Thistles and Coos is committed to bringing you travel information that is relevant and relatable. We use our own personal experiences to create applicable advice and stories.
Before flying out last year, a text comes up on the phone from our airline, “Please contact us. Your flight has been cancelled.” We were flying out in two days!
Thinking it was a scam, we called the airline. They apologize over and over: the flight IS cancelled for engine issues and they rerouted us. (cue Natalie's deafening scream into the phone that pierced a hole in the universe.)
For the next 3 hours, there was yelling, cussing, and then in the end, lots of apologizing for our temper tantrums. We scrambled and some creative negotiating began.
Yes, plans changed, the flight had more layovers, but in the end, we were still going to the U.K. Two extra days in London? Sure, why not.. Being willing to make changes to our schedule worked in our favor since our end goal was to travel.
One of the things people look for when shopping for just about anything is value for their money. Looking for an airline should be no different. When it comes to planning your travels, what draws you to one airline over the next? Is it price, convenience, comfort, customer service, or maybe it’s the miles you earn?
Techniques Choosing Your Ideal Flight
We all have Business Class envy. Most times, this is not an option. With that in mind, how can you make economy bearable?
Look at the seating chart and choose an aisle seat, an exit row seat, or a front row seat near the divider. These seats tend to have more leg room.
Secondly, be prepared to get up and walk around during the long flight.
Thirdly, try to keep the floor area in front of you open to stretch out your legs.
Do you compare prices/flight times? Best time to look at flight prices is on a Tuesday six weeks before you want to depart.
One option is to sign up with various flight notification websites. Airfarewatchdog is an example of one such websites. First register your email and then put in your flight preferences. You will be notified when flight fares are at their best/lowest prices.
A second option is to check off-season flights for the area you want to travel. A flight to London is cheaper in the winter than during the summer months. A side note: if you book your flight in economy, when you get to the airport, ask for an upgrade. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Be sure to read all the fine print carefully when booking your flights.
Contact the airline directly.
If you have to cancel or make a change, you may be out of luck. We had great luck with the airline customer service when our flight was cancelled.
They really worked with us when they had no control over the flight cancellation. Remember, being nice works both ways.. You won’t always get your way if you are acting like Cruella Deville (except for that one time..).
One great incentive for saving money on flights is to have a card that earns miles: use your credit card for purchases and you earn “miles”. The more you spend, the more miles you earn.
Some credit cards have a one to one ratio, spend $1.00 on a purchase, earn 1 mile and some offer triple the mile points to every dollar spent.
Let’s say you have a British Airways credit card. Their reward mile system, called Avios, is not only offered with their airline but you can use Avios on American Airlines and Aer Lingus.
American Airlines honors Avios and if you have enough miles (around 35,000), you can get a one way flight for $5.00 + taxes and fees from Nashville to London? More money in my pocket to splurge in Europe?
We used our Avios on an Aer Lingus business class flight from Boston to Dublin and we ONLY spent $115.00. We saved several thousands of dollars doing this.
If it is an option, it’s a great way to fly. Get on the flight and you land in your city. If you have multiple connecting flights, make the most of your layover.
When we were flying to Dublin, we had a seven hour layover in Boston. We hopped on the tram and in about 10 minutes we were walking on The Freedom Trail. We had time to sight see and have lunch on the wharf.
IF you can’t leave the airport… then walk. Keep moving… or do what we do… go sit and get a Guinness!! They are full of iron. *smile*
Think: world at your fingertips...many websites... many options. Here are some favorites:
Sky Scanner: You can do broad month searches on all airlines and it automatically searches the best and lowest fares.
This is great when your search is generic: Start with where you are going: Austria. Begin a one-way search with “departure”: USA.. “arrival”: Austria. Then the search will narrow your options. The cheapest are located at the top of the list. Choose a city you want to fly out of (i.e. Boston or NYC.. and land in Vienna or Innsbruck). It will then pinpoint the fastest, cheapest flights and give you options for your trip.
Kayak: This is a favorite for many for being quick and user friendly, Kayak compiles airline choices and narrows down from the lowest to highest prices. A monthly calendar is available to help chose the lowest fare available and work that into travel plans.
Seat Guru: Helpful website that has seat maps and you can see where you want your seat on the flight. Near the bulkhead? Bathroom? Noisy galley? It labels the Best, Fair, and Worst seats to choose on your particular plane.
*When hunting for your flight, try one-way searches. Sometimes you can get a better deal flying out of one city and flying back in to another one.
In Europe, know that there are budget airlines to fly from country to country. While in London, wanna go to Dublin for the day?
Fly cheap! Our Austrian friend wanted us to fly to Paris while visiting her and it was only going to cost around $20.00.
This airline, awarded the Best Short-Haul airline, is known for their low-cost flights and their status for being on time, but make sure you read the rules. Only ONE carry on or pay more.
Known as Europe’s Biggest Airline (4th in the world), this airline has never had an accident. This is a great airline for keeping their ticket prices competitive and some of the lowest you will find.
Low-cost airline flies out of 65 European airports. We flew on this airline a few times within the UK. Smaller airline. Not too crowded.
*When on airline websites, look for airline specials that they may be running.
We did this once and were able to get 2 free nights in London and were upgraded to premium economy seating for the price of an economy ticket.
Research. Take notes. Compare. When you find the flight you want, hit that button and BOOK IT!
Comment and share your favorite airlines. Did they go out of their way for you?
Tell your money-saving story.