Flights are the biggest expenditure of any vacation especially if it is an international vacation. There are so many websites and so many deals and offers and the prices are always fluctuating that we actually have to scratch our heads while hunting the cheapest deal. Well, the following tips and tricks will get you the best deal with the least effort:
- 1. Be flexible with travel dates and times
- 2. Search using google flights or skyscanner
- 3. Search in incognito
- 4. Don’t always fly direct
- 5. Fly where its cheap
- 6. Mind the convenience fee
- 7. Find a good offer
- 8. Use travel credit cards
- 9. Approach a local travel agent
- 10. Fly with low-cost Carriers
- 12. Check baggage limits for all your flights
- 13. Check prices in other currencies
1. Be flexible with travel dates and times
Flight prices vary a lot based on the day as well as the time of the flight. Plan your trip around the dates when the flight prices are minimum. Here are some general rules for the days you should pick but again, they are not universal:
- Pick Weekdays for Flying: Weekends are the off days for working people as well the students and are an obvious first choice when it comes to picking days for flying. Due to high demand fares are mostly higher on weekends.
- Don’t plan your vacation around local Festivals and Holidays: It is quite obvious that people will travel more around the festivals and holidays. Hence, airlines intentionally jack up the prices around this time.
- Book your flights Monday to Wednesday at Midnight:The less the search traffic, lesser are the chances of increment in prices. As per ‘musafir.in‘ the least flight search traffic is experienced Monday to Wednesday especially at midnight. So, do not keep your booking hanging to be done later on the weekend.
2. Search using google flights or skyscanner
Search engines matter a lot while finding the cheapest flights for the following reasons:
- Every booking website does not list every airline in its search.
- You can easily find different prices for the same flight on different websites. Sometimes, it is because of little delays in the fare updates but a lot of the times it is because of the difference in commission structures.
- Most booking websites do not show mix-match combinations of different airlines in case of a lay-over. They only show the combinations of the flights either of the same airline or of the airlines that have a collaboration.
Want to understand why? Go through this example below.
Example: I searched flights from Delhi to Hanoi for the same date on different search engines at the same time and this is what I found:
On Makemytrip, an Indian booking website the price of Vietjet Air Flight: Rs.10,568.
On the website of the carrier Vietjetair, the same flight was available at Rs.7660.
And when I searched on google flights the same flight was listed at Rs.6,926. The price is low because of some delay in fetching the actual fare from the airline’s website.
Moral of the Story: Search the flights on comparator websites .
3. Search in incognito
Websites continuously track what you’re searching for by saving cookies in your browser and might inflate the prices on repeated searches. So don’t let them track you. You can either clear your browser cookies or use incognito or private modes in your browser for searching flights.
4. Don’t always fly direct
No doubt, direct flights are the best especially for short distances since they take the least time but sometimes breaking up your journey can save you a good amount of money. I’ll give you an example from my personal experience. I had to fly from Siem Reap to Delhi, Cambodia; minimum direct flight cost was about Rs.14,500 ($200) but I took a flight to Bangkok for Rs,3.500 ($49) and then to Delhi for Rs.7000($98) . I saved Rs.4000 ($56) but of-course it took more time.
The best way to find an intermediate location between source and destination city is to use the ‘Explore’ option on Skyscanner or google flights.
- Click on the map under the explore option.
- Enter your Source destination and look for nearby or intermediate places where you see a cheaper price.
- Finally search for the flight from this intermediate city to the final destination.
- If you are saving some good money, next confirm that you don’t have to change airports on intermediate location. Also, check for visa rules before making any bookings.
You may have to try this hit and trial with a couple of places and you can save yourself some good money.
Another good option is to use the website Airwander. This website discovers ‘stopovers’ for you where you can get out of the intermediate airport and explore the city.
5. Fly where its cheap
You want to go on a budget trip and not sure whereto go. Use the same ‘Explore’ tool discussed in the last point to find a cheap destination to fly to. You know when to fly but don’t know where to unless the fares tell you.
When you vacation like this the ‘unexpected’ element will enhance the experience multiple times.
