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Do you know how to book cheap flights? Well, we’ve just booked ours and now we’re going on our long awaited adventure.
I don’t know about you but this is only the second time I’ve flown overseas and booking the tickets was very exciting. For some reason though, I feel like it’d never stop being exciting.
Because of our lack of experience in the whole ticket booking process for going overseas, we used a travel agent. Since booking the tickets through the travel agent I’ve done a lot more research on it and have booked all our flights myself. I’ve gotten some really good deals & some not so good deals. Here are some tips I’ve discovered for helping you to book cheap flights.
As I mentioned above, we got our tickets through a travel agent. One of my friends had just finished her training and was fresh in the job. I’m pretty sure it was her very first day on the job when I contacted her, what better way to learn than to be put on task straight away.
She was great, gave us all our options and dealt with all our changes very patiently. The beauty of booking through a travel agent is their years of knowledge and experience or the access to someone with years of knowledge and experience. They also have access to special deals that you might not normally be able to find or even know to look for.
We only booked our flights through the agent as we are still working out what we are going to be doing while over there.
We ended up choosing to go with Etihad. Which I have only heard good things about. We had a choice of going with quite a few & we almost chose one that cost more purely because we would have gotten a lot of point on the Qantas card. Pretty glad we didn’t do that, as it would have cost an extra grand for $400 worth of points! Definitely not worth it.
I’ve been reading about the ‘Etihad Experience’ and it sounds fantastic, and so it should be considering they have scored an industry gong for “world’s leading airline” six years running. If you are interested, you can read my full review of our Etihad economy flight experience here.
If you haven’t flown Etihad before and want to give it a go you should definitely check out some of the deals they currently have going.
Ok, so what have I discovered since booking our flights:
When To Buy Your Tickets
There’s a bit of debate on this. I’ve always been told that the further away from the flight the better, and this is what we did to book ours. But since then I have read in several different locations that the best time is actually 6-8 weeks out, according to Economist, Makoto, Watanabe (eight weeks) & the Airlines Reporting Group (who say six weeks).
Turns out, buying them as soon as you can to get a good deal is just a myth. The ordeal of when to buy your tickets is a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Too soon and they cost too much, too late and they are going back up, but somewhere in between they’re just right!
If you buy them too early you’ll end up kicking yourself as the prices drop (insert me into this category). Also, when the tickets are first released the airlines put the price at a higher amount in anticipation of expected demand. Don’t buy them too late because you’ll end up just watching the prices climb back up as that last minute demand grows again.
So typically, the best time to buy them is 1 to 3 months out from your departure date, with a sweet spot of 6-8 weeks, or so hear-say says. Honestly, these times are far from absolute, but it remains a solid guideline for those looking to avoid paying over the top prices.
When To Fly
Buying at the right time helps to lower the bill but so does the day you chose to fly on.
Most people want to fly on a Friday, after the work week, so they have the whole weekend & back on Sundays. This jacks the price up significantly. Often Thursday’s get hit with the price rise as well (though not as bad as Friday), with people wanting to extend their weekend. I often end up choosing to fly on a Tuesday or a Thursday
Unfortunately, the best time to fly is on the days that no-one wants to fly on. Tuesday, Wednesday & Saturday. Smack in the middle of the week or the weekend, these days are typically less popular for travellers so are often considerably cheaper.
This is great news if you go on smaller trips while on holidays & it doesn’t matter what day you fly. Or if you work for yourself & it doesn’t matter when you go away!
Another way to save a bit of cash is to fly the red-eye. We recently did when we went over to Perth, WA. We got a late flight on the Friday night & then a super late flight on the Monday after. It killed us in the sleep department but we paid less for 2 return tickets than what I’ve paid previously for just 1 return ticket!
Finding The Best Flight
It’s a pretty daunting process trying to find the best flights for your holiday. Especially when a lot of the time it can cost you thousands of dollars. I think this is what put me off booking my own flights and going with a travel agent. I also didn’t feel confident enough to book the flights myself. What if I booked the wrong day? Or if we needed some sort of special connecting flight or something, I don’t know. It just felt too hard.
Next time I’m going to bite the bullet and do it myself. There’s no better way to learn than actually doing something. To help me get ready I’ve been looking at a few sites which help you to compare the best deals available.
These following three sites have been recommended by Scott Keyes, reporter for Think Progress and author of the e-books “How To Fly For Free” & “How To Find Cheap Flights“. As his book titles suggest, he is an expert at finding affordable flights.
Theflightdeal.com shares flights that have been miss-priced by the airline and are only up for a couple of hours at most before they realise and fix them. You can get notifications from the website by signing up to their Newsletter, Facebook or Twitter feeds. These are flights that you need to act on straight away. Ultimately the key to cheap airfare is flexibility.
Unfortunately for us here is Aus, this site is for the US only.
Skiplagged is a search engine that will find you the cheapest flight to your city of choice including “throw away tickets.”
“Throw away tickets” is a whole new eye opener for me! How they work is you buy a ticket to a less popular place (which are often a lot cheaper because of the lower demand) that has a stopover in the city you actually want to go to. Instead of continuing on to the final destination you get off at the first stop and “throw away” the last part of the ticket.
You need to be careful though and make sure you don’t check in any luggage because it’ll head to the final destination of the booked ticket. And don’t book a round trip, because once you throw away one part of the trip the rest of it will cancel out as well.
This site is by far my most used. It brings up cheap flights that no other search engines have found. You select the flight you’re after & it directs you to where you need to go to book the flight.
ITA Matrix is a no frills way to find the cheapest possible flight thanks to its handy calendar index which allows users to see the best possible itinerary. This site is great for booking those weekend away trips. Because of the calendar index, you can see what the best deals are on the days around when you are planning on flying.
You can’t book through this engine. But it produces an itinery with all the appropriate codes for you to print off and hand to your travel agent.
So those are the sites that the pro recommends and I’ll definitely be giving them a go in the future.
Now I’ll share some sites that I have used for most of my domestic travel and have been happy with my results.
On Iwantthatflight.com.au you can purchase your fares directly from the airline or from their partners. They find the best deals available, some of which are cheaper than what you’ll find on the airline’s website.
Great for booking flight & accommodation deals.
I’m sure everyone has heard of wotif.com and if you haven’t you’ve been living in a bubble! They give you great deals on flights, accommodation, tours & more.
Points To Take Away
Buy your tickets 6-8 weeks out from your departure date.
If you can, fly on the days that are the least popular. Tuesday, Wednesday & Saturday.
I hope these tips will help you book some super cheap flights in the future, I know they’ll help me!
Oh, & once you’ve booked your destination, you should definitely use Air BnB to book your accommodation. We have had nothing but great experiences and you get to choose from a wide range of quality places. From a single room in someone’s house to a whole house all to yourselves.
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