For the longest time I missed out on getting the cheapest flights, just because I didn’t know how flight prices worked or have the right tools to use to find myself the best deals, even though they were always out there! Seeing as I’m now a dab hand at getting my mits on bargain flights I thought I’d let you all in on a few of the secrets so that you too can save your pennies for the destination!
KNOW THE BEST TIME TO BOOK
If you’ve ever been online to look at a flight, found the perfect one for a reasonable price, and then come back a day later to find the price has gone up (sometimes a huge amount!) then here’s why…
There are a number of seats allocated on each flight at different prices but these prices also fluctuate depending on how booked the flight is… which essentially means you could have paid double the price of the person sitting in the seat right next to you depending on how booked up the plane was when they booked their seat.
So you would presume the advice for getting the cheapest flights on this one was easy right? Book as early as possible? STOP, it’s not necessarily the case! Some flights are expected to be booked up easily so when the prices of the seats go on sale initially they will be at a price based on the expected demand… but then if the flight doesn’t book out as quickly as anticipated the price of the seats may drop closer to the time of the flight to ensure that the plane is full. This is also why you can sometimes get amazing last-minute flight deals.
You’ve now spotted the problem. None of us are mind-readers and we don’t have the flight information needed to predict whether the price of our flight is likely to increase or decrease, however it’s 2017 which means of course there’s an app to help out. It’s called Hopper and it allows you to put in your travel details and will give you the current price of the flights and advice as to whether to book them now or to wait. If it tells you to wait as the price is likely to drop you can also set an alert on the app to notify you when the price does drop so you don’t miss it!
I used this app a ton in Australia… when I was flying with flexible dates I’d put multiple alerts on and pick the cheapest flights option!
You know how the internet has a pesky way of tracking your every online move? If you’re looking at Rome of tripadvisor you might notice you get adverts for tours in Rome popping up alongside every internet page you go to for months afterwards… it works the same way with your flights.
If you go on a flight comparison website and search for flights to a particular destination and don’t book them right away (because how many people actually do?) the internet knows you’re quite likely to come back and book those flights at a later date… and it also knows that you’ve probably gone to book your accommodation in the meantime tying you to those dates and times. So what does it do? Increase the cost of those flights of course, because it knows you have to pay them.
This doesn’t always happen but it has been known, so in order to avoid it altogether it’s best to do all your flight checking on “private” mode (use CTRL+Shift+N) or at least once you’ve find your flight use an incognito window just to check you aren’t being ripped off.
TRAVEL AT THE CHEAPEST TIMES
This one won’t be possible for everyone but if you have any kind of flexibility as to what day of the week and times you can fly you might end up paying a fraction of the cost. On the whole Fridays-Sundays are the most expensive times to fly as these are super popular times to travel because of people taking long weekends from work. Similarly mid-mornings are generally more expensive than flying in a late afternoon… and unsociable hours tend to offer the cheapest flights (sometimes it is even worth considering staying at the airport to take advantage of a super cheap flight!)
As I work at a job that allows me to take my holiday when I choose I usually decide which month I am going to travel in and then use Skyscanner’s “Whole Month” feature to see the days with the cheapest flights.
TAKE A CHANCE ON A NEW DESTINATION
If you’re feeling extremely adventurous then another way you can bag a stellar deal is to be flexible with your destination. Now the amount of control you have over this can vary depending on how much of a risk you’re willing to take.
Skyscanner will let you search for destination “Everywhere” and bring up the destinations with the cheapest flights during the dates that you want to go (fun fact: this is actually how I came up with one of the trips I’ll be taking later this month!)
The Kayak website have a great feature I’ve recently discovered called Kayak Explore which lets you define your budget and flight time and then displays all of the options of where you can fly to within those parameters. You can either set dates or not depending on whether you have the option to be flexible.
And if you’re feeling completely adventurous? Expedia have not long launched a scheme called Surprise Trips where you specify a budget, departure point and can add up to 5 destinations you don’t want to go to, and they plan everything for you. In fact you don’t even find out where you’re going until you’re at the airport! While it’s likely to be some people’s worst nightmare I actually think it sounds pretty fun!