We've all heard stories of killer airfare deals, but unless you work for an airline, it can be tricky to fly for little or nothing. Airfares can be so unpredictable.
This year, I happened upon a Frontier Airline deal and my family of four flew round trip from Salt Lake City to Orlando for about $75 each. We bought four tickets for the price of one!
I've since learned that this was not an isolated sale at Frontier Airlines. They offer killer deals like this regularly – you just have to be ready when it happens.
Here's how we did it.
Sign up for the email list
Our sale for 99% off flights to select Florida cities lasted just two days, and I just happened to see it early on Frontier's website when I was shopping flights for another trip. Now I'm on Frontier's email list and the sales come to me. They happen regularly, but are for a limited time, limited cities, and limited dates for discounts of up to 99% off the base price for the flight.
Sign up for Frontier's email list at www.flyfrontier.com. Click on the Ways to Save tab, then Sign Up and Save.
What does 99% off mean?
When you hear 99% off, it may sound like you're getting an almost-free flight. It's a little more than that.
What you get is 99% off the base price. You will still pay taxes and fees. You will also pay extra for luggage, seat assignments, drinks and the ability to change or refund your ticket. To pay about $75 per person, we had to waive nearly all of the optional conveniences.
Related: 8 Tips for Packing Light
Savvy travelers are always watching for a good deal, and seats will sell fast once the sale goes live. On this trip, we lost both our first choice flight to Orlando and our first choice hotel because we waited a few hours to decide. When you see a deal that fits your family's budget, schedule and interests, pounce on it.
You get what you pay for
My kids were a little put out when they found out that there is no in-flight entertainment and no complimentary soda on Frontier Airlines. Frontier is a no-frills budget brand. The base price includes your seat and space to store one personal item under the seat in front of you. When the drink cart comes by, ask for water unless you're willing to pay for soda or alcohol.
Other than that, I did not find Frontier to be any less comfortable than more expensive carriers like Delta or United. Our Frontier planes were fairly new and the seats and legroom weren't much different than any other economy seat. The crew was just as friendly as on other airlines.
Your destinations and dates will be limited. You can assume that the airline is selling seats for less popular dates and destinations that might otherwise be empty. But… if flights are cheap, then hotels and activities at the destination might also be offering off-peak pricing. It's a great time to go!
That's what we found in Orlando. Hurricane Irma had struck Florida a couple of weeks earlier and fall is not peak season in Orlando anyway. The sale was for select Florida cities in the fall on Mondays-Wednesdays. Our fall break was a Thursday-Sunday in October. We flew in on Wednesday and flew out on Monday.
Frontier charges extra for checked bags and carry-on luggage in the overhead bins. At the time of our flight, it was $25 per checked bag and $35 per carry-on. We minimized this expense by paying for just one checked bag. We packed everything for all four of us in one large suitcase and four small backpacks.
Don't pay for seat assignments
When you book the sale price, Frontier will strongly encourage you to pay extra to select your seats. They say that they will do their best to seat your party together, but it isn't guaranteed.
We took our chances. My kids are ages 10 and 13 – old enough to sit by themselves on a flight if they have to. We were not only seated together every time, we were assigned premium first row seats on our flight to Florida.
If our children were little, I might have paid extra so I didn't have to worry about our seat assignments. However, I made sure to check in online 24 hours in advance and being separated wasn't a problem on our flights.
There are great deals to be had on Frontier Airlines if you're watching for them! Keep a little cash in your travel fund and be ready to pounce when the right one comes along. Happy travels!