Flight tickets are an excusable expense while planning any trip, especially an international trip and cheap flights are the toughest to find. And more often than not, it is these very flight tickets to the best of the destinations that cost us a bomb and account for a majority of the travel expense.
Take for example Argentina, return flights to Argentina are likely to cost you around INR 1,04,000- 1,20,000/- The internal cost of living, food and transport on the other hand is extremely cheap.
Closer to home, flight tickets to Vietnam on most days cost around 28,000/- (equivalent to tickets to Paris sometimes) but the cost of living in Vietnam is actually so low, that it happens to be one of the cheapest and most affordable travel destinations in the world!
How is it possible for a common man, like you and me to save money on flight tickets?
Well, to begin with I’d like to help you with some easy hacks.
As tempting as the idea of cheap tickets sounds, it’s important to start booking your flights or considering your vacation only after you’ve done basic research about the destination of your choice. This will save you from getting rained out, hungry, or stuck in an overcrowded touristy situation. Most importantly, look out for the political situations and current affairs of the destination you plan on visiting. Cheap flight tickets are no good if the season is bad, so do your homework well!
2. Start looking for tickets as early as you consider taking a trip
Whenever I start considering a trip or a destination for my travels, subconsciously my first step is to look up ticket prices across some of the trusted websites/ applications.
For eg: Parichay booked his Iceland tickets at least 10 months in advance. As a result, he got his tickets for INR 38,000/- which typically cost anything above INR 55,000/-
3. I use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flight tickets
One of my favorite applications to book tickets is undoubtedly is Skyscanner. Especially because it allows me to look up options like Cheapest Destinations in the time frame of my choice, Cheapest tickets available across the year for the destination of my choice. It also comes with the regular features like filters, departure times, etc. Don’t forget to set alerts!
4. Set price alerts for cheap flights
Flight ticket pricing is a dynamic algorithm. It keeps changing on a regular basis, depending on multiple factors. If you’ve observed the trend well enough, you’re likely to figure the average pricing range. However, you cannot be too sure of the costing until you have finally made your bookings!
Most ticket booking portals/ applications allow you to set price alerts. This means, the application/ portal will send an email/ push notification notifying you of the change (drop) in costs. This will help you make the most of price drops!
5. Compare flight costs across multiple websites
When it comes to booking tickets, most of us have our preference in websites. Some prefer booking directly through the airlines, some get a better deal from agents. The key rule before you book your tickets is to compare it across multiple sites.
Some of the sites that I refer to for comparison are- Skyscanner, Kayak, Akbar Travels, Cheap flights, also, look out for the additional discount codes available and take into consideration the final pricing.
6. Block Your Tickets
Blocking tickets is one of my favorite tricks while booking flights. If happen to chance upon a really good deal, but I am unsure of the destination or timing, I simply go ahead with the ticket booking.
Once I have submitted my personal details, I shut the site before providing my payment details.
This automatically blocks tickets in my name and gives me 48 hours window to complete my payment.
Which means, I get 48 hours to consider my decision and to look out for competitive pricing or alternatives while my ticket remains locked at the deal that I booked it for. Please note: This facility is available by default for most airline companies, however many might not offer the same or their payment window might differ.
7. Watch out for airline sales
This one’s quite a no brainer! We all love a good sale season & in the airline ticketing business, there happen to be many! Watch out for airline ticket sales round the year to bag the best deals for your vacations. You could plan your vacation in advance or decide a vacation basis the best deal the sale has to offer!
One of the best ways to find cheap flights is by also keeping in mind the discount codes, coupons and other sales offers.
However, the bottom line of all hacks for best cheap flight deals remain research and watching out for the trends.
Start watching out for the costing much in advance to ensure you don’t fall for the wrong kind of sale traps either!
8. Opt for full service flights to international destinations
It is highly essential to understand the inclusions of your ticket while flying. I remember buying a cheap flights deal to Istanbul via Fly Dubai and was taken aback to find out that except for my luggage everything else would come with extra costs- seat selection, inflight entertainment, water, food. Luckily for me, it was a late-night flight and I had a pack of Dorritos on me.
