Since the pandemic, flight prices have skyrocketed on airlines due to high demand and a lack of crew and aircraft to deliver their full pre-Covid routes and schedules. So, if you want to find cheaper fares, how do you do it?
When to book
Special deals often require a specific booking period, which can be three or six months in advance. However, if you see a sale like Black Friday before this point, there’s nothing wrong with pre-ordering. Get an idea of the best airfares for your desired route so you can grab a good deal when you see one.
You can also use Google Flights to track flight prices for specific dates.
Day of the week
There are lots of tips on ordering on certain days of the week, etc. It only works sometimes. But the day you travel is definitely worth considering. Most airlines offer discounted fares for midweek travel, which usually includes Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and sometimes Thursdays. There can be significant savings on some of these rates that offset any additional hotel nights you may have to add.
Some fares still require you to stay a Saturday night to get the cheapest deal, so it’s worth trying to include one to see if it lowers the price.
Which airport are you flying from?
The most significant savings often come from flying from a different airport and within Europe, especially from another country. For example, if you fly from Dublin to many destinations in the US, you can save up to £2,000 on a business class ticket compared to flying from the UK.
Direct and indirect
Although direct flights are more convenient, indirect flights can be significantly cheaper. Plus, with some airlines, that extra stop will earn you extra miles and status credits, which are worth considering if you collect them.
Some airlines such as TAP, Qatar and Emirates often have stopover programs that can be free or discounted for a night or two in their country to promote tourism there. This way, you get two destinations for one price.
When booking connecting flights, make sure they are on one ticket, as some agencies will sell tickets separately, but in one booking. With everything on one ticket, you’ll be covered if you miss a connection due to a delayed flight. However, check how long it takes to connect, as airlines sometimes sell tickets with very tight connections. For example, when flying to the US, if you connect to another US destination, you must go through customs and immigration, including collecting and rechecking your baggage. This can take a long time, although at least there is a baggage drop point for connections instead of going back to check-in at major airports.
When is a bargain not a bargain?
Make sure you do your research on what you’re really getting for your money. For example, on a domestic flight in the US, you won’t be able to buy food in First Class on many short flights. Check what type of plane you’ll be flying, and then look at reviews and photos to see what type of seat you’ll get and things like Wi-Fi and in-seat power. You should also check what is included in your ticket, as many airlines now offer light fares, which may not include items such as lounges or baggage. Seats are also important.
The cut-off point for the flight time an airline will put on a long-haul flight for tablets can vary widely. So what seems like a great price may end up landing you a European short-haul seat, which is similar to economy, but with a spare middle seat instead of the flat bed you want.
If there’s a small savings between two airlines, but one offers a significantly worse product that you have to pay extra for baggage, it’s not worth the savings.
Use search engines to find rates
While many websites offer the best airfares, the best place to start your search is usually Google Flights. It’s worth paying a little more to book directly with the airline than through an online travel agent. This is because in many cases, if something goes wrong, such as cancellations or missed connections, the airline will not talk to you or insist that you contact a travel agent. Then you find that you can’t get through to a person or they want to charge you extra for a refund. Another issue is that notifications such as delays and cancellations are often not relayed through the online agency. It is common for someone to arrive at the airport to find out that the flight was canceled hours or days in advance and the agent never told them.
The best feature of using Google Flights is that you can search for different departure points and destinations to quickly compare prices between different airports. For example, you might want to fly to Los Angeles but plan to visit Palm Springs. There may be a cheaper offer to Palm Springs so you can work your plans around that. The best way to search is to enter a range of departure points and then enter a country such as Italy or Continent under Destination to see all the airports in that area.
If you are flexible with dates, you can select Flexible dates in the next six months and choose how long you want to go. Another option is to search by a specific month. Otherwise, you can select specific dates. If you’re a little flexible, you can look at a bar chart or a grid of dates with prices if you use a specific date initially.
You will then be shown a map of all the cheapest fares available during that period. You can filter by various other options such as airline alliances and flight times.
If you don’t find what you want, you can also use Google to track prices, so you’ll be alerted if the price drops or starts to rise.
follow me Twitter or LinkedIn. Check it out my website.