For the past 12 years, I’ve been working in the travel industry. A big part of my job involves putting together great flight deals - and working out what incentivizes customers to click the purchase button.
With that being said, you could say that I know how to find travel bargains that travellers actually care about. Here are ten travel hacks that will help you to score a super cheap flight.
#1 Mix and match airlines
Booking with two different airlines for your outgoing and incoming flights can sometimes be cheaper than buying a round trip with the same airline. Compare airlines side by side using an online price aggregator, and pick the flights that suit your budget and timings. As a bonus, you can find more convenient travel times!
#2 Book early morning or late night flights
Although this may be tricky if you’re travelling with kids, early morning or late night flights can often be cheaper. Travelling at less popular times throughout the year will also allow you to score cheaper plane tickets, as opposed to if you were travelling during peak periods.
#3 Don’t fly direct
If you’re a flexible traveller and don’t mind going a little out of your way, you should consider adding a stopover to make your flight cheaper. This is particularly great for those looking to travel in business class for a cheaper rate. Choose a destination that you won’t mind spending a couple of hours (or even a couple of days) in. Best of all, you’ll get to experience an amazing business class lounge at your stopover.
#4 Bundle flights with your accommodation
Booking your flights at the same time as booking your accommodation is bound to save you money. Holiday packages can provide you with fantastic incentives and bonuses, like offering significant discounts and awesome inclusions that you’d never receive from just booking flights alone. You’ll save a lot if you bundle your flights, accommodation and car hire, as opposed to if you were booking all of these separately.
#5 Pay using PayPal or BPay
Avoid using a credit card when you purchase flights so you don’t attract booking fees - these little sneaky charges can really add up! Instead, opt to use PayPal or BPay as these payment methods normally don’t incur a fee. However, you should always check the fine print when booking flights to avoid nasty surprises!
#6 Search using incognito mode
Many search engines use technology to track your browsing history and search terms. This can actually increase the price of your airfares if it knows you’ve visited the site before and are serious about booking your travel. Search for your flights in incognito mode or clear your cookies to ensure you’re always being shown the best prices.
#7 Be flexible with your travel dates and times
Airfares vary significantly depending on the day and time of year you’re travelling. For example, holiday periods such as Christmas, New Year and Easter can all affect airline pricing, as well as peak seasons and other holiday periods. Consider travelling in ‘shoulder seasons’ where prices are typically lower than peak season, or alternate your travel dates so you’re flying during the week, rather than on a weekend.
#8 Make friends with budget airlines
While budget airlines do lack some of the comfort and service found on luxury carriers, they definitely make up for it with their cheaper prices. So, if you don’t mind packing your own toiletries, food, and entertainment, then flying with a budget airline will offer you serious savings. Many people fear that budget airlines aren’t safe, however, this is false. All airlines have to pass the same safety testing and regulatory procedures, regardless of the price they sell their seats for.
#9 Book well in advance
You can book plane tickets up to 11 months in advance, which is the perfect time to book for exotic or far-away locations that are generally more expensive to fly to. Typically, airlines will increase their prices as the travel date gets nearer, so it’s always best to book ahead. A well-known sweet spot is usually six to eight months in advance.
#10 Subscribe to travel company newsletters and follow them on social media
Travel companies will often use email direct marketing (EDMs) and social media to market themselves and let their most loyal customers know about their best holiday deals early. Sign up, and you’ll likely find some of the hottest deals across amazing destinations, with discounts on holiday packages, complimentary upgrades, free nights and bonus inclusions like resort credit and spa vouchers.
Naturally, it also pays to compare online deals when you have a destination in mind. Here are some good places to bookmark and check when you have a trip coming up.
Glenn Checkley is the owner and director of TravelOnline and has been working in the travel industry for the past 12 years.