I later found out, that International budget airlines like Air Asia, Fly Dubai, Ryan Air tend to charge extra for luggage, seat selection, inflight meals/ beverages, etc. (Sometimes, you need to buy headphones to enjoy inflight entertainment)
So before buying that super cheap ticket, watch out for the exclusions!
9. Count all the additional charges
Talking of exclusions, make sure you calculate all the additional charges. For eg, an Air Asia ticket from BOM-DEN is likely to cost approx. INR 9500/- Including the taxes, luggage, food the costs are likely to go up to approx. 22000/- per ticket. This happens to be in a price range similar to other full-service airlines such as Singapore Air and Malindo Air.
However, what I love about these airlines apart from their superior service is that they charge a one-time ticket cost and include all the services with excellent hospitality! This helps in avoiding miscalculation in budgets.
Also consider flight change and cancellation charges for safety purpose.
10. Consider longer layover flights
For some reason, I belong to the rare breed of people who love long layovers! Probably because I love everything about airports. Hence, I am likely to pick flights with at least 5hours of layover before my next flight.
One of the biggest advantage of long layovers is that the flight tickets are cheaper, compared to direct flights or short flights.
Another major advantage of long layovers is that if you’re flying by the national carrier of certain countries (Qatar Airways/ Turkish Airlines) you can avail a free tour of the city organized by the airline. These could also include transit visa.
In places like Hong Kong (tourist visa)/ Colombo (transit visa), Indians get a free 48 hours Transit Visa (14 days in case of Hong Kong) if pre-registered which allows you to go around the city/ country without additional works!
You see, your layover cannot just save costs towards your actual destination but also provide an additional trip!
11. Study your layover rules well
At the same time, it’s extremely important to be well versed with your layover rules. In case of doubts and queries, connect with your respective airlines for clarity. Most countries do not demand a Transit visa if you don’t plan to leave the airport. But countries like Australia need you to have a Transit visa even if you’re passing by without leaving the airport.
In key cities like London and Dubai, which have a second airport, you may require a Transit visa if your connecting flight departs from the airport other than the one where you have landed.
Some countries also offer free VISA and Visa on arrival depending on the airline and passport and the presence of US/UK/Schengen visa.
Be well versed with the details to avoid any last-minute troubles!
12. Avoid flying on holidays and weekends (higher demand= higher ticket prices)
Needless to say, if you have the flexibility, avoid travelling on weekends and a day prior to major holidays. Shift your travel dates by a couple of days to get a better deal on cheap flights. For holiday bookings, the earlier you book the better it is for your pocket.
Also, one of my favorite travel hacks is flying on Tuesday makes for cheaper tickets.
13. Consider a break journey
This one’s a little crazy and tedious but consider booking two flights separately. The first flight should be to a key airport towards the destination and the second one to the destination from that airport.
For eg: While heading to a European destination, most flights go via Dubai or Paris. Flights from India to Dubai are usually cheap. You could book a flight from Dubai to the destination and back.
This could be tricky, as you need the flights to be well spaced to go through the complete process, hence tedious.
But you could easily save a good 10K or more on the complete ticket.
Like I earlier mentioned, watch the trend and compare before you take a call on booking cheap flights.
14. Sign up for loyalty programs
Trust me, most airlines are looking for your database and try various methods to get you to join their loyalty program! Do it, for it comes with multiple benefits, including upgrades and gifts.
The Jet Privilege program is one of my favorite loyalty programs thanks to it’s all round approach. Other than flying by Jet Airways, I could also link my account to Tripadvisor and earn miles for every approved review. I could also make miles through the various credit card offers associated with the program.
The result of this participation could range from gifts, upgrades to even free flight tickets! Hell, why not?
These are some of my favorite and day-to-day hacks to score cheap flights! And these hacks are undoubtedly a must to keep travelling and satiating your inner wanderlust!
Do you have any hacks to share?
Let me know in the comments below.
This article was first published on Awara Diaries.