There was a time when traveling in flights used to be only for the super-rich, but with competition in the aviation industry, fuel prices spiraling down and changes in lifestyle, flying has become an affordable travel option. Despite that, there is a prevalent misconception that flying to your dream destination can cost you a fortune. That is a sheer myth. Here are some insider secrets that will help you book cheap flights when planning your next vacation and might even convert you to a frequent flyer.
What you see and what you get:
When planning a journey, you can book your flight tickets directly from the airline website but the smarter thing to do is to get your tickets from travel agents at a great discount. This price difference between what you see on the airline website and what you can get from the travel agent is because travel agents are allowed to offer significant discounts to their customers to quickly fill up the seats. This little trick can save you around $100 depending on your travel destination. This money saved might increase if you are looking at international destinations.
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Early bird takes the prize:
Like in all matters, booking your flight tickets early can be extremely cost-efficient. Ticket pricing in the aviation industry works on a complex algorithm to maximize revenue generation based on human psychology & buying pattern. In simple terms, the prices of the seats on a flight get jacked up as the travel date approaches. The airline figures that the closer you get to the travel date, the higher will be the rush ensuring a readiness to pay more for the same seat. You are better off booking your tickets early thereby avoiding getting ripped off by this complex mathematical model. However, too early might not help you. The best time to buy your tickets is around 60 days prior to your travel date.
Aggregator sites are your friends:
There are a number of airlines offering discounts for specific flight routes on various days. However, it isn’t possible for us to search for these discounts individually on each airline website. Rather, it is very time-consuming. This is where flight comparison websites turn on their charm. You can get the best rates of all known flights for different flight routes on these aggregator sites that simplify your task by doing the research for you. Some of the genuine aggregator sites that consolidate the cheapest flight-rates under one cyber-roof are Airfare Watchdog, Kayak, Momondo & Skyscanner. Google flights is also a handy tool to compare prices.
Keep your dates flexible:
Keeping your dates flexible will help you to save a good amount of money while booking flights. Search for a date and see the adjacent dates on a calendar. Sometimes, booking your flight one day early or a day later can help you book at half the price. This holds true for all the festivals as well. Take an extra leave from work and you will save a lot. Skyscanner and Google flights have efficient fare calendar according to what I have seen.
Erroneous airline fares:
Many times airlines quote anomalous airfares that are much lower than the regular flight tickets. This could be because of software glitches, human errors, currency conversion errors, an omission of fuel surcharges, late cancellations, and promotional offers on that route or a host of other factors. The trick lies in digging up those fares and taking advantage of them while they last. How do you find these aberrations? Secretflying is the portal that extracts all such erroneous flight fares and shows them at one place. Travel agents who scan a thousand flight fares in a day also might be aware of these occasional anomalies. All you have to do is go to them and take advantage of these fares.
The best time to buy tickets:
The rates of flight tickets are dynamically adjusted based on several critical factors. If you want to benefit from this model, then book your tickets just after midnight. The travel agents usually hold the prices till the last hour of the day. After midnight, the ticket prices are at their lowest due to the previous day’s cancellation and higher seat availability. Use this supply-demand equation to your advantage and book your tickets at the cheapest prices during this period.
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There is ample empirical proof that you can save in a big way by opting for travel packages instead of just flight tickets. If you buy your flight ticket along with a rental car or a hotel room, then you can enjoy deeper discounts. When you stitch your flight tickets with your car rentals or hotels, the travel agents can add you to a high-spender list that allows them to provide you a higher discount on your consolidated package thereby significantly bringing down your traveling and accommodation costs.
Best of both worlds:
Many airlines offer a discounted price for flight tickets on a particular route but hike the prices on the same route for a return ticket. If used wisely, this little insider secret can ease the burden on your wallet for all your future travels. For this, instead of booking a round-trip ticket you can buy the cheapest one-way ticket to your destination and another one-way ticket back from your destination. Even if you have to book your tickets on different airlines, you will be availing the cheapest tickets on both legs of your journey.
Hide your browsing history:
It’s an open secret that online sellers gather a lot of information about their customers by tracking their cookies, IP address, and past buying behavior. If you have bought flight tickets from flight comparison sites, then you might have noticed that once you punch in your embarking and disembarking points in one website, it automatically gets updated in all the rest of them. This is possible because all of them track your cookies and browsing history. By doing this, airlines learn more about your travel destinations and dates and accordingly keep raising the ticket prices thus forcing you to cough up more for your ticket. You can stop this by keeping your travel plan under wraps till you decide to buy the ticket. For this, all you need to do is clear your cookies & browsing history & use the ‘incognito’ or ‘private browsing’ feature when shopping for flight tickets. A virtual private network or VPN login can be used to circumvent the problem of your IP address getting tracked by the aggregator sites. This could make a difference of $70 to $120 discount on your flight tickets.
The 2-in-1 ‘layover’ magic:
It is common knowledge that direct flights ticket to your chosen destination costs more than a flight with layovers. If you are not traveling on a tight schedule, then flying for the longer haul gets you better discounts. What more, if the layover is long enough, then you can make the layover destination part of your vacation plans and do some sight-seeing before heading to your final destination in the second leg of your journey. It’s a win-win all the way.
Earn and redeem your ‘loyalty points’:
If you are a frequent flyer or have collected a lot of ‘air mile points’ over the years, then don’t let those air mile points go down the drain. You can redeem those points for a substantially cheaper flight ticket. If you are falling short by a few miles, then you may even consider trading or buying a few miles to win a travel ticket. Points Loyalty Wallet is a good place to start trading air mile points. Keep an eye on the partnerships forged by airlines. They reward you with air miles for dining, booking a hotel and much more.
Budget and local airlines:
While flight comparison sites do a great job and consolidate the best fares for the dates and travel routes that you choose, not all of them include the budget airlines covering that route. Moreover, there might be some lesser known local airlines offering cheaper tickets when you are flying within a country. If you are interested to fly only on a budget or local airlines, then head over to WhichBudget. The site tells you all about the budget airlines operating between your chosen start and end points. While traveling on a budget airline make sure that you read the fine print as food and extra luggage might require additional payments. You should also be updated with travel-related news when these airlines come up with sales. Also, keep an eye if your city is getting new flights or carriers.
Prefer local currency:
Whenever you buy flight tickets, make sure that you always choose to pay in the local currency even when you are booking tickets from a foreign destination. You can do so by selecting the country you are buying your ticket from as your location. Paying in the local currency ensures that you pay the lowest possible fare.
Subscribe to a price-drop newsletter:
There are portals that track the flight prices to all international destinations multiple times a day. While you may not have the luxury of time to remain glued to the aggregator sites or keep calling your travel agent to know about the lower prices, subscribing to a newsletter of such a portal can instantly warn you about any price-drops of the flight tickets. Hopper is a great app that does just that. It tracks the flight prices on a daily basis and lets you know about the price-drops when they happen. Over and above that their app has a predictive feature that tells you what might be the flight prices going forward.
By remembering these insider secrets you can save a fortune on all your travels even as you clock in those air miles.