The best tricks for finding cheap flights
2nd of July, 2019
The cost of flights is often one of the greatest expenses travellers are hit with. But thankfully, there are many ways you can help bring down the cost of your airfares.
Scoring cheap flights can be a rather simple process if you know the best tricks and tips. There is often a lot of conflicting advice online when it comes to ways you can find cheaper flights, which can make it a bit difficult to know what tips actually work.
In the ever evolving travel industry, we have dug deep to uncover the latest helpful advice that will give you the best chance of keeping your airfares low, so you can spend your money on more important things such as travel activities and unforgettable experiences.
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One of the easiest ways to get cheaper flights is to be flexible with choosing both your holiday destination and your travel period.
Not everyone will have the luxury of being flexible, but those that are will find they stand a far greater chance of scoring the best available flight deals.
Many of us are in the habit of choosing a holiday destination and then searching flights, but you can often score a much cheaper holiday by doing things in reverse.
By checking up flight prices online to various destinations first, you can find what regions currently offer the cheapest flights and narrow down a list of places that interest you.
Having flexibility in regards to when you travel will allow you to avoid travelling during peak periods when most travellers choose to fly, such as around popular holidays and festivals.
Being flexible will also allow you to select the cheapest days and hours to fly. If you happen to have several local airports to choose from, flexibility will also allow you to choose the one offering the cheapest airfares.
Avoid peak travel period
So we have just covered that being flexible with your travel plans will allow you to avoid peak travel periods, but what are those periods?
More people fly around the major holidays such as Christmas, New Years, and Easter. You must be aware that different countries may also celebrate holidays you are unfamiliar with, so you want to make yourself aware of these in order to avoid them if you’re looking for cheaper flights.
Because there is such a large demand for these travel dates, airfares are almost always higher than normal. Peak airfares are also at their highest when a region is experiencing their finest weather for the year.
Choosing to travel during the winter months or rainy season can allow you to take advantage of much cheaper flights, but you must outweigh the drawbacks of visiting destinations when the weather may not be as appealing.
For North America and Europe, the most expensive flights are usually found during the summer months running from June to September. This is also true with many African safari destinations like Kenya, as these months correlate with the dry season which usually provides better wildlife viewing opportunities.
From January through May, you should be able to purchase flights much cheaper to these regions.
For domestic travel around Australia as well foreign destinations like Cape Town and Buenos Aires, the cheaper flight months are of course reversed since these regions are in the Southern Hemisphere and the seasons are opposite.
Choose budget airlines
If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort and service during your flights, flying with a budget airline can be a great way to save costs on your airfare.
There was a time when you only had the option of choosing budget airlines for shorter domestic routes, but today we find more and more budget airlines flying long-haul international routes as well.
Of course you have to decide if the discomfort of flying a budget airline is tolerable for long duration flights. The reason budget airlines can offer much better rates is the fact they pack more seats onto their planes which sadly equates to less leg room for passengers.
Budget airlines also don’t usually include luggage allowances, complimentary food and drink, or entertainment in the price of their fares. You may also be hit with fees if you wish to select your seat or when choosing to pay with a credit card.
You must make sure to add up all the extra fees associated with a budget flight if you plan on using extra services.
Sometimes you may find that flying budget airlines while choosing all the extra services such as added bags and meals will cost you more than flying a full-service airline.
Connecting flights and flying multiple airlines
If your airline travel involves a route with multiple legs, don’t feel as though you need to stick with the same airline for all those legs.
You can save a considerable amount of money by mixing and matching airlines to come up with a cheaper overall flight journey to your destination.
This also allows you to select a more comfortable full-service airline for a long-haul leg but then switch to a budget airline for any shorter legs that may follow.
Choosing routes that have connecting flights as opposed to direct or non-stop flights are generally cheaper as there is often less demand due to their longer journey time and inconvenience.
Of course, you must be sure to allow yourself plenty of time between connecting flights, especially if you are planning on mixing different airlines.
The new airline for your next route won’t be responsible for rebooking you a new flight if your previous leg was on a different airline and that flight is severely delayed.
When to book your flights?
