Celebrating the Journey: So Fly
You’ve been dreaming about getting away… you’ve got the “away” part down, it’s the “getting” there that’s problematic. If you’re determined to fly, it’s not just the price that matters; you can improve your getaway by picking the right seat, the right itinerary, the right airports, the right airlines… but how? Here are some tips.
1. Setting Your Sites Sky-high
Identifying good flight deals requires vigilant reviews of as many websites as possible. If you know any parameters—a given set of destinations, price range, date range—you can begin to hunt down a deal. Obviously there’s the official airline sites (sometimes the cheapest spot to look and always worth a gander, especially for international flights) and kayak.com, which will put all the deals together for you. But getting creative requires a bit more energy.
If you still have a university email address, you have a chance at accessing some of the deals on studentuniverse.com, but they’re best if you check it out a good time in advance of your travel, since seat allotments are limited. If you really don’t care where you’re going and just want to find the best deal, skyscanner.com shows you the best deals going anywhere from your home base. Theflightdeal.com allows you to sign up for daily emails that list great deals from your home city. Social media can be a good source of info as well; the ig account travelnoire as well as the exclusive Nomadness Travel Tribe often post good finds, or have links to them. If you have other suggestions, leave a comment below!
General rules of thumb:
- Avoid flying domestic (from the United States) airlines internationally; we don’t do service well.
- Try to use airlines that are all in the same alliance (One World or Star, generally) so that you can group up your miles all with one airline.
- Think about where airlines have hubs; if you’re flying during winter or hurricane season, you’d be safer flying with an airline that has a hub in your destination since they’ll have more flights going in and out.
- Factor in costs of baggage to your planning—a $100 difference in ticket price may be balanced out by baggage fees.
3. Airports and Itineraries
Savings in ticket prices won’t matter if you have to spend gobs of money and time just getting to the departure airport in the first place. Carefully check the placement of your destination airports to ensure you won’t be stranded in the middle of nowhere; before you book the flight, plan backwards. Make sure there is available lodging—and transportation to that lodging from the airport—before you click “buy.”
Similarly, savings in ticket prices may not matter if you have a 12 hour layover in an airport, or will arrive back home at a time that will make your jetlag worse. Time long flights to coincide with what your sleep time will be at destination, not at point of departure, so that your inflight nap helps you get on schedule. If that’s not possible, stay awake and work or read on the plane so that you’ll be ready to sleep well the night after you arrive.
This may seem like a minor point, but there are fun games to be played with seat selection. While window/aisle is totally personal preference, no one wants a middle seat…
- If there are only middle seats left, just don’t select a seat. Worst case scenario, you’ll just get a middle seat no matter what. Best case scenario your assignment at the airport will place you in a nicer seat left empty by a no-show.
- If window/aisle seats are available relatively close to the departure data, pick an option a bit further back on the plane—the back of the plane is less likely to fill up, so you’re more likely to have an empty seat next to you as a bonus.
- If it’s fairly close to the departure date and the plane looks empty (entire rows are open), go for gold and pick a center seat. No one is likely to choose a seat next to you so you’ll be able to lay out and sleep well!
Photo credits: Harya Tarekegn