how to find the cheapest airfare - even when it seems impossible!

It's no secret I spend a lot of time traveling, just look at my instagram.  With a boyfriend in the military over 2000 miles away, a job that can be done with nothing more than wifi and my laptop, and a love of seeing new places it's safe to say I spend a good chunk of my time looking up airline prices, paying airline prices, being in an airport, or flying 10,000+ miles in the air. 

If you're traveling roundtrip from NYC to Orlando finding an affordable flight may not be that much of a challenge. BUT if you're flying from one slightly obscure airport to another ever more obscure airport you may be paying close to $500 for a one way. WHICH IS OUTRAGEOUS!  I've compiled a list of tried and true methods to keep airline costs down.

  1. Pick an airline, fly on it exclusively, use your frequent flyer number for points. Airline miles/points lend a ton of freedom when booking a ticket.  Many airlines that don't allow cancellations or changes when you pay by cash or card may allow you to do so with points.  A super plus if you sign up for a credit card that turns rewards points into airline miles.  You'll get special boarding, airline perks, and reward flights.
  2. Create your own itinerary. Sometimes a flight from Hartford to Houston, then a second flight with a second itinerary from Houston to Corpus Christi, is about $200 cheaper than a combined itinerary the airline compiled. Sometimes this is true using the same airline for both or combining different carriers. I book two separate "trips" all the time and just make sure to leave enough time to change planes.  ALSO with this option, unless you are on the same airline for both flights and they'll allow you to combine them at the gate, you'll have to carry on your luggage.
  3. Fly into a nearby city and rent a car. Sometimes a larger or different airport nearby can be significantly cheaper.  I've flown into San Antonio numerous times and gotten a one-way car rental to drive into Corpus Christi for about $70.  This option may be more time consuming, and more expensive than a round trip car rental, but if you're saving $300 on airfare it's totally worth it.
  4. Southwest, Southwest, Southwest. Southwest is my favorite airline to fly. Their change/cancellation policies are phenomenal in addition to their "bags fly free" motto and excellent customer service. You can change your ticket, or cancel for a total fare credit valid for a year, up to TEN MINUTES before your flight takes off.  That simply cannot be beat, other airlines will charge as much as $200 for changes/cancellations. I also find their fares to be the cheapest on the market.
  5. Book four to six week prior. Unfortunately for me is usually an impossibility, the military tends to change schedules and trainings on a whim so planning over two weeks in advance is generally considered a luxury.  Most people won't have this issue so booking 4-6 weeks before your departure date will score you the best deals.  I use Kayak to check all airlines other than Southwest and they allow you to set up daily/weekly price alerts.  Sign up for these and when the price drops BOOK IT!  There are very few last minute deals in the airline industry now.

Traveling is one of my greatest pleasures in life, paying an arm and a leg to do so isn't. If you have any tried and true methods I would love to hear them!  The more money I save, the more time I can spend in Texas with that special military man.  Hope this helps :)