As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.
~ George Orwell
Back in the day, probably as recently as 10 or so years ago but certainly 20 or more years ago, the ability to save money by flying stand by was all but assured. Now the answer to the question “can you save money by flying stand by?” is not all that cut and dry.
What has happened over the years and especially since 9/11 and with escalating fuel costs is that the airline industry has become much more competitive.
It has been a long time since I’ve seen a flight that had more than a few seats available. As such, it is my opinion that flying stand by is not the best practice anymore for most of us.
There are certainly deals to be had by flying stand by but there is no rule of thumb because each airline has its own rules related to how and how much to charge for standby fares. As mentioned, airlines are more competitive now which means that they are usually filling seats if not overbooking them to ensure full flights.
So if you want to save money on flying standby my best suggestion is that you contact the airlines you might want to use well in advance and ask them about their standby policies.
I personally don’t recommend flying standby as there are many other ways to save money on buying your airline tickets and certainly better ways to manage your time in my opinion. Not only is shopping for standby tickets somewhat onerous, you have to check with each air carrier separately, but you also have to wait and hope that you’ll get on the flight you want. With flights becoming more and more fully booked the chance of you getting on the first flight you want lessens.
So what can you do to save money on airline tickets?
Well, I’ve travelled a fair bit and I’ve come up with some ideas on making your air money travel further (like the pun ;)).
The first thing I do is to plan ahead. I like to plan at least 3 to 4 months ahead. I have found that you can get better deals if you plan this far ahead.
Granted, you can also get great deals last minute, but I don’t like to stress out about whether I’m going to be able to have the holiday I want or not. At OPOB we are all about living abundantly and part of that is about limiting stress. I don’t want to save tens of dollars or perhaps even a hundred dollars just to sweat and worry about getting to the destination I want on time.
So shop well ahead of time. I like to do all my shopping online. I don’t recommend any specific online travel agent as they often all seem similar, but take a look at a couple or 3 and test them out for yourself. Orbitz, Expedia are the kind of sites I’m talking about.
I also like to check the amount of the flight at different times of the day and week. I have found that often after around midnight or so you can find flights getting cheaper for some reason.
I have no idea why, but I have found this to be the case on more than one occasion. Also picking different days can make a difference. I suspect that the airlines are sometimes offering incentives and so this gets reflected in the price.
If you are a member of an automobile association you might also want to check with them if they have a travel department as I have gotten some good deals that way too. Surprisingly as I suspected using a full service travel agency would have cost me more but this is not necessarily the case.
You’ll also often find that travelling mid week, Monday through Thursday and sometimes on Saturdays can be cheaper too, especially if you stay at your destination over a weekend before returning. That is worth looking into. Obviously, flying between major cities is cheaper as there is less competition. So if you need to travel to a smaller town, you might want to fly to the closest major city and then investigate the cost of a bus or shuttle to the town of your destination. You might find it cheaper.
If the time you choose to fly is not ideal, you might also find those times to offer cheaper rates. Late evening or very early morning flights are sometimes cheaper because really, who wants to fly the redeye?
If you need hotel and car rental then investigate adding those in with the flight or separately. You don’t always get a better deal for buying a package including flight, hotel and transportation but you might often get a better deal packaging it together.
Spending an hour or so looking at deals, comparing prices can not only be fun but it can save you quite a bit of money.
But above all else and inline with this blog, be flexible and prudent.
Being flexible means that you allow yourself to think outside the box. Investigate rail and bus as options too. Why not do some layovers if you have a long trip – that can save you some money.
Being prudent means that you pay for your trip with cash. You can put it on your credit card for sure, but you have the cash to pay it off in full when the bill comes due. This is perhaps the biggest tip to saving money on anything not just flights.
I mean it’s not helpful to save a hundred bucks on your flight and vacation if you end up paying $110 on interest over the next year as you pay it off.