Thanks to a partnership with the travel company KAYAK, Wanderu now provides passengers the opportunity to book flights on more than 9,000 routes around the world. That means you can compare bus, train and plane tickets alongside each other — in the same search results — to determine which option best fits your budget and schedule.
Maybe you’re wondering whether it’s cheaper to fly or take the train from New York to Washington, D.C. Perhaps you’re planning a cross-country adventure, and want to see all your travel options at once. Whatever the journey, Wanderu is here to help you find the very best deal.
And if you’re taking a multi-city trip, Wanderu is one of the only places that allows you to book different modes of transportation on the same platform. For instance, you could book a flight to Munich, a bus to Zurich, a train to Paris and a flight from Paris back home, all on one website. For every leg of your vacation, determine whether a bus, train or plane makes the most sense for your trip.
It’s never been easier to find the cheapest option to get where you’re going.
There are a number of resources you can use to purchase airplane tickets. Traditionally, travelers would book tickets through travel agencies — private businesses that would plan out and schedule an entire trip either in-person or over the phone. Today, while travel agencies still exist, most individuals book flights online.
If searching online, there are different kinds of websites from which you can buy plane tickets. You can book a flight directly from the airline’s website (such as Delta, United or Lufthansa), but by doing so you’re limited to the routes and destinations that airline covers, meaning you’ll have fewer options.
Alternatively, you can book tickets from a third-party seller (such as Wanderu, Kayak or Expedia), which aggregates flights from a variety of different airlines so that you can find every available option for a destination. By comparing flights across airlines, you’re also able to sort them by price to find the cheapest possible flight, by duration, by whether the flight is direct or has a layover, and assorted other factors. Third-party vendors also often sell related travel services, such as hotel rooms and rental cars, so that you can book every piece of your trip in one convenient location.
Wanderu, specifically, has an advantage over other third-party sellers because it allows you to find the cheapest possible trip across multiple modes of transportation. For instance, that means if you were planning a trip to Europe, you could learn that the cheapest possible itinerary would be to fly into Munich, take a bus to a Geneva, take a train to Paris, and then fly out of Paris — all in one easy search.
By booking flights online, you can more easily compare different dates and times to make sure you get the best price for your schedule. By booking from a third-party vendor, you have the added advantage of being able to compare different airlines to see which offer the best deal, the most convenient layover, or the fastest travel time.
Booking a plane ticket in-person or over the phone puts you at a natural disadvantage, because you’re unable to see the various options laid out before you at once.
Plane tickets can vary in price depending on a number of factors, such as demand for the route, number of remaining seats, total distance and number of layovers, etc. When you choose to travel can also have a major influence on flight prices. For instance, traveling on weekends tends to be more expensive than traveling on weekdays, and travel over holidays is especially expensive as flights are in high demand. Together, these factors make up the base fare of a plane ticket.
But there are additional costs rolled into a flight that must be considered. On top of the base fare, passengers are subject to taxes and airport fees, as well as a fuel surcharge. If your flight includes a meal, then food can also be factored into the price of the ticket, as well as the type of seat you select (First Class vs. Business Class vs. Economy), and baggage (most airlines now charge for checked baggage, unless you’re traveling internationally or hold status with the airline’s loyalty program).
There are a number of different strategies you can employ to find cheap flights:
1) Book your ticket through a third-party vendor, such as Wanderu. Booking through an airline’s website can be more convenient, but deprives you of the chance to compare different airlines against each other to see which one offers the best deal.
2) Be flexible in your dates and times. If you are able to build some flexibility in your schedule, you may be able to toy around with dates and find a better price if you, for instance, leave a day sooner or return a day later.
3) Travel in the off-season. Beyond being flexible with your dates, you can save yourself a boatload on both plane tickets and accomodations by planning to visit a destination in the off season (or, alternatively, in the “shoulder season” between the peak and off seasons).
4) Sacrifice convenience. If you’re willing to endure multiple layovers, a stop-over, a red eye or otherwise inconvenience yourself, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to score a better deal on tickets.
