Flight tickets can take a big chunk of your holiday budget. These 12 TOP tips that I use should help you to find flight tickets that suit your budget, save time and money.
There we go….
1. Search Engines
Search engines are great to shop around and our favourites are Skyscanner and Kayak. I use them to find the best dates, times, routes and prices, then I book directly though the selected airline website. The other search engine that I have recently come across is Momondo. I will let you know how I get one with it.
There are some searching engines (e.g. Expedia) that will have inflated flight costs due to the cut they need to take and thus I always check on the airline website too. They’re lots of third party websites selling flight tickets and I usually avoid them. If you don’t know the website, don’t use it or make sure it is part of ATOL & ABTA protected schemes (logos should appear on their website, if they are).
The other benefit of search engines is the flexible search. You can select to show prices for the whole month and this way to select the best days. Kayyak goes even further and can show cheapest tickets in a season or even a year. Also, if you have not decided where to go, you can choose the cheapest destination for the time you want to travel. If using Skyscanner, select destination as ‘everywhere’. If using Kayyak, select option ‘Explore’.
CAUTION-Search engines will not include all airline websites and the number and type of airline websites can vary between search engines. Therefore, if I need to buy internal flights, e.g. in Thailand-AirAsia, I find out what is the local airline and use their website rather than search engines.
2. Flexibility pays off
Flexibility with your dates will be the most important factor in saving you money on flight tickets! The difference in a day or two could save lots. Simply, flight dates and times that people don’t like travelling are the cheapest ones.
Time of the year
As you suspect, the best deals will be available during the low (off) season, outside festive seasons (e.g. Christmas, Easter) and school-holiday times or just after the festive season. Every destination has a peak time, so check that before planning the trip. For Europe trips, I try to organise them in spring or autumn when it is less popular and it works great because it will be less touristy too. I avoid (if I can) August and July when everyone wants to visit Europe.
However, then going outside Europe you wan to keep in mind the weather. Another. We travelled to Thailand at the beginning of the moon (rain) season as people avoid travelling during rain season for obvious reasons. It was the best decision- saved lots on flight tickets, accommodation, and attractions and had very few rainy days. However, I would not travel there in the mid of rain season, even if the flight tickets were very cheap. Same with beach holidays, I wouldn’t be pursued to buy cheap tickets during the time when it is cold there. So, keep in mind the season and weather when booking flight tickets.
Day and time of the flight
Cheaper tickets are more likely to be for unsociable hours and less popular days of the week. So don’t shy away from early morning or late-night flights as it can save you money. Also, try to travel during the week Tuesday and Wednesday tend to be the cheapest days whereas Friday and Sunday the most expensive. If you travel for a week, try to search for Tuesday-to-Tuesday or Wednesday-to-Wednesday. Monday, Thursday, and Saturday are usually in the middle of the price range.
Booking very early or very late not necessarily will save you money. I usually book 3-4months before the trip.
I always check prices at nearby airport. Remember that you travel begins the minute you leave you house, so take into consideration the expense for getting to/from the airport. If the ticket is slightly cheaper at further away airport, probably it is not worth going for it, as the saving will be swamped by the expense of getting to the airport.
4. Buying for a group
I quite often travel in a group of two or more and I guess many of you do too. So it is absolutely normal when searching for flight tickets to select the number of the group, e.g. 4, and go with the search. STOP! If you do this way, then the cheapest one, two or even three tickets will not come up. I do this way- I check the price for a single traveller and then for the group. If there is no difference, then I proceed with the group tickets. If the single is cheaper, I first buy the single cheaper ticket(s) and then for the rest of the group.
5. Single or Return
When I search I compare prices for single and return tickets. Quite often I found that it is cheaper to buy two single tickets from different airlines rather than automatically going for a return ticket type, e.g. going out with Ryanair and coming back with EasyJet. Single tickets also give you opportunity to travel from different airports, which is great when you don’t stay in one place during the holiday.
6. Long-haul flights
There are many options to buy long-haul flights.
- Buy direct long-haul flight that is probably the most convenient way and sometimes can get a good value.
