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My husband and I live half way across the country from all of our family. When we got married we decided we really wanted to live by the beach, so we moved to Florida and our family is in Oklahoma. When we made the decision to make the move, we knew that we would try to get back to Oklahoma as often as possible (which isn’t often enough) and I really didn’t want to miss Christmas at home with our families. It is already hard enough missing Thanksgiving and birthdays, I knew Christmas was something I did not want to give up.
In 2017, Luke and I spent $838.20 and this year in 2018 we got both our tickets for $487.20 a whopping difference of $351. Traveling from the Jacksonville airport to the Tulsa, Oklahoma airport is already a bit pricier than we like and we were completely expecting to spend nearly $900 on flights home for the holidays – but without even knowing it, I think we found a way to beat the high price flight system.
The first step in our process this year was downloading the app Hopper. If you don’t have it – you should definitely get it. You input your travel dates and locations and it watches the flight prices for you to let you know when you should wait and when you should book.
Luke and I always fly to Oklahoma separately because I have more flexibility in my job and so I go to get a little extra time in with my family and he joins us a little later. Then we fly back together. Buying tickets like that can be tricky, trying to get the same flight back but not the same starting itinerary – so that always seemed to increase our prices a little bit. So, I was tracking our flights and it was about the beginning of October when prices were getting to the point of their lowest and Hopper was suggesting we consider booking.
Here is where we went crazy and did something we never had done before and it paid off big time! Instead of buying round trip tickets we decided to split everything up and we bought one way tickets there and one way tickets back. This allowed us to wait and wait and wait until the absolute best deal on each flight. For example: When Hopper told me that my December 15th flight was at its lowest, I wanted to book it – but the returning flight on December 31st wasn’t at its lowest, so if I wanted to book a round trip, I was still forced to raise my flight price because of the returning date.
So, instead I just bought the December 15th flight one way and waited until the December 31st flight we needed dropped in price too. Same with Luke’s flight home, we didn’t book it at the same time as the others because Hopper told us to wait. When we finally booked his flight – we were shocked at the deal we got.
Also, we found that changing to one way rather than round trip almost automatically dropped the price of the tickets pretty significantly. After discovering this, I don’t know if we will ever book round trip again.
The one thing when booking flights this way (that also really helped us cut costs and get the lowest possible price) was not caring about which airline we were on. Different airlines offer different prices depending on the day, time, etc. We aren’t super set on one particular airline (we have our favorites, but if it’s getting us to the same place, we aren’t super picky, especially if we are saving money that can go toward gifts during the holidays). So, I am flying Delta to Oklahoma and Luke is flying American to Oklahoma and we are both flying United back. Doing one way trips allows you to switch between airlines to get the best deals. It also allows you to have more options on your returning flight time. If you try to stay on the same airline for both trips you have only those flights to choose from – we opened up the pot and could literally choose what we wanted best on cost and time.
One thing I am also super picky about is getting to where I want to be as early as possible – I usually always try to get the earliest flight out no matter what airline, so I like having that flexible mindset and not caring too much about what airline it is. (We do have a few we avoid though)
So, we were super happy when we had all of our flights booked at our ideal times and dates and cut the cost nearly in half from last year. MIND BLOWN. Now I can feel less guilty when I spend money on more Christmas gifts or when I treat myself to something nice.
*Last tip before I get off here. We ACTUALLY spent $0 on our flights – because all of the points that I save from my Credit Card purchases throughout the year completely covered us both (and still have more points). I know there are a lot of differing opinions about Credit Card use, but Luke and I have really loved our system and we are responsible while also saving up enough points to cover the expensive plane costs home! I will eventually write a blog post about what credit card I use for business and what personal card we have and how we manage it.