KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's almost time for the summer travel surge, and people are hunting for cheap flight deals.
Airfares were up nearly 18% in March compared to the same time last year, far outpacing the rate of inflation.
But did you know you can save some serious money by purchasing your ticket at the airport versus booking online?
I recently posted a video on Facebook about how I've saved hundreds of dollars on plane tickets for my family. Now, I'm sharing how I did it.
WHAT WE FOUND
Yes, you can save money by purchasing your ticket at the counter, but it depends on the airline. According to travel experts, this tip only applies to ultra-low-cost airlines that charge online booking fees. At McGhee Tyson Airport, that would be Allegiant and Frontier Airlines.
Allegiant Air charges its customers an Electronic Carrier Usage Charge if they book a flight online. According to an airline representative, "Tickets booked online or purchased over the phone are subject to an electronic carrier usage charge of up to $22 per flight segment."
That is $44 per person for one round-trip ticket.
So, I took the information straight to the ticket counter where a representative helped me book a flight for my family from Knoxville to Phoenix.
Online, the total was $1,568 for four roundtrip tickets. But at the ticket counter, the total came to $1,300. That's a savings of $268!
RELATED: Yes, you can save money by buying an airline ticket at the airport, but it depends on the airline
TIPS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU HEAD TO THE AIRPORT:
1) When it comes to other airlines, like Delta, United and Southwest, they do not charge online booking fees, so it’s usually cheaper to buy their tickets online.
2) Know when to go. Ticket counters at McGhee Tyson are not open 24/7. Check Allegiant or Frontier's flight schedule online before you show up.
3) Go at the right time. I've tried all times of day and found the fewest crowds in the late afternoon or early evening. If you show up about 45 minutes before the current flight takes off, lines are shorter because agents aren't as busy checking-in customers.
I've booked four trips directly at McGhee Tyson using this method and have saved about $1,000 so far. I'll keep you posted on my next trip!