In the past few months, our Heroes at Home Financial Education Team has been traveling to some pretty remote places in the North. When traveling into such locations, the airports are small. Like two gates small. And from my seat, I can see the entire airport. I am thinking particularly about our last destination: Minot, ND. Three airlines fly out of Minot: Delta, United, and Allegiant. There are three destinations you can fly direct from MOT: Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and 2 trips weekly to Las Vegas.
Needless to say, flying into Minot, and other places like it, can be pretty expensive. And the service members stationed at Minot AFB know this all too well. It can cost thousands of dollars every year if they want to go home to visit their families around the country. The story was the same for the military members we met at Ellsworth AFB, SD, and Grand Forks AFB, ND.
Here are a few of the tips I gave them to try to get the best deals going home:
- Break Down the Legs of the Trip: A lot of these northern destinations have one or two hubs they fly into. For example, flights to and from Rapid City, SD route through Denver. Many flights into Grand Forks route through Minneapolis. These flights are often shuttles to larger airports that will then fly out from there to destinations around the country. Find out the hub that you will shuttle to, and book separate flights. Use a budget airline like Southwest to fly into the larger destination, then book the shuttle flight to coincide with the arrival time. Be sure to give yourself a good buffer between flights.
- Know the right Days to Fly and to Buy: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the best days to book a ticket, and the best days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
- Use App Like Hopper: This is my new favorite app. You enter the destination and it calculates the best days to fly, and it will alert you when it is the best time to buy your tickets. Make sure you compare prices with Southwest and other budget airlines, since Hopper current doesn’t calculate these.
- Drive to a Bigger Airport: If you are able to drive to a bigger airport, it still may be cheaper than the more expensive ticket. Use cheapairportparking.org to find the best parking at places in the area. When I travel, I park my car at a nearby hotel and use their shuttle to get to the airport. Remember to arrive 30-45 minutes ahead of time to accommodate the shuttle service. Also, use GasBuddy.com to calculate how much gas it will cost to make the roundtrip.
- Book Ahead: It is usually best to book 6-8 weeks ahead of your trip. You can shop early, but you don’t always have to buy early. However, when it comes to holiday travel, buy as soon as possible!
Remember these tips and hopefully you will be paying a little less for your airfare.