Need to travel by air, but the dizzy heights of the ticket prices making you sweat? Here are some simple ways to make sure you get a great deal each time you fly.
21 till I fly!
Travel gurus believe that you can get the best deal on your flight if you book 21 days before the day of departure.
Air travel has become more of a necessity for most of us rather than a luxury. It helps to save on time, and is not as stressful as some other ways to travel. What can be quite a heartache though, is the feeling of being ripped off at times by the airlines, or the travel website. But hope still survives!
There is no mojo that can help you get the cheapest deals. What would make for a delightful flight is planning ahead, and considering a few very simple things.
Here are some pointers that should help you buy tickets at the cheapest rate possible.
Day of the Week
If you can, look to fly sometime through the week. Tickets are believed to be the cheapest on Wednesdays, while traveling on Tuesdays and Saturdays too, won't be expensive. Ticket prices are highest on Fridays and Sundays.
Time of the Day
Ticket rates fluctuate up to three times a day. The cheapest times to fly are usually early in the morning, at or just after lunchtime, and during dinner time. If you are looking for even cheaper flights, you might want to carry your coffee mug and deal with bloodshot eyes, 'cos the cheapest flights fly late at night!
You need to consider if the place you are visiting is a popular tourist destination, or if a lot of people tend to travel there. If it is a busy place, the rates are likely to skyrocket if you choose to book within 3 months of the planned date.
Density of Flights
If there are a lot of carriers flying in and out of the place you intend to travel to, you have a lot more options at your disposal. You could probably land yourself a good deal if you opt in for a smaller carrier.
Also, contrary to popular belief, connecting flights aren't necessarily cheaper than non-stop flights, especially over shorter distances.
Time of the Year
Look around to find out the peak season in the area. This is usually around the local festive season or around the time when the weather is most pleasant there. The peak season also depends on the sites, and popular destinations in and around the place you visit.
If, for instance, the place you visit has a very famous waterfall, the peak time ideally would be during the rains. Most people think that going right in at this time would be just perfect to enjoy the beauty of the place. Seasoned travelers would know that the time immediately before and after this peak season is just as good, and at times even better.
Never buy tickets within 14 days from the date of the departure as you would end up paying a premium price for them. All tickets bought within this period are considered as ones for business travelers.
Best Day to Buy:Tuesday Bad Day to Buy:Weekends Best Day to Fly: Wednesday Bad Day to Fly: Friday
Not-so-popular Destination + Not well-Connected
If possible, fly to the nearest place to the one that you want to travel to, and then go in for some other mode of transport (road/water).
Look for a connecting flight, wherein you travel to the nearest major airport with a major airline, and opt for a smaller airline to fly to your destination.
Buy the tickets about 3 months before the planned date of travel.
Popular Destination + Off-season
Not-so-popular Destination + Well-Connected
Try and opt for the smaller carriers.
Plan the trip just before, or immediately after the peak season.
Plan ahead and follow the rates from about 10 weeks from the planned trip.
If the rates haven't changed by much till about the 6th week, and the seats seem to fill in fast, book your tickets. This is probably the safest time to buy the tickets 'cos the prices, if they fall from hereon, would usually go down by a small margin ($20 - $50), whereas the rise could be by a much larger margin ($100 - $250).
Popular Destination + Peak Season
Plan ahead and ideally book the tickets about 3 months in advance.
Try and choose smaller carriers.
Buy the tickets directly from the Carrier. You will be surprised at the rates that the tickets go for if you book the tickets well in advance (3 - 4 months).
Opt to travel during the week, rather than on the weekend.
Try last-minute booking. Often, if there are just a handful of seats remaining a few hours before the flight, they sell for much lesser than the actual price. But, this is a huge gamble, and is not advised if you are going out with your family or have a planned trip.
Look for package deals (flight + hotel) on travel websites, some of which are really good.
For the Frequent Flyers
Sign up for email notifications about the best deals from travel websites.
Follow your airline or travel website on social networking sites as they offer limited time discounts on their social pages.
Flight Search from Bing is a very effective tool to search for some of the best travel deals.
Enroll for Customer Loyalty Programs (frequent-flyer programs). Some of the best deals are offered by the airline for their frequent flyers.
Plan ahead, so that you have ample time to choose the flight and route that best suits you.
Remember, last-moment trips can be loads of fun, but if you plan ahead, you can have a great trip, without the sound of the cash registers ringing in your head! Now that you know the secret, spread your wings out and take to the skies. Bon voyage.