5 Ways to Reduce Costs Inside an Airport

Flying can be an expensive endeavor. You spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to get to your destination. But then you’re nickel-and-dimed on everything else once you get to the airport. Of course, everything is more expensive, so it’s more like you’re five-and-tenned.
But there are some ways you can avoid these high-priced incidentals once you get to the airport. We’ve brainstormed five ways to reduce your costs.
Washington Dulles Airport at dusk
Take an Uber or Lyft to the airport, or have a friend take you to save on parking costs, especially if you’re going to be gone for more than a week. Onsite parking at O’Hare International Airport’s long-term economy lot can run you $17/day—$40/day if you park in the main garage. While an Uber or Lyft ride might cost you somewhere in that range, that one-time cost will not grow exponentially while you’re on your trip. Better yet, ask (or bribe) a friend or family member to take you and pick you up. This option will be far cheaper than any other option, and your car will still be safe at home.
Eat before you leave the /hotel. Those early morning flights make this a challenge, but if you can program your coffeemaker the night before, you can figure out some sort of portable breakfast—a protein bar or a container of yogurt or even a bagel—to eat on the way. It’s no secret that the food vendors know they have a captive (hungry) audience, and they charge accordingly. Rather than eat a $6 breakfast sandwich, you can even swing through the drive-thru for half that amount.
Visit an airport lounge. A way around the high-priced restaurants and snacks at the newsstands is to get into an airline lounge. If you fly Delta and you purchase your card using an American Express Platinum or Business Platinum credit card, you can access over 1000 lounges, bring guests, and get complimentary food and alcoholic beverages while you wait for your flight. You can also sometimes get a day pass for around $40 or $50. You may be able to get some hors d’oeuvres (at some airports) and cocktails, which can offset the cost of the day pass versus the cost of a restaurant meal.
Bring your own reading material. You know those magazines you subscribe to that are delivered to your home that you never have time to read? Instead of purchasing something impulsively at the airport newsstand, stick one in your carry-on. Or grab a book or your newspaper off the front porch. Airport bookstore prices are often jacked up for the “convenience,” but there’s no point in paying a premium for something you already own.
Take an empty water bottle through TSA and fill it at a filling station (located at the water fountain). Bottled water costs two to three times more on the concourses than it does at the grocery, which is already a tad high. Plus, flying dehydrates you, so you’re not only saving money, you’re saving your health.
How do you save money when you’re at the airport? Do you have any special strategies or tricks? Share them with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.
Photo credit: Joe Ravi (Creative Commons 3.0)