Here’s how to save big next time you book a flight

Published: Updated:
Plane lifts off for flight. Photo via CBS News.
Plane lifts off for flight. Photo via CBS News.

Traveling with a family can be a lot of work. But getting the best price on your airline tickets, shouldn’t be.

Carla Mann of Wisconsin calls the process of planning a trip a little stressful.

“A lot of preparation so that we save some money,” Mann said.

For her family, every dollar counts. Mann says now that her daughter is over two years old, she’s more expensive to fly.

Electronic Fees

For certain airlines, buying your airline tickets in person at the counter can save a family of four up to $184 roundtrip.

Budget airlines like Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant have a charge if you book online, and different airlines call it different things. The fee is applied to each ticket, each way or ‘segment.’

At Frontier, the carrier interface charge is up to $21.

Spirit’s passenger usage fee is up to $22.99.

Allegiant’s electronic carrier usage charge it’s up to $18.

However, ticket counters are not always open.

An Allegiant spokesperson says ticket purchase at the Punta Gorda Airport, PGD, is available one hour after each scheduled departure, with additional specific hours by airport listed here.

Frontier’s ticket counters at Southwest Florida International Airport, RSW, are open two hours prior to the scheduled departure of a Frontier flight and close 45 minutes prior to scheduled departure.

Spirit’s website says the best times to purchase a ticket at the airport are during the preferred ticketing hours. They add that even during the preferred ticketing hours, though they can’t guarantee that there won’t be a long wait due to the unpredictable nature of the airport. At RSW, it’s daily from 1:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. No cash accepted.

*Times may change after this publication, so it’s best to confirm with the airline directly.

Pricing Tools

If the airline you fly doesn’t have this fee and you still want to save, consider pricing tools.

Some of Nerdwallet’s picks include Hopper, Kayak and Google Flights. With these tools, consumers can experiment with flight times, days, and even location. Price alerts and notifications can also be set.

Nerdwallet’s Kimberly Palmer says it’s usually cheapest to buy a plane ticket on Sunday, and that Friday is the most expensive day to book. In terms of the day a person actually flies, it’s usually cheapest on a Wednesday, followed by Thursday and Tuesday.

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