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Step By Step Guide: How To Buy Tickets At The Airport
I drove 30 minutes to the airport, hung around for 30 minutes, and then drove 30 minutes home. Why would I do that? Who wants to go to the airport when they really don’t have to? Well that 90 minutes saved me $160 on my plane tickets so that is why I did it.
Save Money By Purchasing Tickets At The Airport
I have talked about this in the past, how Spirit charges $20 each way to book tickets online. It is a built in fee that most don’t realize is there. And it is not just Spirit Airlines but pretty much all the low cost carriers do it like Allegiant, Frontier etc. I wanted to go into a little more detail and break down my savings and how to do it as painless as possible.
I found some roundtrip flights on Spirit to Orlando for the four of us for $607 all in. I could have booked these with Citi ThankYou points for around 49,000 ThankYou points. But if I drove to the airport to book the tickets I would save $160 ($20 each way per person for 4 people). That reduced the price to $447. That effectively dropped the value of the ThankYou points to under one cent a piece, not a good redemption.
It isn’t that simple though since I had to drive there and park. I parked in short term parking and since I timed it right it only cost me $4 to park. The roundtrip drive was 50 miles in total which at 50 cents per mile cost me $25. So the savings were more like $130. Would I spend 90 minutes to save $130 again? Heck yeah I would! It is kind of like earning $86 an hour. But I did some things that insured my time investment would be minimal.
Guide: How To Buy Tickets At The Airport
I did a few different things to make sure the process was as smooth as possible:
1. Search Your Flights Before Going
First things first, get all of the info you need before going. The airports, the flight times, the cost etc. Write it all down. I witnessed other people trying to buy tickets and the agent was reciting all of the different flights and prices for the day. This wastes their time and your time. Know what you want before you go.
2. Write Down Every Traveler’s Information
The second thing you want to do is write down everyone’s name and birth date. The agent will be inputting this info by hand and by writing it down they will make less mistakes, ask you less questions, and you will save a ton of time. The agent was so excited when I pulled out my paper with everything he needed. If you have bad hand writing them type it up.
3. Know When To Go
This might be the most important tip. You want to time this right. You want to pick a time or day when traffic is light and when where there is a gap in flights. Before heading down I checked Spirit’s traffic for the day. I use flightview and they let you narrow it down to each individual airline. Spirit had a flight going out at 2PM that day and then a gap till 4PM. Everyone for that 2PM flight would be through the lines by 1:30PM and most of the people for the 4PM flight would not show up till 2:30PM or later. So 1:30-2:30 was the perfect window to get to the airport. Traffic is also light that time of day. Also be sure there are still flights happening for the day because if there are not there will be no one at the counter. Don’t just drive to the airport hoping it will work out.
4. Proper Parking
Most people have probably never used short term parking. The set up at DTW is the same as long term parking in the parking structure next to the terminal. You enter in the same place but you veer to the right when going to get your ticket. The short term area is right by the elevators for easy access and charges by the hour versus by the day. So be sure you use the right lot to save yourself some money. If I went into long term parking I would have paid $14 for the day versus $4 for half an hour.
I hope this will help you save some money and time the next time you decide to fly a low cost carrier. If you live within an hour of the airport and multiple people are flying this will usually make sense.
You can also line it up with other times you are flying so you don’t need to make a special trip to the airport. My next flight wasn’t for two weeks and this was the lowest I had seen the flights so I didn’t want to risk waiting. If you have weekends off Saturday or Sunday is a good day for traffic purposes on the road and at the airport. I ended up getting our roundtrip flights for around $120 a person when taking all costs into account. I will take that any day!
Does anyone else do this regularly? Share your tips in the comments.
Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.