- Buy flight with a connection from the same airline. It is the second most convenient option. Also, it is secure, as any delays resulting in you missing the connection will be covered by the airline.
- Buy the flight with connection from a third party website but flights are with two different airlines. This is the least preferred option because if you miss the connection it is on you. Good luck with getting compensation or help from the third party website. Of course, if you have travel insurance, you are in better place in case you miss the flight.
- Buy two separate tickets yourself rather than from the third party company, e.g. Manchester to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Thailand. If you buy to separate tickets, make sure that the layover time is long enough! Don’t book tickets with tight layover, e.g. 1 or 2 hours, as you may not make the connection and loose the money. Remember that you would need to collect the luggage from the first flight and check into the second one. So the layover time is very important, if you buy this way. Even for a single ticket (same airline, one booking) long-haul flight with connection, I look for at least 1.5h layover. This option of buying long-haul flight legs separately would be better for someone who wants to add an extra destination to they holiday, e.g. day or more in Amsterdam.
Also, it is worth enquiring the price of your selected long-haul flight with travel agents as they can have access to special flights prices.
7. Hand-luggage travel
If you want to keep your flight ticket price low, travel with hand luggage only. This works best for non long-haul flights. The exception is Wizzair because they class the standard hand luggage as ‘big hand-luggage’ and charge you extra. So, if I travel with partner and both of us need ‘big hand luggage’ we opt for one check in luggage.
I find to travel with hand luggage much easier. For instance we travelled to Thailand from UK with hand luggage and had several cheap domestic flights, e.g. Bangkok to Phuket , Krabi to Cheng Mai, and the price was kept low as we did not need to pay for extra luggage. Also, you spent less time in airports with hand luggage.
8. Local currency
Prices of flight tickets can vary depending on the currency. I always try to check the price in the local currency to see if it is cheaper. However, if you buy in a local currency make sure you have a credit card that does not charge you for foreign-transaction fees. If your card charges you, then obviously all savings are lost and you may end up paying more that in your currency. We use Halifax Clarity and about money while travelling a bit later.
9. Money back!
Have you signed up for one of cash-back schemes? If you shop online, I strongly encourage getting a cash-back scheme account. So before booking the flight tickets check, if cash-back is offered. It is a small saving but still a saving. We don’t shop online much but still get around £150 per year through the cash-back account. We use Quidco but there are many other available, e.g. TopCashback.
Other way is to sign-up to the frequent flier miles schemes. Airlines or credit card providers offer these. You collect the miles as you shop and then spend it on flights! I am currently using Flying Blue, so will see when I get enough miles to get a free flight (hope it is soon!).
10. Time of the search
There is much debate about the day of the week and time of the day to search for flight tickets. Some people truly believe in it and some call it a myth. It is for you to decide, if it is worth trying. A recent BBC show and many blogs on the holiday saving tips highlight that flight ticket sales and prices are reviewed on Mondays and new prices come out on Tuesdays. So, Tuesday should be the day with the highest possibility of getting cheapest tickets. Is it true? I do not know but worth trying it out.
11. Travel websites
I like to check travel websites for holiday inspirations and deals. My favourite is Holiday Pirates. They don’t sell anything; they just highlight the beast holiday deals available and you can adjust them to your needs.
12. Go Incognito (or not) !
Before you click the buy flight tickets button you probably spent couple days or even weeks searching for them online. Have you noticed that the price changed (more precisely increased!) after several searches on your browser? Did you panic and bought them in fear that the price would increase even further? Well, I have done it in the past…
Every website has cookies and thus your search information is saved and retrieved later. If you frequently repeat the search, the price of the ticket can increase to encourage you buying them. The way around it is always delete your cookies before doing the search. Or even better is to go Incognito (sounds like a song name)! Incognito is private browsing or privacy mode that disables browsing history and the web catches; so your searches will not be saved and you are likely to get lower or at least the same price on the next search.
How often this helps, I don’t know. Some people argue that there is no difference in using private or normal mode and maybe there isn’t. However, I have experienced the price increase on two occasions and thus I always clear cookies before doing a new search. It takes only second to do it anyway.
You will need to invest time in finding the best flight ticket prices!
What are your saving tips? Share in comments 🙂