Yes, Virginia, there are cheaper days to fly, especially during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. And if you plan your flight schedule to include connecting, instead of direct flights, you will save a bundle.
It’s true. The airlines lower their fees on holiday days and days surrounding holidays because fewer travelers are choosing those days. If you can opt for some of the cheaper flying dates, you could save enough for another flight on a later date.
Read on . . .
My husband and I have the luxury of flying when we choose; we don’t spend holidays with family or friends, so we opt for flying days when most people aren’t flying. And what a difference that makes to our wallets.
Best Departure and Return Dates on Holidays
We aren’t alone in our logic. Travel advisors like Rick Seaney publish the best dates for cheap holiday travel. Check out his “best departure or return” dates; you’ll be surprised at the money you’ll save. For instance, at Christmas these are your best departure dates:
And your best return dates:
Make Money While Traveling
Another bit of money-making travel advice is to opt for flights you guess might be full. Book your flights in anticipation of being “bumped.” Of course, you must plan for your delay, so don’t have any appointments you must attend upon your return home.
My husband and I did that recently coming out of Houston, Texas. Because we plan for a “soft” arrival back home, meaning we can be delayed by a day or two, we were able to “volunteer” to give up our seats on a busy evening flight.
The airlines are grateful when you do this and offer everything from a free hotel stay, free food vouchers, free shuttle to their hotel, free upgrade to first class, and valuable vouchers towards future flights (ours was $300 each). But lots of people like to take advantage of being bumped, so here are a few tricks to ensure you can be the first to volunteer your seat.
Tips for Getting Bumped from your Flight
- Be both courteous and memorable. Gate attendants are only human and he or she will make the decision on who to bump. A likeable person is more likely to get chosen over a pushy passenger.
- Go immediately to your boarding gate and ask if the plane is full or overbooked. If so, volunteer immediately. The gate attendant may not accept your offer right away, but at least he or she will be aware of you. This is when the romance of the gate attendant begins. Be memorable.
- Stay near the gate desk. The gate attendant will make a public announcement when he or she determines they will need a volunteer/s to give up their seat. You don’t want some other passenger to outrun you, so stay near by.
- Luggage can be a deal-breaker. If you can travel with only carry-on luggage, you will have an advantage over someone else with checked baggage. But checked luggage will not hold an airline back from accepting you as a volunteer; it’s just a little more complicated.
- Keep your passport and boarding documents handy. The gate attendant will take your boarding pass from you in anticipation of bumping you from the plane.
Once you have been bumped, be certain the gate attendant has made arrangements for changes to any connecting flights you might need. The gate attendant in Houston failed to do this, so we had a little knuckle-biting in Seattle when we discovered that we hadn’t been booked for any connecting flight. And the flight we needed was full. Patience paid off and we were placed on the overbooked flight bumping some other lucky persons.
Wishing your safe and happy (and rewarding) travels,
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