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Friday, April 12, 2024

Cheapest Ways for Seniors to Book a Flight

If you think you know the best and only place to check for inexpensive flights, get ready to be enlightened. We fill you in on the best tips for stretching your air travel dollars.

Welcome to booking a flight in 2024. It’s so much more than going to one site and loading your travel dates and destination! While that’s still possible (and we give you the best single site for doing just that), you need to have a lot more tricks up your sleeve for finding a good deal. 

It can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to find a good deal on the internet. There’s just so much information, it’s easy to throw up your hands and fall back on booking your favorite airline regardless of price. Well, grasshopper, Senior Spirit is here to give you just enough savvy ins and outs so you can feel comfortable going a step or three further on your search to save money. 

Google Flights

Let’s start with the basics. The best one-stop shop is GoogleFlights, where you can check for prices on domestic and international air. Google Flights will tell you when the window for booking the lowest price for a given trip usually occurs, and if the prices you’re looking at are typical, high or low compared to the average. Just enter your dates and destination, tap “Done” and you’ll find the information above your airline options.

Incognito Mode

But you’ll want to go way beyond Google if you’re at all serious about saving money. Did you know that after you’ve searched for fares a time or two, the cookies in your browser will automatically increase the price? To avoid this, always use private browsing mode (incognito) every time you search for airfare. In Safari and Chrome, hit “Command” (“Control” on a PC), “Shift” and then “N”. For Firefox or Internet Explorer, replace the “N” key with a “P”. This opens a new window where your information isn’t tracked. And be sure to open a new incognito window every time you start a search to erase any saved cookies.

Skyscanner and Momondo

While Google Flights is adequate for a start, you can up your game by comparing prices offered on Skyscanner and Momondo. These search engines take minimal cuts and feature the largest amount of flights to choose from. Seasoned travelers use these two to find the consistently lowest fares.

To find the dates with the lowest fares on Skyscanner, enter your departure and arrival airports and click on “One Way” (even if you want a round trip). Click “Depart” on your computer, but rather than selecting a date click on “Whole Month” and then “Cheapest Month” before tapping “Search Flights”. Repeat for your return flight. Skyscanner can help you stumble on error rates, when an airline has accidentally inserted an incorrect (lower!) fare. 

Unexpected Destinations

Try using to stimulate your wanderlust. Just enter your departure city and a date range. A map will appear with prices of flights listed to dozens of countries from your departure point, and a list sorted from cheapest to most expensive destinations pops open. Pretty amazing, right? Maybe you’ll find a deal on Sri Lanka or New Zealand, or at least pique your interest in some novel destinations. The true beauty of Kiwi is that it will mix and match airlines, including budget airlines, to get you the least expensive price.

And in case you were wondering, Kiwi offers its own guarantee that you will be able to make those connecting flights between different airlines. They’ll also book bus and train connections, and the guarantee covers those modes of travel, too. 

Layovers as Destinations

Many flights to points beyond use Hawaii as a refueling stop. If you’re going to a Caribbean island, you may pause in Puerto Rico. Longer journeys often give you the opportunity to get a rest and visit another place by extending that layover to a couple of days or more. As seniors, it’s often more restful to cut a longer journey into shorter pieces. If you’re booking a trip and see that you have a layover somewhere interesting, book the journey yourself in legs so that you can spend more time at your stop. 

Error and Sale Fares

Try Going (US flights) or Dollar Flight Club (International) to find super discounted fares. Both sites comb through prices to find those that are super cheap deals. Make a free account or bump up to premium to get deals sent to your inbox. 

Budget Airlines

To get a great deal, you should look beyond the major carriers to budget airlines. Just know that there may be caveats such as an extra charge for baggage or check-in requirements. Check this list of what to know before you fly with a budget airline. Many are located in the US, including Allegiant and Southwest, which offers a credit card that can earn you a free companion pass

Benefits and Credit Cards

Speaking of credit cards, you should always check out the benefits that are available with either one you get that is branded with an airline you fly often, or a general travel card such as Chase Sapphire.  You can often earn points for free flights, get priority boarding and/or a free drink onboard, or other perks such as a free or reduced rate for luggage. When you use the card to book, you generally get 2% to 4% cash back. We always like to mention that you will only benefit from a credit card if you pay it off in full every month. 

We hope that this page has inspired you to book a trip! There’s plenty of information here to help you save hundreds of dollars. But if you yearn for a list of every budget airline and the most obscure budget-friendly tips, we recommend you read the Thrifty Nomads blog. These two adventure-loving friends have traveled the globe to bring you great advice on trip planning. 

Yes, they’re youngsters, and you may not feel quite as comfortable stretching yourself as they do. But it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of trying a new search site, using incognito mode, or checking out credit card offers to get you on your way at a lower price!