6. Mind the convenience fee
Most Online Travel Agencies charge convenience fee to maintain the cost of their customer support center additional to the flight tickets. This varies heavily among different companies, starting from Rs.0 to as high as Rs.1500/- per pax.
- Lucrative Offer given by websites: 10% Instant off.
- But as you proceed to pay: Total amount= Ticket cost – Discount + Convenience fee
- So, Effective discount = Discount given – Convenience fee
- Always ensure that Discount given > Convenience fee.
Convenience fee comparison of major websites in India
|S.No.||Website||Domestic Flight||International Flight|
Websites that charge zero convenience fee:
- Some of the Airline’s websites like AirAsia and most of airline’s booking offices do not charge any fee. Indian Carriers Indigo, Spicejet do charge a fee.
- Easemytrip with code EMTNCF.
- HDFC Smartbuy if you’re a HDFC customer
7. Find a good offer
I cannot emphasis enough on the importance of deals and offers, especially the card offers. But if you open any major ticket booking website, there are so many offers listed that a lot of times you miss the big ones. The solution is this Google Chrome extension which finds all offers available and applies the best ones for you: Shopper.com. But even with this extension you will have to reach the checkout page of each website individually.
However, on certain extremely user friendly sites like Easemytrip.com, the full list of codes is listed on easemytrip checkout page only and you won’t need this extension. Additionally, this extension works for all online shopping websites and not limited to travel websites.
Follow these Steps:
1. Click Here –> Shopper.com and add its extension to Google Chrome.
This extension will be added to your google chrome toolbar.
2. On the checkout page where there is an option to apply coupon code, click on this extension and wait of the magic to happen. It will apply all coupon codes available on the website and apply the best available deal for you.
8. Use travel credit cards
Travel credit cards will save you an enormous amount of money. Not only you get a huge sign-up bonus as points bu also you also get various other benefits like complimentary airport lounge access, free priority-pass membership. Every point or mile you earn on these cards hold a higher monetary value if you encash them to book flights.
You should also sign-up for the Airline Rewards Program. Mostly all such programs are free to join. You will earn points or rewards every time you fly with the airline and encash them to get free flights, discounts, free upgrades, and free companion tickets.
9. Approach a local travel agent
Now a days most people book online and do not approach any local travel agents for booking flight tickets and the scene was exactly opposite a few years back. Sometimes, these local agents cut their commissions low to extend a good discount. But remember that you must approach reputed or known agents only since scammers/ poor service-providers also operate in this field.
10. Fly with low-cost Carriers
Low-cost carriers generally are considerably cheaper than full-service airlines. You won’t get a comfortable legroom especially if you are 5’10” or more, you won’t get free meals or drinks, you can only carry little luggage without paying extra but then you pay much less here. Avoid priority check-in’s & premium seats. If you could bear a few hours of little discomfort, it could save you a lot.
In India except Air India every airline is a budget airline. Here is the full list:
11. Book flights well in advance:
With dynamic pricing air fares tend to rise as the travel date approaches closer and skyrockets in the peak season and around festivals. The best time to book your flights is generally 2-3 months before your date of travel.
12. Check baggage limits for all your flights
Baggage limits varies across countries and across airlines. They may also be different for domestic and international flights.
Most budget airlines only allow one hand-bag weighing maximum 7 Kgs only free of cost; you will have to pay for check-in baggage. So, if you don’t wish to get surprised at the airport and be forced to pay, check these limits beforehand.
13. Check prices in other currencies
Search for the rate of your flight on international websites or the website from your destination country. Sometimes you might find cheaper prices. But be cautious, make sure you’re using a bank card that is free of foreign-transaction fees, otherwise the exercise may backfire and will end up paying more.
Use the above tips and book flights at the cheapest prices possible. Do not stress your head once its done.
Do you know of a great hack to book flights that is not listed above? Tell me in the comment box and it will be updated in this post with your name on it. Share this post and save your friends some money along with yours.
Wishing all Frugal Bookings Ahead!!
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