There’s little doubt the internet has changed the way we fly forever. And that definitely includes finding the cheapest flight.
There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting next to someone on the plane and discovering you paid a lot less for the same flight. Just don’t rub it in!
If you’re prepared to put in a little time at the keyboard and follow a few simple guidelines, there are savings to be had.
First off, remember that prices do change regularly as the airlines react to the number of seats sold, or not sold, as the case may be. That means you need to keep checking often, and keep a record, so you don’t get confused about where and when you saw what price.
Oh, and when you are comparing fares, make sure it is like with like. Be very aware of taxes, surcharges and fees etc. Of course, some airlines are more comfy to fly with. You might be able to choose your seat allocation, and the food and drinks might be better. Price is not always the only factor if you’re going a long way, for instance.
A general rule of thumb is that the closer to the departure date you book, the more you’ll pay. Of course, if an airline is finding it difficult to fill a particular route or time-slot as that date looms, a last-minute price drop might be offered. Waiting till that happens is obviously a risk.
That’s why one of the keys to getting a great price is being as flexible as possible. That starts with your dates and the time of year. Of course, when it’s everyone’s holiday time, usually determined by school holidays, up go the prices. Out of season is a much cheaper alternative, of course, but why not check out the value you can get during the so-called ‘shoulder’ periods. As the name suggests, these are at the very beginning and end of the high season.
Airlines, hotels and resorts will want to draw business to these times to make the very best of their season, so you might be able to take advantage pricewise.
Of course, taking your holiday ‘on the shoulder’ means the weather is still going to be better than home, and you won’t be fighting your way through thousands of sight-seers or beach-goers either. Local prices might be a little easier to swallow too.
Another thought. Can you travel on the less popular days of the week, avoiding the weekends, or at a less convenient time, like a very early departure time in the morning? A Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday 6am departure might save you far more than your early-morning taxi to the airport.
Think about the route too. Do you have to go the way everyone does? Is there a cheaper alternative? Can you go to a less expensive secondary airport nearby to your destination and finish your trip by bus or train? Also, check out if a single ticket each way from different airports is a better bet.
So, is there actually a good day to finally press the ‘proceed to checkout’ button? Well, there is evidence that it’s best to avoid the weekends, and go for a Tuesday or Wednesday. If there are bargains out there, they will probably be all gone by Thursday.
Good luck with your search for the best cheap flight. If you have any tips that you don’t want to keep secret, let us know.