5) Don’t wait. Flight fares are notorious for their volatility. Once you find a price you’re comfortable with, waiting to book for even an hour can result in a substantial increase. Remember that almost every airline offers free cancellation for the first 24 hours, so don’t be afraid to pull the trigger and backtrack later if need be.
According to a study by CheapAir.com that looked at more than 917 million fares, the best time to buy a plane ticket is between 4 months and 3 weeks in advance of when you plan to fly (so, essentially, between 115 and 21 days out). Within that window is when you’re most likely to find the very cheapest fares on any given route.
Seasonality also plays a prominent role in when you should book. According to the same study, here’s how early you should plan to purchase for each season: 84 days in advance for spring, 99 days in advance for summer, 69 days in advance for fall and 94 days in advance for winter.
For the first 24 hours after booking a flight, most airlines will allow you to make changes to your reservation for free. After that window, however, you will likely have to pay a fee between $50 and $150 (depending on the airline) to change your ticket, along with the additional cost of the new ticket (if the new flight costs more than the original).
There are, however a few notable exceptions — foremost among them, Southwest Airlines. Southwest takes pride in its No Change Fee policy. As they say on Southwest.com, “We understand plans change, so we don’t charge a fee to change your mind. If you’d like to change a flight itinerary, you’ll just pay for any fare difference.”
Most airlines do not offer an option to change your ticket online, and require that you call their customer service department directly.
Within 24 hours of booking a flight, you are free to cancel your flight, no questions asked. After that, the cost of cancelling varies widely between airlines, but tends to be between $125 and $500. Some airlines offer add-ons, such as travel insurance, for a small fee, which allow you to cancel your ticket if it falls under a series of “covered” circumstances (such as a medical emergency, jury duty, work obligations, etc.). Other airlines — such as JetBlue, Delta, United — sell refundable tickets, though these tickets tend to cost significantly more than nonrefundable tickets.
If you have not purchased travel insurance or a refundable ticket, but unexpected circumstances arise so that you’re no longer able to make your original flight reservation, we recommend calling customer support for the airline and pleading your case anyway. Depending on the situation, they may be able to work with you to get a partial refund, future flight credit or some other form of compensation.
The amount of baggage you can take on a flight varies widely based on a number of different factors. Those factors include the type of ticket purchased (First Class vs. Economy), your status within the airline’s loyalty program, the dimensions of your bags and the final destination.
Most carriers allow you to bring one personal item, such as a backpack or purse, that can fit under the seat in front of you. While many airlines still include one carry-on item (within certain dimensions) to place in the overhead bin, some such as Allegiant and Frontier now require you to pay for a carry-on item as well.
Almost all airlines now charge for checked baggage, with prices often increasing for every additional bag. The first checked bag typically costs around $30. A notable exception is Southwest Airlines, which allots passengers two free checked bags per person. Some international flights also include a free checked bag or two built into the ticket price.
Most airlines divide their seating into three distinct classes, although smaller regional planes may only have one or two. The different types of seats are as follows:
First Class is typically situated near the front of the plane, and has the most comfortable seats on the plane. (These seats are also the most expensive.) First Class often includes free food and beverages, along with other perks.
Business Class sits between First Class and Economy, with more comfortable seats and more legroom than the latter. This section is so-named because it’s often the class of ticket purchased by business travelers.
Economy Class (aka “Travel Class” or “Coach Class”) is the cheapest type of seat. Some airlines include free beverages for Economy (excluding alcohol), and snacks such as peanuts or pretzels.
While discounts on plane tickets are uncommon, every so often an airline might run a promotion. For instance, in 2018, British Airways had a campaign in which two kids under age 12 per family were allowed to fly free domestically. Otherwise, discounts are rare. Most airlines allow children under 2 years old to ride on an adult’s lap, but after that children require a full fare.
A couple of airlines also offer senior discounts on specific routes (often around 10% off). For instance, United has occasional discounted fares for passengers age 65 and older. For airlines that do have senior discounts, you usually have to call and book the ticket over the phone in order to get the discounted rate.
Sometimes airlines also offer perks to those in the military and their families. These benefits can range from a 5% discount on airfare, to free checked bags, to free access to airline lounges.