10 Ways to Cut the Cost of Airfare

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The airline industry has long suffered from high fuel costs, labor struggles and, lately, mergers. This has translated into years of fare hikes and poor service for passengers, and it’s only expected to get worse.

A study from the GBTA Foundation suggests the price for flights will rise 4.6% domestically and 8.3% for international tickets this year. To offset the jump in prices, here are 10 ways to cut the cost of airfare.

1. Save when the flight is oversold

Airlines often overbook flights in the event a passenger doesn’t show up for the flight; this way flights are always flying at full capacity. But in the event everyone is at the gate and no one canceled, the airline will ask a few passengers to volunteer to fly on another flight later that day, since the original one was oversold. If no one volunteers, usually the last person to check in will be bumped to the next flight.

If you volunteer, expect to get some form of compensation — whether it’s cash or a flight voucher. Depending on what the airline offers, it may be worth hoping on the next flight; the compensation may cover the costs of the ticket price.

2. Talk to the airline

You may resort to online sites to compare prices of fares across various airlines, but don’t forget to contact the airlines directly.

“Airlines like Southwest don't allow their airfare to be posted to third-party sites, so you could overlook a better deal," says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. "Also, buying directly from the airline will reduce the hassle associated with dealing with a third party in cases of flight changes or cancellations.”

3. Book airfare and hotels together

Booking a flight and hotel at the same time can result in significant savings. “A Travelocity study found that you can save up to $525," says Courtney Scott, senior editor at Travelocity. "Plus, these packages are dynamic, so you can choose any flight and hotel combination. They are not pre-packaged — it just means booking at the same time.”