How to Find Cheap Airfare for Spring Break
January 19th, 2011
Spring Break is more than just a week-long hiatus from classes – for many young people, it’s a rite of passage. Even if you took Spring Break trips during high school, there’s nothing quite like Spring Break travel when you’re in college – already away from your parents, and making travel plans independently.
There are positives and negatives to this freedom, of course. On the down side, you’re not necessarily as travel savvy as your elders might be, and therefore not as good at searching out the best possible Spring Break travel deals. On the plus side, however, there are lots of great discounts available for students and young people in general. It’s a travel perk with an expiration date, so take advantage of it while you can!
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways to find cheap airfare when you’re planning your Spring Break trips as a student. Because even though you’re entitled to some discounts as a student, it still pays to look for ways to save even more.
>> When is Spring Break? Depends what school you go to – but for most people, it’ll be the first or second week of March.
Be Flexible With Travel Schedule
One of the best ways to save money on airfare whenever you fly, no matter where you’re going or what your age, is to be flexible. It’s great if you’re doing yoga, but that’s not what being flexible means in this case. Here, we’re talking about not being too locked into certain travel dates and times so you can take advantage of cheaper flights.
It’s possible that the exact date and time that you want to fly will coincidentally hit the sweet spot and be the cheapest flight. But if you don’t check other dates and times, you won’t know that for sure and could risk paying more than you need to for your airline ticket.
Many booking websites will give you the option of searching more than one date and time at once by checking a box that says “my dates are flexible,” or something along those lines. If you see language like that, let the website do the work for you. If you don’t, you can always do it manually instead by picking a variety of dates in a given window and then a few different times of day as well.
Use Budget Airlines
You’ve heard of big airlines like American, United, and Delta – and those are the ones you’ll typically see on most booking websites. But there are plenty of other smaller airlines that are worth checking out because they often charge far less than their big cousins.
Budget carriers are sometimes regional, only serving certain parts of a country, so if you’re spending Spring Break in an area you’re not familiar with it pays to see which budget airlines serve that region to give yourself more options. Also keep in mind that many times the budget airlines will fly into a secondary airport rather than a city’s larges airport, but we’ll cover that point below.
Choose Cheaper Times & Days to Fly
This is another piece of advice that will serve you well later in life, because it’s not just reserved to traveling at Spring Break or, frankly, around a particular holiday. The fact is that there are traditionally cheaper days of the week to fly, as well as cheaper times of the day. On those days and times you’ll typically find lower airfares, all else being equal.
Wednesdays tend to be the cheapest day of the week to fly, which may not be as useful for Spring Break travel. Following Wednesday, however, the other days to look at for good prices are Saturday and Tuesday – so that Saturday flight is worth looking at, or a Tuesday flight if you don’t mind a slightly shorter vacation break.
The cheapest flights on any day are routinely the very early morning departures. It makes sense, since most sane people would prefer to be sleeping rather than sitting at a gate waiting for a flight, but if you can stomach setting your alarm for something in the neighborhood of 4am you could get a major price break on your ticket. Besides, you can nap when you get wherever you’re going, right?
Look at Alternate Airports
As mentioned above, some budget airlines fly into an airport that isn’t a city’s main airport – the reasons for this differ, from bigger airports charging higher fees to terminal space at older airports being at a premium. Whatever the reason, it’s always worth investigating whether there are other airports near the city you’re going to.
When you’re doing that research, the main thing you want to find out is what the transportation situation is. With enough time to spare, you could probably make an airport that’s within an hour from your destination work – but if that other airport doesn’t have decent transportation to your destination, that’s a big problem. Is there an easy bus or shuttle? Maybe a train ride? Or are you going to be forced to take an expensive taxi ride or rent a car? (And, if a rental car is the only option, are you old enough to do that?!?)
Secondary airports aren’t always the better option, but it’s a good idea to check before you rule them out entirely.
>> Read more about alternate airports in the United States
Ask for Student Discounts
Just because you don’t see a student discount obviously pointed out on a booking website doesn’t mean there isn’t one. In fact, some companies rely on the fact that you won’t ask so they can charge you more. So always ask – always look for discounts, either based on your student status or your age. The worst they can do is say no.
photo by Markiza