Knowing when exactly you should book your flights after deciding on a holiday somewhat depends on where you are travelling to.
In general, the best rates for flights seem to be offered around two months before the actual flight date. If you’re planning on travelling during peak periods like the major holidays, you may want to purchase your flights a bit earlier.
Airline fares tend to increase in price the closer you get to your intended travel dates. You don’t, however, want to book too far in advance as you may miss out on special offers and sales that may be offered if there is a lack of demand for certain flights.
Last minute flights to destinations experiencing their off-peak season might be better priced closer to the date for example.
Cheapest days to fly
Flights tend to be more expensive towards the end of the work and the end of a weekend.
People seem to be either taking off to enjoy a long weekend holiday or trying to get back in time for the beginning of the work week. This means Sundays, Thursdays, and Fridays tend to be the most expensive days to fly.
Those looking to score cheaper airfares should look at booking flights for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays. Of course this can change depending on what days of the week major public holidays or special events fall on.
Cheapest time of day to fly
You can also get better deals on flights by choosing flights at less popular times.
Early morning flights and late evening flights tend to be the least popular and therefore offer up the best deals. This of course means you may have to wake up during the early AM hours to give yourself enough time to arrive at the airport and check-in.
Late night flights on the other hand can have you getting in around midnight or later which may make checking into a hotel more difficult or seemingly not a real good value since you won’t get to enjoy your hotel for as much time as you normally would.
Search for airfare prices individually
Even though you may be travelling as a couple or family, purchasing your tickets separately can end up saving you a great deal of money.
When you search for flight prices for multiple travellers, airlines often group the tickets together and quote the price of each ticket based on the most expensive seat in that group.
This is because most airline systems are designed to make all seats purchased in one single transaction cost the same. That means if there is only one cheap seat left available for a flight and you try to book four seats in one transaction, the system will not allow you to access the cheaper seat rate since there are not four available for that same rate.
Book your tickets separately and you may be able to get a few of your required number of seats at a discounted rate. Simply remember to reserve your seats if possible so you will be able to sit next to your family or travelling companions.
Searching airfares online
Booking your flights online allows you to take advantage of flight comparison websites to score the best airfare deals.
You need not search each airline individually, as websites like Skyscanner, Momondo, KAYAK, and Google Flights will do all the hard work for you.
It is important to note that some of these websites may not display more obscure budget airlines, so it pays to do a search of a couple of these websites to ensure you are getting the full flight results.
A search of a few flight comparison websites is still better than looking up flights on a dozen different airlines’ websites. There is a theory that you should clear your computer’s browsing history and cookies before searching airfares, as some say airline websites raise their fares if they believe you’re more serious about booking a holiday.
Some people may even choose to open an incognito tab while searching for flights. Whether or not this is a true fact is debateable, but it can’t hurt to try. Another way you may be able to get cheaper flights online is to use an airline website’s “flexible search option” that will show you the rates for several days before and after your selected dates.
This may allow you to choose a cheaper rate if you have the flexibility of changing your travel dates. One last way to possibly score a better airfare is to change the currency you are searching in when it comes to booking international airlines.
Currency conversion is sometimes tricky for airlines to stay on top of and their conversion may be out of date and work in your favour. Play around with seeing the rates in different currencies and compare the difference to the actual up to date conversion rates to see if you are offered a better rate.
Use frequent flyer miles or credit card points
Why pay for flights at all when you can get free flights?
Whether or not you’re a frequent flyer or not, you should definitely sign-up for frequent flyer programs. After a while, you may just find yourself with enough miles for a free flight.
Frequent flyer programs are free and points usually only expire after a long period of account inactivity. Certian credit cards offer frequent flyer miles or points you can exchange for flights as well.
Many have special sign-up bonuses that may gift you with enough points or miles for a free flight right away if you meet the sign-up terms and conditions.
Join airline email lists
Lastly, although you may not like your email inbox being flooded with special offers, you can get notifications of special airfare deals from your favourite airlines by subscribing to their email list.
This saves you from always having to seek out deals and the emails that are sent to you may give you inspiration on where to travel next.
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