It’s another summer of high fares and packed planes for air travelers. But there are five things you can do to save time and money at the airport- before you book that summer vacation.
1. Sign up for fare alerts from your favorite airlines. Follow the airline that you might fly on Twitter and see if there’s a sale for the route that you’re going to be on.
2. While you're booking, use up those frequent flier miles. Airlines like Delta and United are moving from a distanced-based to a price-based model, meaning miles will soon be calculated on how much you spend, not how far you go.
3. Prepare ahead for extra fees. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine says you're going to be nickled-and-dimed for everything from checking a bag to buying food on the flight to getting a better seat. Save some cash by by bringing a snack and pack a carry-on instead of checking. If you want a good seat, check into your flight exactly one day, to the minute, before takeoff.
4. If you plan to travel abroad, consider applying for Global Entry: a government program similar to Precheck. Both let you go through the TSA screening line faster, but Global Entry lets you go through the customs line faster as well. It costs $100 for five years, but some airlines and credit card companies will pay for it for you. Examples: American Express Platinum and United Airlines Global Services, Premier 1K and Premier Platinum members.
5. Look for more airlines and flight options at Reagan National Airport. The American/U.S. Airways merger will mean more open slots for other airlines. Look for more Southwest, Jet Blue and Virgin America flights at DCA in the coming months, which could mean cheaper fares.