After enduring record-breaking winter storms, nor’easters, and bomb cyclones over the past several months, Americans are more ready than ever to go on summer vacation. To make sure you’re taking advantage of all the best flight deals on Southwest (LUV), Spirit (SAVE), and JetBlue (JBLU), Yahoo Finance tapped Joanie Demer, co-founder of The Krazy Coupon Lady for her popular money-saving airline hacks.
One of the best ways to save on Southwest is to look for price drops after you purchase your ticket, says Demer. So it pays to keep an eye out on the fare by setting an alert by email or app, as Southwest will refund you in whatever form of payment you used for the original booking. If you purchased your tickets online, go to “Change Reservation” in your account and follow the prompts to the lower fare to get the difference automatically refunded. And if you made the reservation by phone, you can call their agents to secure your refund.
As for when to book, the best time of week to snag the lowest fares is Tuesdays around 3 p.m. because that’s when Southwest’s “Click N Save” emails go out each week. Deals typically run out by Thursday so look out for their special fares as soon as they’re released.
The general boarding process for Southwest flights is notoriously unpleasant as passengers are not assigned seats at the time you book, unless they’ve paid up to $50 each way for an upgrade. To avoid paying the fee and still not end up the dreaded C group that’ll surely result in a middle seat, Demer says you need to be religious about logging in exactly 24 hours before your flight takes off. So set your alarm and be among the first to check in so you can increase your chance of getting an aisle or window seat.
“When you book on Spirit keep in mind that it’s the only deal you’re going to get until you reach your destination,” says Demer. Popular for their rock-bottom prices, the fares you’ll find on Spirit are hard to beat. But Demer reminds travelers will be charged for all the extras.
But as long as you expect to be nickel-and-dimed all along the way, you can work around it to keep the costs as low as possible. Did you know the cheapest way to buy your ticket is to buy it at the airport? But it probably doesn’t make any sense for most travelers to make the extra trip to the airport to save about 20 bucks, so booking online is likely your best option.
“Rely on them for nothing, except getting for getting from point A to point B,” says Demer. When flying this bare-bones airline, do as much as you can at home before you leave for the airport. This includes checking into your flight, printing your boarding passes, or checking in extra luggage because there are tiered rates. Think of it this way: the closer you get to the plane, the more you’ll have to pay.
And save some extra space in your carry-on to BYO-everything: including snacks, drinks, and entertainment. Instead of paying $5 inflight for a small bag of goldfish , pay the same price for a full-size bag at the grocery store and bring it with you. For drinks, Demer recommends freezing your favorites from home as they’re allowed through security. And don’t forget to download your movies, shows, and books to your devices as there will be no entertainment provided. Unless you’re able to sleep through the entire flight, having no inflight entertainment could drive you to buy their $28 liquor/snack party pack.
TrueBlue travelers can expect to pay more for their flights with free snacks, free wifi, more legroom in coach, and a vast selection of inflight movies and TV shows. But there are still some money-saving opportunities that can sweeten the deal. The absolute best time of year to book is during one of their flash winter sales, promoted on JetBlue’s social channels, where you can find one-way flights under $50. Since these sales only last for a few days so it’s important to be on the lookout. If you want to fly Blue but missed the sale, you can snag the best fares directly on JetBlue’s website. If you see a better deal elsewhere, JetBlue guarantees a $100 credit.
Unlock even more reward points by connecting your Lyft and JetBlue accounts. If you’re new to the ride-sharing service, you’ll get a signup bonus of up to 750 TrueBlue and $15 off your first Lyft ride. If you’re not new to the service, you can still earn 30 points each time you use Lyft to and from the airport. It’s always free to sign up for these programs and it only takes a minute to set up, so there’s nothing to lose.