By Amira Francis, Staff Writer
It’s almost Christmas time, and with the comforting allure of cookies and presents beckoning, you’re probably excited to hop on that plane or train and high-tail it out of here. You’ve already purchased your tickets home, right? Well, for those of you who haven’t (and I would be among them, if my parents weren’t such life-savers): you’re not out of luck…yet. There is still some time to redeem your ticket-buying habits and there are still methods you can use to knock down the price. Here’s some advice to ensure that you score the cheapest ride home, and a few tips for buying tickets next holiday season.
Prepare to be uncomfortable: You aren’t going to cut costs by resolving to fly first class, at 1 p.m., from the airport nearest to you. You’re going to have to get ready to tough it out. This means compromising: you’re going to sacrifice some sleep, spend some difficult hours catching the T and transferring to airport shuttles, and devote a good chunk of time scouring the internet for inexpensive flights.
Don’t Count on Sleep: The most inexpensive flights are – guess when! Right smack dab in the awkward hours of the night. Whether you’re waking up at 4 a.m. or staying up until 11 p.m. to catch that dumb plane, you’re going to have to drink your double espresso latte, grit your teeth, and bear it. When you’re searching online, those are the times that you should be looking for.
Dismiss Your Hopes of Buying a Direct Flight: The cheaper flights are the challenging ones. If you could fly straight to your paradise-of-a-home in California, that would be too easy (and expensive). Somewhere along the way, you’re going to have to switch flights and undergo the hassle of sprinting from terminal to terminal in an attempt to catch a close connection.
Compromise on Airport Location: Some of the least expensive flights may be a little ways from your starting point and your ending point. It’s going to take a bit more planning, but it might be cheaper in the long-run if you settle for taking a flight that ends up farther away from your destination. You can then search the web for a train or bus ticket that will take you the extra mile, which leads me to my next point…
Get Ready to Comb the Web: Take your web surfing skills to the next level when looking for a flight. Check all travel and airline sites. Be ready to settle for an airline that you don’t normally take. Look at all options: different dates, different times, different cities – even keep an eye out for buying two one-way tickets instead of a round-trip ticket. When looking for a cheap way home, you can’t afford to be picky. You have to be okay with making this a bit of a research project.
I hope these tips help you hook a ticket home for a refreshing break before second semester. Next holiday season, if you have time, try to book your tickets in advance. That way, you can hopefully get the flights you want for the right price. Safe travels!