A lot of us are keen on exploring exotic destinations around the world and in our own country, but most of us keep pushing out on our travels due to exorbitant air fares and especially during the holiday season, when most of us get leave from work. But, based on my personal experience, I have found out that there are ways to find that cheap flight if you keep the below mentioned tips is mind and practice them diligently. After all, the flights on international circuits are sometimes cheaper than the domestic ones in India
1) Be flexible with your travel dates and days
Most airlines get filled up quickly for Friday through Monday and not so much during the middle of the week. This makes flights on Tuesday through Thursday comparatively cheaper than the other flights. Due to certain load factors, holidays or festivals, flight tickets on certain dates may be expensive. In such cases, look for a flight a day or two before after those dates. You might get much cheaper rates.
2) Look out for last minute deals
If you already have a visa to a country or know that you will get a visa on arrival, booking a flight at the last moment might be the cheapest option for you. Lots of airlines flatten their prices to ensure that their flights run full and generally such air fare slashes happen 4 to 6 days before the actual departure. I have taken such last minute flights and have ended up paying between $15 to $25, when the normal prices are in the range of $100 to $150.
3) Subscribe to airline newsletters
If you have a destination or a region in mind, identify the best full service and low cost airlines plying that belt and subscribe to their email newsletters. Most airlines share their deals and offers first with their newsletter customers. For example, if you are looking at Malaysia and Singapore, subscribe to Air Asia and Tiger Air newsletters, two of the best low cost airlines in the region and you will be surprised that you can actually fly a 3 hour flight for less than $25.
4) Take off peak hour flights
The flights that have the most convenient time slots are generally the most expensive too. And that is why I prefer to take these late night or early morning flights, which end up being much cheaper as not a lot of people prefer to travel at such hours. These flights can make you more tired, but it definitely helps in saving valuable dollars. I always prefer to take such flights and recover at leisure at my destination.
5) Fly to a low cost airport or hub
Most of the larger and more established airports charge a heftier fee to the airlines, which makes the airlines raise the ticket prices and that is precisely why a lot of low cost airlines prefer to fly into a low cost airline hub. Such low cost airline hubs can be within the same city, but in a different airport or be located a short drive outside the city. Let me give you some examples. If you are flying into Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, the low cost airlines fly into the Don Mueng International airport at Bangkok and LCCT terminal at Kuala Lumpur respectively. These airports exist in the same cities, but come with lesser facilities and lesser connectivity options. Here’s another example. If you are planning to fly into Manila, a lot of full service airlines fly into the Nino Aquino International Airport in Manila, but if you want to look for a low cost airline, they fly into Clark International Airport, located about 2 hours outside of Manila.
The idea is to find such low cost hubs and airports and fly into those and take other forms of commute from there to reach your main city. This might mean spending a little bit more time, but it helps saving a lot of travel dollars.
6) Compare prices across multiple travel sites
Gone are those days when one travel site used to provide the best price. Each one has their unique search algorithm and results, which means that a particular travel site might not be the cheapest one at all times. It is best if you search across many. Personally, I use Skyscanner.net and Momondo.com for international and domestic travel and Cleartrip.com, Yatra.com and Makemytrip.com for domestic travel in India. But, my favorite is Skyscanner as their features are very helpful to me.
7) Book round trips with the same airline
This happens a lot in India and with some international locations. A lot of airlines offer special round trip fares that are discounted from their one-way fares. Such schemes work when you are flying in and out of the same destination. For example, I am flying to Guwahati in North East India in the 2nd week of November to go into Bhutan. Since, my point of entry and exit to/from Bhutan is near Guwahati, I could afford to book this round trip from Bangalore to Guwahati. This helped me get a round trip fare that was 40% cheaper than 2 separate one way fares.
8) Plan in advance
Finally, the most traditional and the most accurate way to find those cheapest tickets is to plan in advance. This way you might get full service airlines at the cost of low cost airline tickets. If you are one of those who can plan 3 to 6 months into the future, then you can get some fantastic airfares. But, the key is to plan well in advance, which is always very difficult.
Do you have any other tip to find that cheapest flight that you would like to add here based on your personal experience?
P.S. I got the idea for this post from Nomadic Matt, a seasoned backpacker and traveler, but the thoughts in this are purely based on my own experience. Some of them coincide with that of Nomadic Matt.