Flying is obviously the most comfortable means of travel, but booking cheap flights is essential. I have been able to get some great deals on my flight prices especially to the Philippines and Thailand. I follow some things every single time when I book a flight. I get a lot of questions of about securing cheap flights, so I thought of sharing some useful tips to book the cheapest flights.
Without much ado, these are some things to look to book the cheapest flights.
01| Figure Out the Best Time to Buy Tickets
There are specific time periods during which the flight prices are better. It is known that the best time to book a ticket for international travel is between 2 to 3 months in advance. It is not advisable to book too early as well, as the prices can be high. For local flights, the best time would be 3 weeks before the travels.
The best days to book cheap flights are usually Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The reason being airlines release fresh slot of seats on these days, and hence could offer the left-over seats for cheaper prices. Avoid booking flights on the weekends, as the prices are usually the highest.
02 | Fly on the Cheapest Days & Times
There are cheapest days to fly as well, which are usually the weekdays between Tuesday and Thursday. The red-eye – late night or early morning flights are usually cheaper compared to the other times.
03 | Search Engines Matter
Use the best search engines available while looking for flights. The most used are probably Skyscanner, which is highly popular for its ‘Everywhere’ feature – You can just select everywhere in the to section and it’ll give you a long list of destinations starting from the lowest price. This feature is helpful if you are not sure about the destination. Not only does it give you an insight on how much the flight price costs for different countries, but you can also get custom alerts if you want to track the prices for any particular country or city.
Other popular websites that you can try are Hipmunk and Kayak. Kayak has the ‘explore’ feature similar to Skyscanner’s everywhere, and Hipmunk covers almost all of the airlines giving an extensive list.
04 | Delete Your Cookies
The cookies on the website increase your flight’s price by big numbers.
So every time you look for a flight, make it a habit of deleting your browser’s cookies and cache.
05 | Go Incognito
For the best prices, browse in incognito mode. The cookies that you delete might not be totally gone, and a clear private window would give you better prices always.
06 | Create/Sign-up for Alerts
When airlines announce offers or exciting deals, obviously their email subscribers, who are mostly their customers, are the first to receive the offer details. So sign-up for the airline’s newsletters to know about offers, insider deals and last minute discounts. If you hate frequent mail spam, then choose a weekly or bi-weekly digest.
07 | Look for Online Deals
Apart from the airlines, many third party booking websites offer great deals from time to time. So do a check once before booking the flight. Also, these deals are more likely to occur during the off-season or on the weekdays, which are usually dry-spells for flying. Make the most of it!
08 | Join Frequent Flyer Programs
Another smart way to book cheap flights is to enroll for frequent flyer programs. Most of the international and domestic carriers offer special discounts for their members often. Not only is it free to join, but you also accumulate flyer miles or points that can be used to book your future travel tickets.
Identify a few airlines that you use the most and sign-up for their programs right away to get massive discounts.
09 | Invest in a Travel Credit Card
A travel credit card is pretty much your regular credit card, but a lot of facilities being provided for travel. Anyone who travels frequently must have one for best travel experiences!
Like flyer miles, travel credit cards also offer points for every booking made, which can be redeemed for your flights later. Not just that, many credit cards also provide access to premier lounges at the airports and special offers are sometimes announced exclusively for cardholders.
10 | Fly During the Low Seasons
Just like there are better times for searching and booking a flight for best prices, there are special times when it’s good to fly. Do a research before hand.
Some people decide on a destination based on the low prices available to fly there when the place is running off-season.
If you are flexible, then this is actually the most effective way to save a lot of money on flights since some destinations are too cheap to fly when the season is low.
11 | Research Baggage Rules
Read the instructions carefully and check for any additional fees for baggage or other accessories. More often than not, it happens that the airlines providing the cheapest airfares do not allow check-in baggage for free, and the additional costs for baggage are not cheap.
So even if a flight looks cheap, check for baggage rules. Also, look for any hidden charges that might come in at the time of booking.
12 | Avoid Selecting Seats
Unless you a have a specific reason to have particular seats or are crazy about a window seat (like me!), avoid selecting seats manually while buying the flight tickets. Seat selection incurs additional charges on almost all airlines except a few.
13 | Identify the Budget Airlines
There are many well-known budget carriers internationally, but within countries, the domestic airlines offer much better price. So look which is the best in the areas you travel.
For example, Ryan Air is a good budget carrier for European countries. Likewise, AirAsia works best for Asia.
14 | Avoid Direct Flights
Frequent fliers would know that direct flights hurt the pocket the most. The majority of the times, there are options for multiple stops flights, and it’s better to opt for one if you wish to save some money despite the discomfort.
15 | Opt for Flights with Long Layovers
I know. Long layovers mean spending boring time at the airports and battling additional exhaustion. I hate it too. But remember, we are trying to save some money on flights? So when you select multiple flights, opting for flights with more layover time is one more thing that you can do.
Because, usually, if the layover is longer it means that the flight prices are generally cheaper.
16 | Check What Currency Works Best for Paying
Compare which currency works the best before making payment. Sometimes currency of the destination country can be cheaper.
Also, know what transaction works the best. There is a minimum transaction fee most of the times but check the payment options thoroughly to see if there are any means to avoid it.
17 | Flexibility Helps
On the whole, being flexible helps – with the dates, airlines, time, layovers and even the destinations itself.
Of course, sometimes it may not be possible at all, but if you pick any two to three of these factors while booking, you can notice huge variations in the price.
18 | Try Other Means of Transport or Select the Cheapest Place to Fly
The best way to avoid additional costs is not to fly at all, meaning opting for other means of transport. It’s true that flying saves a lot of time and energy and is the most convenient mode of travel. But we tend to overlook the other means of transport like well-connected railways, car-hires, etc.
Many countries have hop-off hop-on bus facilities even for long distances. Most of the countries have good road transport. It’s up to us to take the call if saving money is a priority, right?
What about you? Have you tried any of these? Do you know any other tricks to crack a great flight deal?
PS: This article was originally published on the author’s website here.
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