When it comes to booking cheap international flights, even the most experienced travelers have issues knowing when the best time is to book. The truth is, you can research flight prices all you like, but when it comes to booking, you are always going to have to take a bit of a gamble. But to help you stay on the right track, I have compiled a list of tips, which in my own experience have been extremely helpful!
Start looking early
If you start looking early (up to a year in advance), it’s easier to get a feel for what constitutes a good price versus a bad price for the journey you are after. This way, you can get a feel for how much prices generally fall and rise, and you’ll know what a good price looks like when you’re ready to book. Don’t book right away, though. When airlines drop their fares, others are likely to do so too, shortly after. Prices also change depending on the day of the week, so keep an eye out for general trends. In saying this, however …
… When you see a good deal, grab it!
I have made this mistake, many, MANY a time. I start looking, watch prices for a while, then come across a good deal, but I always think, “what if it gets even cheaper?” The truth is, the chance that a good deal will get even cheaper is much smaller than the chance that you miss out and the price goes up! If you have followed the above tip, and found what looks like a great deal, then strike while the iron is hot!
Be flexible with dates
It’s amazing how much of a difference just a day or two can make! If at all possible, check out the prices of flights +/-5 days of the date you would ideally like to travel on, and you might find yourself saving hundreds of dollars. Also, flights are generally cheaper at unpopular times or on unpopular days of the week, so if your schedule allows it, try traveling at these times (middle of the week, Saturdays, at the crack of dawn).
Be flexible in general
A small inconvenience can save you a whole lot of money. Although you might want to reach your destination as fast as possible, flights with connections or transfers are generally a lot cheaper than direct flights. This also applies to flights with long layover times.
Also, you can save a lot of money if you are willing to sacrifice comforts like in flight meals and entertainment. Many budget airlines offer screens and food for an extra cost, so keep the price low by opting out of these options in favour of a homemade sandwich and your iPod instead.
Never just look at one airline. Shop around! Use sites designed to compare airlines, my favourite is skyscanner.com. You can see the best prices of all major airlines side by side, providing a good comparison based on factors such as duration of the flight, how many layovers and more.
Happy flight booking!