When you find an airfare that fits your budget, it makes sense to book immediately so you don't lose the deal. If you find yourself short on funds, you sometimes have the option to place that airfare on layaway, meaning you'll put down a deposit and then pay off the balance within a specified period of time. A number of airlines provide this option for their customers and specialized travel companies also can help you pay for your flight over time.
Layaway with Specific Airlines
American Airlines offers the Fly Now Payment Plan to its customers. You'll need to apply for the American Airlines credit card, and then you can put a deposit on your flight and pay it off within six months with no interest. Travelers are eligible to use this plan when the cost of the ticket is at least $150. When you're willing to book both an airfare and a hotel or a car through a specific airline, you often have the layaway option. British Airways, for example, allows you to lock in your airfare by paying a deposit and then paying your balance within 10 weeks of departure.
Layaway with Travel Companies
Book travel through online companies that take partial payments and pay the balance through installments. Sears Vacations has a layaway plan that allows you to book airfare, hotel stays and complete vacation packages. After putting 20 percent of the cost down as a deposit, you'll pay a certain amount every month until the purchase is paid off. Gate 1 Travel publishes discount online airfares and travel packages on a regular basis and requires only a percentage of the total cost to be paid at the time of booking. STA Travel allows you to book a flight for a low deposit and pay the balance up to seven days before your flight.
Expect Extra Fees
The convenience of paying for your flight incrementally comes with a price in most cases. For example, Sears Vacations charges a monthly fee for the layaway option. The company eLayaway Travel also charges a transaction fee. There's a ticket service fee assessed when you use STA Travel. If you're hoping to use a layaway plan to avoid interest charges on your credit card, you may want to do some math to determine whether you're really saving any money.
Not every flight is eligible for a layaway option; confirm a flight or travel package's eligibility for layaway before you book. You may also be subject to a credit check; American Airlines requires you to open its credit card before you can put a flight on layaway. Deposits are nonrefundable, which means if you end up changing your plans or canceling your trip, you won't get your money back.