what is the most important criteria to choose your next destination? For me, it is the availability of cheap flight tickets. After booking a flight ticket, I can arrange the leaves, finances, hostels etc, but getting a cheap air ticket is the first criteria for my international trip. I keep a regular watch on the airfare and whenever fare comes down I usually book that destination. However, I do international travel only once in a year, but to get the best deal, I generally analyze the flight booking sites throughout the year, either for me or for my friends. So, How to get the best available deal in the market? Here are some useful tips that can help you to get a cheap flight to your dream destination:
1. Decide your expected price bracket: Before searching for the cheap airfares, it is always a good practice to decide your expected price bracket. You should have a clear idea that how much you want to pay for a particular flight. There are extreme and continuous fluctuations in airfares till closing of booking for a flight, so you can not predict that when the fare is at minimum. Once you find the fare in your expected price bracket just go ahead and book at that moment. Do not wait for another day.
I was expected to pay INR 20000 for a return flight to Cairo from Delhi. So, when I found a return flight in INR 15000, I did not think twice and booked that immediately, because that was in my price bracket. After 3-days price went up to to INR 28000 for the same flight.
2. Search on multiple online portals: Check multiple online portals to get the best price. At least check three flight booking sites before booking your flight ticket. Some portals do not include low cost airlines in their flight search, so you should also aware of that fact. Some portals offer certain discount on an airfare that may not be offered by another portal.
When I was booking the return airfare to Cairo, I found that two portals were offering almost the same price (second portal price was INR 300 higher), but second portal was offering an additional discount of about INR 1500 on a particular bank credit card, so I got the cheaper ticket on the second portal in comparison to the first portal.
Also, sometimes when you go on a particular airline’s website to book a ticket, there is an option to select your country. If you select your country other than the airline home country, you may get a ticket at higher price. This is what happened to me when I booked a flight from Cairo to Aswan on EgyptAir. When I selected India as my country, the fare was about INR 7500, but when I selected Egypt as my country I paid about 480 EGP (approx. 4100 INR) for the same flight. This was a huge difference.
For the same flight when I searched on the portals like makemytrip and yatra, they also showed INR 7500 approx. as the ticket price, but when I searched it on kayak, I saw the price was INR 3900. However, I booked it on EgyptAir website in INR 4100 approx. as kayak also directed me to that site only.
3. Book on Airlines Portal: At least in the case of domestic flights, it is always advisable to book on the airlines’ website unless flight engines offer huge discounts. This way, you may get cheaper fare by INR 300-400 in comparison to booking on any portal. This also helps you to save INR 500 service cost deducted by those portals in case of flight cancellation or reschedule.
4. Use Your Credit Card: Sometimes using a credit card from a particular bank also helps you to get some discount on your flight ticket. It also helps you to pay the ticket price in EMIs later on, if you are not able to pay the price at that moment. If you have a travel card from any bank, then after sometime you can also use the points and miles earn by you to buy a ticket later on. Having a credit card from a particular bank helped me to save INR 1500 on my Delhi-Cairo return ticket.
5. Be Flexible on Your Travel Dates: As far as possible, be flexible on your dates. If you are going on a holiday, you can adjust your date of departure and arrival by one or two days. This always help you to get cheap air tickets. You may get a cheaper air tickets, if your flight is on Tuesday or Wednesday and costlier tickets if your flight is on Friday or Sunday. Similarly, during the high festive seasons, if you do not book wisely, you may ended up by paying more due to rush. This is the season when there were discounts as well as high price fares on board at the same time, so book wisely.
6. Book Early: Always book at least 6-8 weeks in advance before your date of departure. This is the best way to get the cheapest possible flights. You may get a higher price before this period as well as after this period. So, this is an ideal period to book a flight, but my suggestion is always the first point…whenever you get a particular fare within your expected price, don’t wait, book that immediately, may be 5 months, 8 months in advance. You will never regret your decision.
7. Book Alternate Airport to Your Destination: Some low cost airlines prefer to fly to small airports in the neighborhood , rather than flying to a popular airport. If you want to go to Hong Kong, it is cheaper to book a fare to Macau and then take a ferry from Macau to Hong Kong. This way you can see another destination with cheaper flight tickets. Similarly, if you want to go to Dubai, you may get a cheaper air ticket to Sharjah in comparison to Dubai and from Sharjah, you can easily reach to Dubai.
8. If Possible, Prefer Connecting Flights: Connecting flights are always cheaper than the direct flights. But, choice of connecting flight always depends on the connection time and visa requirement in a transit country. If my connection is within 3-4 hours and there is no requirement of transit visa, then I do not feel any problem to buy that connecting flight.
9. Look Out For the Inaugural Flights: Inaugural flights are always cheaper upto one month at least from the date of inauguration. So, always have an idea if a particular airline is going to fly on a new route or any new airline is coming to your nearest airport. This is always the best bet to get a cheap air ticket. Introductory return flight of IndiGo to Bangkok was in INR 9999 from Delhi and introductory return flight of SpiceJet to Guangzhou was in INR 18000 only.
10. Subscribe to the Airfare Newsletter: This is also a good way to know about the cheap flight tickets. Subscribe to the newsletters from portals like airfarewatchdog, and from the airlines like AirAsia, Saudi Arabian Airlines etc to get the first news of airfare sales.
These tips do not guarantee you the cheapest available airfare in the market. There are many factors counting towards the price of an airfare. But, if you combine these tips in your flight search and use them wisely, there is a strong possibility to get the best available airfare in the market.