There are lots of tips and tricks in order to find the cheapest flights! Choosing budget airlines over full service, using frequent flyer points, buying sale fares or price beating through a travel agent are all common ways of achieving this.
Though most people think they want the cheapest possible flight, in reality most people actually want the best value flight for them. The cheapest flight usually means, the longest layovers, multiple stopovers, budget airlines, ‘out of city’ airports and unfavourable flight times.
Whether you are looking for the best value flight or the cheapest flight out there, here are some extra tips for finding the best flight for you.
Pick your search engine wisely
There are lots of airfare comparison sites and search engines out there. It can almost be too overwhelming to know where to start and which sites offer the best value fares.
Skyscanner, Kayak and Cheapoair are a few awesome websites for comparing flight times, availability and identifying the cheapest month, day and time to fly. Skyscanner is a great tool for all of these things, and probably the most user-friendly, however Skyscanner is a search engine. It will redirect you to a third-party website to purchase the flights.
There are however a few things to be aware of when using these sites:
– Hidden fees. Sometimes there are hidden fees that don’t show up in the search engine. It is important to go to the final payment page, and read the fine print before purchasing the flights.
– Be aware that most search engines or airfare comparison sites DO NOT include budget airlines. You need to search the budget airline sites directly. Tip: It’s useful to make a list of all the budget airlines operating in your chosen destination, then visit each site individually, taking note of the price and flight times.
– These sites are great tools to use to help you find the best value flights, however it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option is to book through. Check all your options before booking a flight.
Another good option is Google’s ITA Software, this search engine proofs to find cheaper fares than others but the drawback is that you can’t book directly through it. The site will provide you with some codes and you will need to send these to a travel agent who will make the booking for you adding a little fee.
Be flexible on your flight day and time
Not only does the season (peak, shoulder, off-season) affect the price of the flight, but the day of the week, and even the time of the day can affect the price.
Not every airline flies to each destination every day of the week. If you are flexible on your travel date you can pick the day of the week the cheaper or budget airlines fly.
Flight time is important! Pick unfavourable flight times to get the cheapest price. If you are travelling on a Friday, then you will find most evening flights are more expensive, as a lot of people will travel after work for the weekend. Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays are also generally more expensive days to travel. In most cases Tuesdays and Wednesday are the cheapest days to travel, as fewer people can travel on these days.
It is also important to check when the peak and shoulder seasons are in your chosen destination. If you want to travel in the peak season, it might be worth checking when the shoulder season ends. Travelling just a couple of days before the start of the peak season can drastically affect the flight price.
Check whether it’s cheaper to book in local currency, or via the local airline or search engine’s website.
Believe it or not, but the price of a flight can change depending on what country website you are using and what currency you want to pay in. For example, if you are booking a flight with Malindo, the Malaysian version of Malindo’s website is often cheaper than the Australian version of the same website. If you are booking a flight within Latin America, then booking through the Spanish version of the site can sometimes work out cheaper than the English version (I found this to be especially true in Colombia). If you are booking for a site such as Expedia, then check different countries of the same site. I’ve often found the Canadian Expedia to be cheaper than the Australian Expedia.
It pays to do some research!
Book long haul flights yourself
It can sometimes work out cheaper to build the long haul flight yourself. You can either do this by booking different legs through different airlines or sites, or literally just booking the different legs with the same airline, but separately.
Be warned – this option can be a little risky! The biggest issue (which most people don’t realise) is that by booking the flights separately the airlines are at no obligation to reimburse you for any missed flights, or delays. When you book a long haul flight on one ticket, it is the airlines responsibility to get you to your destination and to ensure you make each connecting flight. If you were to miss your flight or were delayed due to the airline, then they will offer compensation. If you book your flights separately, it is important to make sure you have enough time between each flight.
Do you have any tips on finding the best value flight? We’d love to hear them.