The Average Cost of Domestic Airfare Is $260: 5 Tips to Save More Money on Air Travel

by Natasha Gabrielle | Updated Jan. 16, 2022 - First published on Sept. 24, 2021

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Air travel can be pricey. These tips will help you save more money on your next flight.

No matter what destination you choose, travel can be expensive. Often, one of the more significant travel costs is airfare. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the nationwide average domestic airfare cost in Q1 of 2021 was $260.31. That's a lot of money to spend to travel by air.

What if I told you that you could save money on the cost of airfare just by making some changes? The following tips will help you save more money on air travel for domestic and international trips. You may want to give them a try.

1. Check and re-check airfare prices before booking

It's always a good idea to get a feel for the cost of airfare tickets before you finalize your booking. This way, you know what to expect financially. Doing this also gives you a chance to monitor pricing to see if the price may go down. It's easy to do, and it could save you money.

Here's an example: In early August, I checked the cost of tickets to Paris. I wanted to use a particular airline because I had travel credit to use up. When I checked prices, my round-trip journey was going to cost around $1,100.

I decided to hold off and keep an eye on prices. About three weeks later, I went ahead and booked tickets for just over $700 for a round-trip journey for the same ticket type. I still got the dates I originally wanted, and I now have leftover airline credit to use on a future trip.

You can discover cheaper flights by looking at pricing through Google Flights and re-check pricing every few days. Another option is to use a tool like Hopper. You can set alerts within the app. It will then monitor pricing for you and will tell you when it's the best time to buy.

2. Consider flying out of alternate airports

It may make sense to check pricing from alternate airports. This is especially true if you live within one or two hours' driving distance to more than one airport. But before booking tickets out of another airport, be sure to consider additional travel costs such as:

  • Gas
  • Tolls
  • Airport parking

Take note of your departure and arrival times and make sure it's feasible for you to drive to and from the airport within a comfortable time frame. The last thing you need is extra stress right before your trip begins.

3. Be adventurous and let the prices decide where you go

If you're open to adventure, why not let the price of airfare decide where you go? You can visit a new place, take much-needed time away from work, and pay less for travel. If you want to search airfare by deals, here are three great tools you can use:

  • Google Flights
  • Skyscanner
  • Momondo

These tools allow you to search by area and see prices. You can explore a whole country or continent. Additionally, Skyscanner and Momondo enable you to choose "everywhere" or "anywhere" as your destination, which may introduce the idea of a destination you never even considered. This method makes it easy to find affordable flights and makes your next trip a true adventure.

4. Don't rule out budget airlines

Budget airlines get a bad reputation. They charge extra fees, have more limited flight options, and their customer service may not always be stellar. But you can find affordable flights. Budget airlines like Spirit, Frontier Airlines, and Allegiant Airlines are good options if you're looking for a cheap flight within the United States.

Make sure you understand what your ticket includes before booking. You'll likely only be able to bring a backpack-sized personal item for free. Otherwise, you'll need to pay extra for luggage. Most budget airlines charge you if you want to pick a specific seat. If you like to pack light and need to get somewhere affordably, flying with a budget airline may be a smart way to save money on the cost of air travel.

Related: See The Ascent's Frontier Airlines World Mastercard Review.

5. Use a travel rewards card

Travel rewards credit cards are a great way to earn rewards on your spending. Consider using one the next time you book a trip or make any other purchase. Over time, you can accumulate points. Once you save up enough points, you might choose to redeem points for travel, including airfare. This can result in nearly free travel. This list of top travel credit cards can help you choose the right credit card for you.

Depending on the trip, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by redeeming points instead of paying cash. In addition to general travel cards, there are airline credit cards and hotel cards too. But be aware of the cost of taxes and fees before redeeming your points for flights because award travel isn't 100% free.

Whether traveling domestically or internationally, airfare can be pricey. But you don't have to break your vacation budget when booking airline tickets. Consider following the above tips to help trim the cost of your next vacation.

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