By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Air Travel 201: The Tightwad’s Guide to Cheap Flights to Walt Disney World



By Dave Shute

This page is part of the series The Tightwad’s Guide to Walt Disney World

OVERVIEW: AIR TRAVEL 201–THE TIGHTWAD’S GUIDE TO CHEAP FLIGHTS TO WALT DISNEY WORLD

This page contains help for finding cheap flights to Walt Disney World.

It assumes that you know a thing or two about flying.

If not, check out the “Air Travel 101 for Walt Disney World” material that begins here.

If you are an expert on air travel already, or just looking for even more information, a very rich source of advice on air travel and other travel topics can be found in Scott McCartney’s The Wall Street Journal Guide to Power Travel.

AIR TRAVEL 201: THE TIGHTWAD’S GUIDE TO CHEAP FLIGHTS TO WALT DISNEY WORLD

First, ensure whether flying the best choice for you. Air travel deals are becoming much harder to find, as thanks to the recession the airlines continue to take out capacity and raise prices and fees.

If driving is at all possible, price out the cost to you of such a trip—don’t forget en-route hotel costs, if needed. Driving becomes more economical compared to flying the larger your family, as airlines charge by the person…and cars don’t!

  • If you don’t want to put the miles on your car, or fear it may not make the trip, check out car rental options in your community. Many such do not have a mileage charge, but just a daily or weekly rate.
  • However, check their fine print—sometimes such rates don’t apply if you take the car out of state or out of some other defined geography.

Second, decide how much time you want to put into searching for airfare deals. If you put in any time at all—and follow the suggestions below—you will be able to find a reasonable rate.

That said, there’s a huge payoff in terms of money saved to picking the right time of year to go, and the right place for your family to stay. You should spend at least twice as much time working on these issues as you do on airfares.

  • See the thoughts on this page for a start towards these issues.
  • See also the material linked to from this page for finding deals and discounts on your Orlando lodgings

HOW TO FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS TO WALT DISNEY WORLD

There are a couple of keys to getting the best possible flight deals.

Plan ahead. You will find the best deals more than 21-30 days or more before your departure date.

Pick a departure in the low season. In general, flights will be cheaper the same times that Walt Disney World resorts are cheaper. See this for Walt Disney World resort price seasons.

If you can cope with the consequences of your plans changing, buy non-refundable tickets.

  • These tickets are typically much cheaper than refundable tickets.
  • On the other hand, if you have to change your flights, you could spend hundreds more per person in change fees and in new higher fares.

Search for and buy your tickets early in the week, rather than later or over the weekend. Airlines traditionally raise prices on Thursdays, and activate new deals on Mondays.

Book your flight over the web. Airlines typically charge extra for a phone booking.

Be flexible in your departure dates. Prices may vary by 20% between one day and another, or one week or another.

  • You likely will need to spend a Saturday night in Orlando to qualify for the lowest fares, but if you are following this site’s advice on how long to stay that’s not a problem.
  • For most flying, the cheapest tickets will be available for departures on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • One of the best ways to check both what a good deal might look like, and how much different departure days will affect your price, is to check a website that either shows you recent results of searches for many dates, or that creates a forecast of fares for future dates.
  • New travel websites emerge all the time, and the offerings of current ones changes as well, but check at least two of Expedia.com, Bing Travel (Bing incorporates the old FareCast.com), Kayak.com, Farecompare.com, and, if coming from Europe, mobissimo.com.
  • Each of these sites has tools for checking different dates.

Also always check Southwest.com. Southwest does not participate in most of the sites listed above, but almost always has competitive fares—not always the cheapest, but very competitive.

Moreover, Southwest does not charge for checking your bags—which can save your family hundreds of dollars.

Be flexible in your departure airports and connections.

  • Airports just an hour or so away from your closest airport may have much better prices.
  • If you don’t seem to be getting anywhere on pricing, and the airport you are looking at is dominated by one carrier, check connecting flights using other airlines serving that airport. Connecting flights increase the risk of delay, cancellation, and lost bags, and cost you time as well, but you may find a great deal.

Once you have bought your tickets, take advantage of fare-tracking systems like those at Yapta.com. Services like this notify you when a cheaper rate is available. Your airline is unlikely to refund your money, but you may be able to talk it into a credit good for future travel.

Consider using a travel agent. Commissions for airfare have pretty much disappeared, so you will likely get an agent’s attention only if you have them book your entire visit. They can still get a commission from Walt Disney World for the Disney parts of your trip, and may be willing to do your flights as well.

Have tips of your own? Type them into the comment form below!

PUBLISHED SO FAR IN THE TIGHTWAD’S GUIDE TO WALT DISNEY WORLD

PUBLISHED SO FAR IN THE COMFORTABLE GUIDE TO WALT DISNEY WORLD

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9 comments

1 John { 03.30.10 at 12:58 pm }

Thanks for the Yapta mention! It’s great to see others noticing the service that we’re providing to travelers. Hopefully, some of your readers will have some good success tracking for flight refunds/vouchers on Yapta. Thanks again!

2 Dave { 03.30.10 at 2:00 pm }

John, you’re welcome!

3 bucino ulje { 08.08.11 at 2:55 pm }

Of course, what a fantastic website and illuminating posts, I surely will bookmark your website.Best Regards!

4 Tom { 08.01.12 at 9:50 am }

Thanks for your mention of Yapta! They are awesome! I didn’t know them but now I am using them to track 3 flights I have in mind and it’s incredible how much fares vary per day! Great tip!

5 Dave { 08.01.12 at 12:34 pm }

Yeah it’s kind of appalling 🙂

6 Terry { 04.11.13 at 11:18 pm }

In my determination to read every single paragraph on this awesome site, I came across Yapta.com, which I have somehow never heard of.
What a gem.

7 Dave { 04.12.13 at 8:04 am }

Thanks Terry!!!

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook!

8 Eric { 11.16.15 at 3:33 pm }

If I can make a suggestion regarding finding cheap flights…. The Hopper app is great (I believe it is available for both iOS and Android). We were planning on driving in lieu of flying. About six months before our trip, I found out about Hopper in an article I was reading about airfare and decided to download the app. I plugged in the dates we were planning on traveling and set the app to “Watch” those dates. About 2-1/2 months before we were leaving, I received a notification from the Hopper app that prices were about $111 round trip per person (from Chicago) for the dates being watched. I checked the app and discovered that if we left a day sooner, we could get round-trip airfare for $92 round trip per person. What a deal! Needless to say, my wife was extremely happy that we don’t have to drive 20+ hours each way…. and… more time at WDW!

9 Dave { 11.17.15 at 11:40 am }

Thanks Eric great idea!!

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My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2017 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.