For an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in the U.S., international students must pay up to $40,000 a year in tuition fees alone.
For graduate programs, international students pay up to $45,000 a year in tuition fees. For degrees in areas like law and medicine, the fees are even higher.
Add to it the cost of books, food, and accommodation, and as if all of it was not enough, CNN confirmed that flight tickets were 24% more expensive in May 2021 than a year earlier.
While you can get scholarships and grants for school related expenses, what you are supposed to do to save money on flights home?
In the next five minutes, learn all about how to save on flight bookings and get cheap airfare as an international student.
Choose budget airlines
For a round-trip from New York to Medellin, Columbia, American Airlines charge $455. Spirit Airlines, a budget airline, charges $337 for the same. Let’s consider some budget airlines to see what they offer.
- Spirit Airlines offers up to 40% lower prices than the average ticket price. However, you can take only one personal item onboard. Any more and you pay for it.
- Frontier Airlines ticket prices begin at $30 for a round trip. The airlines offer a reduced baggage fee of $15. Furthermore, you can enroll on the EarlyReturns Mileage program and receive rewards including priority boarding, car rentals, and hotel stays.
- Southwest Airlines not only offers cheaper prices, but two free checked bags as well. You can complete the boarding process on the go on the free Passbook mobile app. The airlines offer travel deals on resorts and hotels as well.
However, budget airlines cut costs on in-flight amenities and entertainment, so never expect in-flight hot meals, a TV set on the back of the seat, or more legroom with cheap airfare.
Compare the ticket prices using third-party sites
Imagine the hassle of opening five tabs to compare the ticket prices of five airlines, just to get cheap airfare. Furthermore, the more you search, the higher the prices go (Hint: it’s about the cookies. We’ll talk about it later).
Try booking through a third-party price comparing site to get cheap airfare. Compare ticket prices from different airlines and book what you want. Travel search engines use a price predictor algorithm. The algorithm analyzes price trends in the past to predict whether the ticket prices will hike, decrease, or remain the same.
Examples of third-party sites include Google Flights, Skyscanner.com, and Kayak.
Choose a connecting flight
- You can save up to 5% on ticket prices if you choose to fly one-stop instead of direct.
- If you change to a two-stop ticket, you will save an additional 2%.
- You save an average of 6% on the ticket price if your layover is over 12 hours.
Why are connecting flights cheaper than direct flights? Traveling on a connecting flight increases your traveling time; thanks to the layover time, security lines, and changing aircraft. Thus, airlines keep the prices cheaper for connecting flights.
In the final week before departure, flight ticket prices skyrocket. The reason is the simple math of supply and demand. You should always book early when possible to get cheap airfare.
However, how early should you book? As per a 2021 survey by CheapAir.com, you should buy tickets 64 days before the departure date. However, you don’t have to log in exactly 64 days before departure to get the best rate. Anywhere between three months to 30 days is fine.
If you book early, you can get better seats for cheaper prices as well. Wouldn’t it be great to book a seat at the front of the cabin at the same price for the seat next to the toilet?
Opt for price alerts
You cannot sit in front of your laptop or check your phone 24X7 to see when the ticket prices decrease just to get cheap airfare. You can, however, set up a price alert to monitor prices and receive email notifications when the price drops.
You will receive emails on price deals as well, and you will be notified when the deals will expire.
You can set up price alerts on third-party sites including Google Flights, Airfare Watchdog, and Kayak. Google Flights also offers flight trends in graph formats.
Be flexible on when you travel
Flight ticket prices stay on the cheaper side on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. However, prices hike on Mondays and Fridays. Do your best to book flights during midweek instead of on the weekends to give yourself the best chance of securing cheap airfare.
Furthermore, airlines offer cheaper prices on the day of actual holidays. Thus, booking a ticket for 25th December will offer you a cheaper price rather than booking for five days earlier than that.
Opt for the calendar view booking system. With the system, you can check prices for the entire week instead of the particular day you want to travel on.
Use credit cards
Credit cards including Chase Sapphire Reserve, Amex Business Platinum Card, and Amex Platinum Card offer 5x points on airfare. You can use the points to book future flight tickets. All you need to do is book tickets on the airlines’ official website.
Delta Sky Miles Gold Business American Express Card and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card allow you to carry free checked bags as well.
Want to upgrade seats? Choose Amex Business Platinum Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
Search on incognito mode
You searched for a flight ticket from New Delhi to New York. You closed the window without booking. The next time you searched for the ticket, you see the price has increased.
Incognito mode prevents the website to see what you previously searched for. It also keeps your identity and location hidden, so you will see the average price and not a hiked one.
Choose a red-eye flight
Red-eye flights are cheaper than other flights. Why? Red-eye flights fly after 9:00 P.M. and arrive at the destination before 6:00 A.M. You travel during the time when you would otherwise be asleep. If you can deal with the odd hours, it’s a great way to get cheap airfare.
Passengers who cannot sleep on a flight shy away from booking a red-eyes, so airlines offer cheaper prices on red-eye flights than flights operating on the day.
For a one-way flight from Kolkata to Las Vegas, you pay over $800. If you fly on a red-eye flight on the same route, you can pay as low as $570.
Book tickets using travel agents for students
Student travel agencies offer deals on flight tickets, accommodation, and travel packages. The travel agencies partner with airlines to offer these exclusive discounts, which add up to cheap airfare for you.
You can save up to 30% of the ticket price, and the travel agencies offer promo codes that help you save up to $50 based on the criteria as well.
StudentUniverse is one such agency that offers deals to students aged 18 to 25.
Planning and research is the key
Airlines will never show you how to fly cheaper. You need to research for yourself. Compare the prices on third-party websites, book early, and maybe opt for a credit card. A little planning and research will help you save on flight bookings.
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