We woke up to the second delay of our flight, bumping it back now to two hours after our initial takeoff time. That’s no big deal, as we had a long enough layover between flight legs to accommodate, but it would have been nice to get those two extra hours of sleep.
Flying out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall airport (BWI), we arrived to a much busier airport than we expected. Our shuttle from long-term parking was full and when we arrived, the line for security was seemingly endless.
The line was long, but it moved pretty quickly and the TSA agents were pretty friendly this morning. The only holdup was the three people in front of me set off the metal detector which bottlenecked the process. The first guy was an older gentlemen who left several accessories on before being instructed to remove them one at a time until he passed through successfully. The second lady left her watch on which set it off. The last guy left his phone and keys in his pocket that set it off. No need to remove your shoes, either, as you’re required to walk in tandem with a partner past a K-9 unit that sniffs behind you.
All in all, it only took 20 minutes to get through, but I’m very surprised at how busy this airport is.
If you ask a random person what their biggest obstacle to travel is, I can almost guarantee that they’ll say “cost” is number 1.
The easy thing to do would be to accept the price as stated, save up the required money, and purchase. Or, you can take a few extra steps to see where you can really save money, stretch your dollars further, and gain the ability to travel longer.
As data on the internet becomes more available and integrated, you’ll often find similar prices (if not the exact same) on each site, but it never hurts to explore all of your options. Below are 5 of my favorite search engines that I use every time I’m about to buy a plane ticket
This is my first stop for destination research. The live-map is the best feature for exploring destinations by price – simply plug in your dates and the map will show you current prices for destinations. I do like the desktop version better than the mobile version. Since this is Google, you also get a feed of When To Visit and Discover [what to do] along the side of the screen.
I like this site for two main reasons – for one, you can put a flexible date range of up to +/- 3 days. The second is the site has a graph above the search results showing you an easy to read price comparison chart you can use to see if flying on a different day can bring you more savings.
Kayak and Booking are both companies owned by Booking Holdings, which also purchased Momondo in 2017. You’re likely to see the same flight prices on each of these three sites, but I still check each of them to potentially catch a hidden gem of a deal.
This is the first site that I started browsing flights on. It provides quick price updates and easy comparisons. The first thing you’ll see on their app is a map of the world based on COVID-related restrictions. You can pick your home country and the map will updates to show where allows full entry, restricted entry, or no entry. Tap a country to get more in-depth information.
This is the app I have the most fun on. I don’t know if it’s the simplicity of the app, or the colors, or both. You can choose a flight destination and easily see what time of year gives you the best chance to get cheaper tickets. You can set notifications that will tell you if the prices are likely to continue going down or if you should buy now for the best savings. I used Hopper last year to get super cheap tickets to New Orleans to escape the Mid-Atlantic winter.
BONUS: Scott’s Cheap Flights
For the more flexible traveler, there are subscription-based websites like Scott’s Cheap Flights that will email you whenever they find low cost flights to various destinations around the world. Just recently, I used their mailing list to save money and book a better airline for my next trip. Travel influencer couple, Kara and Nate, recently launched a similar business called FareDrop.
When you are picking your flights, keep in mind the rest of your budget. For instance, you might be able to save $30 on a flight by going down on a Friday instead of a Saturday, but then you’ll have to account for an additional night of lodging and food. Just something to keep in mind when you’re planning your next travels.
Do you use flight search engines or do you book directly with an airline for loyalty points? If you do like to compare prices, what is your go-to search engine?
I don’t keep many notifications turned on for my phone. Between a group chat for work already blowing me up and my desire to limit phone usage, I try not to create reasons to check my phone with dopamine-inducing *dings.* One app I do have notifications on for is Hopper – an easy-to-use, flight and hotel search engine.
I don’t know if I actually turned them on, or if I just never turned them off.
I get a notification that Delta has flights under $300 to San Jose, Costa Rica, which I haven’t seen all year. It has been primarily a battle between American Airlines and Spirit. NerdWallet recently released an article ranking the Best Airlines to Fly During COVID-19, and Delta consistently won out in different categories, saying “it wasn’t even close.” I’ve always enjoyed flying with them, which happened often for annual trips down to Florida from the D.C. area. Atlanta, their headquarters location, was the transfer section for two-leg flights.
This morning, Rachel texts me an article from CNN saying that Delta would resume booking middle seats (the last airline to start doing this again) on flights starting May 1 due to rising demand for flights and confidence in vaccinations.
I haven’t been on a plane since pre-pandemic travel, so I have no way to know how this will affect the look and process of air travel going forward. We will see.