To get the best deal, be flexible with your trip arrangements. The greatest bargains may be available only on specific days of the week or times of the day.
After you’ve received an airfare quotation, ask the bookings agent whether you might save some money by modifying your departure time or traveling on another date entirely. Alternatively, you can ask the agent what is the cheapest flight they propose and what you need to do to be on it.
Look for plane tickets in advance to get the best air fares
As much as possible, plan your trip in advance. Most companies have just a few seats at discounted flight rates for popular destinations. Cheap flight deals frequently sell out quickly. But if a specific route does not sell as well as predicted, airlines may offer cheap flights just before their early-booking deadline passes.
Although planning your budget trip in advance works well in general, you can benefit from last-minute sales if you take the chance to book later. Many airlines offer seats for sale for short periods of time right before the day of departure. It’s impossible to anticipate if and when a flight company will have last-minute tickets available, though. But, as a rule of thumb, these offers tend to appear when plane airline tickets tend to drop (for example in early autumn, when school starts, or right after major holidays).
Plan your trip according to your travel destination
The cost of traveling to a major metropolitan region may vary from one airport to another. For example, if you are traveling to Paris and want to rent a car, only the cost of the airplane ticket will make a difference when you choose to CDG or Beauvais. In addition, a connection flight or a one-stop trip is sometimes less expensive than continuous travel. When trying to get the best air fares, always consider other airports and routes.
Compare the offers of several airline companies
Check all the airlines that have routes to your travel destination, including low-cost airlines. To stay competitive, the big airline companies usually match the rates of low-cost airlines for the same destinations. However, this applies only to a small percentage of seats on a flight.
If you book a low-cost airline, check if you’re really getting your money’s worth or less. Look if they charge extra for benefits like luggage transfers, in-flight meal service, choosing your seat in advance, and so on.
It is important to note that tiny airlines typically have fewer flights to many destinations, and they will not frequently cover your costs to switch to another airline if your trip is delayed or canceled. You may have to wait for another flight the next day or even several days later.
5 other things to consider before booking your flight
1. Discount airfare requirements
Typical requirements for discount fares include:
- Booking a round-trip ticket (cheap one way flights are more difficult to find)
- Purchasing the ticket a certain time in advance – for example, at least two or three weeks before departure
- Buying the ticket the day you made your reservation
- Flying on a specific time of year
- Staying over the weekend
- Traveling for less than a month
- Refund or change restrictions, as detailed below.
Refund or change restrictions
Check your options to cancel or modify your flight, in case it becomes necessary later. In reality, most cheap plane tickets are not refundable, although they can be transformed into credit to purchase additional tickets with the same airline.
When you do make changes, you generally need to pay a fee as well as any difference in costs between the initial flight you booked and the one you’ll actually get on.
2. Contact a travel agent
Consider working with a travel agency. Agents usually get compensated by the flight companies, so it shouldn’t cost you extra to work with them. Only they can inform you about “consolidators“ and other forms of discounts.
On the other hand, consolidator seats may have even stricter restrictions compared to the airlines’ own discounted rates, especially if the trip is canceled or delayed. Occasionally, travel agencies can offer unique discounts or extra services with a certain airline.
Check Public Charters if you want to go to exotic destinations – for example, if you’re looking for a Philipphines airlines ticket. These charters may provide reduced prices, but they come with even more restrictions or requirements.
Inquire if the points of departure and arrival are airline hubs. Because of the lack of competition, prices may be higher in isolated destinations, so it’s worth checking flight offers for nearby cities with more transit. Someone living in a more secluded place may save money by departing from some other city, even with the added cost to get there first.
3. Have a look at vacation packages
Look for vacation packages on flight booking sites or ask your travel agent about them. While the price may seem a lot higher to book a vacation package vs. a simple flight, sometimes you may find a bargain that combines both air tickets and accommodation. Whenever you come upon such offers, take advantage of them! You will enjoy better vacations at a lower cost, staying in amazing hotels and beautiful resorts you never even considered before.
Every week, many airlines send email messages informing customers of last-minute travel discounts for departures within the next several days. For more information about these programs, visit airline booking sites or call their reservations lines. Also, don’t presume that an airline reservation representative or travel agency is aware of the rates made available to email subscribers, so offer all the necessary details yourself when you call.
5. Check for any other discounts that may apply to you
Many airline companies provide a senior discount off any fare to passengers over a particular age. Furthermore, several airlines provide bereavement and emergency illness tickets with various paperwork requirements and discounts.
If you belong to an airline’s frequent-flyer program and are thinking about purchasing a promotional or deep-discount flight, find out if the fare will accumulate frequent-flyer points.
The best air fares may become even better with time
After purchasing your ticket, you may want to phone the airline company or travel agent before your departure to confirm your booking(s) and verify the cost. Fares fluctuate often, and if the same cost drops before you go, some airlines will reimburse the difference. You must request it, though.
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
Featured photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash.