9 Fare Club, which isn’t anything to sneeze at.
Southwest: Everyone knows Southwest Airlines, right? This Dallas-based company has been flying people to 90+ destinations around the U.S. and beyond for more than 35 years. They were one of the first low-cost carriers, meaning they offer customers low prices over amenities, and it has worked for them, as the airline became the world’s largest in 2014. They compete with many of the brands mentioned above but, with a longer reach, chances are when Southwest throws one of their big sales, you know about it. No sale going on right now? Use their website to search for the lowest fares by month to get the best deal. And, feel free to pack as much as you need…each passenger is allowed to check TWO bags, up to 50 pounds each, for FREE!
Virgin America: Okay, so Virgin America isn’t nearly as inexpensive as the airlines mentioned above, but sometimes you want to have a little fun while you’re flying. From their mood lighting, to their in-flight entertainment system, electrical outlets, and an on-demand menu that lets you order cocktails and food any time you want. Sure, you might spend a bit more, but with features like this, it’s worth it. An added bonus? If being on time is important to you, Virgin America takes the title for the fourth year in a row.
Flying in Luxury
What’s that you say? You don’t want to be cramped in coach?
Fly First Class: The most obvious thing you can do is to not purchase the cheapest flights you can find––go first class. You’ll get more room, more amenities, and generally better service. Most airlines offer perks and upgrades, but there are a few that go above and (in some cases, way) beyond when it comes to treating their customers:
Virgin America offers almost two feet of extra legroom, priority boarding and security checks, premium snacks, and complimentary meals for flights over two hours to all first-class customers. The seats look more like recliners, and have built-in swiveling touch-screen entertainment systems.
Jet Blue makes paying extra well worth it with their Jet Blue Mint program, featuring fast check in, early boarding, free WiFi, and sweet seats––seats that can recline to a fully lie-flat position, and have a built-in massage feature and privacy door. If that’s not enough, access satellite TV and radio, enjoy gourmet meals and get your luggage from the baggage claim first.
Emirates is not playing around when it comes to luxury, my friends. You think a privacy door is awesome? They have a shower! Start your trip in your private suite at the minibar, then watch a movie, enjoy food prepared from locally-sourced ingredients, then schedule some time in the shower spa. Seriously, a shower at 40,000 feet during a flight from Los Angeles to Dubai sounds like a pretty singular experience. After you refresh, head to the lounge on the Emirates A380 for a cocktail. To recap, you can get a private suite, a shower spa, and a cocktail from the lounge, all while flying to your destination. Better than coach, right?
Safe travels wherever you’re off to…and enjoy the friendly skies.
Article written by Bruce Sturgell
Bruce is the founder of Chubstr.com, a style blog that helps guys to find, create, and share their own personal style with the world by offering them articles, resources, and reader photo submissions.
Bruce has been featured in the New York Times, Refinery 29, The Huffington Post, The Cut, The Sydney Morning Herald, MSN, and Le Monde for the unique and interesting content he’s created through Chubstr.