Top 10 Flying tips

Check the flight price for your little one

Assume your baby is flying free under 2? Double check. Oksana found she was expected to pay far more than she had imagined on one recent flight: “you may be surprised that some airlines force you to pay up to 75% for a ticket without a seat. This happened with me and my one-and-a-half year old son. In this case you don’t save money! Buy a normal ticket. At least you will get extra space – that is really valuable.”

How to know when to use Rapid Rewards

To determine if using Rapid Rewards is a good idea, you should:

  • Find the cash price of the ticket
  • Subtract the award fees from that price (usually $5.60)
  • Divide that number by the required amount of Rapid Rewards
  • Multiple that number 100
  • If that figure is below 1.3, you may not want to use your points. To get an even more accurate figure, you can also subtract the value of the Rapid Rewards you would have earned on your flight for Step 2. For example, if you found a $100 cash fare for a one-way ticket you’d subtract $5.60 + however much you value the Rapid Rewards you’d earn. Southwest has a shopping portal and a dining portal. Both of these allow you to earn extra Southwest points when you shop at certain stores or visit certain establishments. Read more about how to maximize earnings with the shopping portal here. You can also earn Southwest Rapid Rewards when you stay at certain hotel partners, book rental cars,  and sign-up for utility plans in certain states.

Lighten your baggage weight

If you are a light packer then great, move on to the next flying tip, this one is for those who struggle to pack light. If you just managed to stuff everything you own into your luggage and find out at the check in desk that it weighs more than the allowance, a great travel tip is to take out some clothing, wear the extra layers and stuff your pockets (as long as there are no liquids or sharp objects).

If you know when and where you're going, don't wait to book

Rarely ever do airline tickets get cheaper as your departure date approaches, especially if you need to fly on a certain date. Budget airlines typically offer low rates as a baseline price, and as these tickets sell, the remaining ones increase in cost. This is very typical in Europe and Australia. If you know when and where you're going, don't wait on an unknown sale. More often than not, your biggest savings come from booking far ahead when you can.

Bring an internet ready device

If travelling for a long time, take your own device that can pick up wifi, like a smartphone or tablet. We didn’t do this because we didn’t want to bring an expensive item backpacking, but it turned out to be incredibly expensive to use the internet, or impossible to find any. Yet there is free wifi in places all around the world, and you quickly realise how often you need to tap in to things like bank accounts or travel bookings. More: 10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs Eileen Ogg, Skyscanner Artworker

Check in early

If you are flying with the family, or holidaying with your extended kin (sharing a villa with your sister and her five kids perhaps?) you’ll be struggling to all sit together if you leave it late to check in. So do this online as soon as check-in it opens. Unless you don’t want to sit anywhere near your sister’s five kids, that is.

Breeze through Airport Security

Some airport tricks to help you skip long queues and be stress free: Pack thoughtfully – Pack your laptop and electronics so that they are easily accessible. Skip the queues – Go to the left of airport security, they tend to have the smaller queues. Grab a bag – Grab a few clear security bags, they are usually free and may come in handy later for packing items such as toiletries or food. Avoid a frisking – If you want to avoid being unnecessarily frisked, remember to remove jewelry and belts.

Sign up for PreCheck, Already

Keep those shoes and belts on, leave the liquids and laptops in your bag, and forgo the full-body scans by getting TSA PreCheck. You could pay $85 for PreCheck itself, or spend $100 for Global Entry, which also confers PreCheck (usually) as well as expedited immigrations and customs access. Several credit cards, including the Capital One Venture and the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, will even refund you the application fee for either program.

Never exchange money in your hotel

Instead, shop around for best rate. Find a credit/debit card that doesn’t charge for purchases abroad, and don’t bother with traveller’s cheques anymore. More: 10 secrets of foreign currency exchange Cat McGloin, Skyscanner PR Assistant

Fly Direct Whenever Possible

Why visit a third airport when you can fly directly to your destination? Easy: Because it’s often cheaper. Sans child, a layover is a small price to pay for the lowest possible fare — assuming you don’t need to be at your destination by any particular time. Once you’ve welcomed a little one into the world, however, you may think differently. Shepherding an infant or toddler through a major airport is no easy feat, and many parents are happy to pay more to avoid doing it more than necessary. My wife and I certainly are. Although we’re more likely to fly direct these days, we’ve managed to keep our airfare spending in check by flying at odd times — the traveler’s version of the early bird discount. On at least one occasion, flying direct and driving to our final destination was cheaper than flying all the way, which would have required a layover before a quick second flight.