There’s a lot of conflicting travel advice online for finding the cheapest flights, and a lot of advice which is repeated so often it’s now general knowledge; be flexible with your dates, compare flight prices, travel during off season, don’t be afraid of a layover, etc.
But while the same old tips and suggestions pop up across different blogs time and time again, the travel industry evolves at such a rapid pace that every year is different from the one before. The tips and tricks which worked 12 months ago may not be up to date anymore.
So we’ve put together tips based on recent travel trends from the results of the 2016 Annual Flight Study from Momondo. Based on 13 billion fares across the top 100 routes searched for on momondo, this study has some fabulous insight on how you can save, making sure you’re always getting the best airfare!
How to Book the Cheapest Flights (Based on Recent Travel Trends)
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When to Book
The cheapest day to book your flights is 56 days before departure. If you’re not up for that kind of math, use the Momondo calendar calculator to find out when 56 days before your holiday is. It also lets you set a reminder so that you won’t forget!
While ridiculously specific, travelers last year saved 28% on their flights with this rule. You’ll also find cheaper flights by booking on a Tuesday. Airlines tend to announce deals on Monday evenings, which means by noon the next day, competing airlines are scrambling to match the lower prices so they can stay in the game.
With this in mind, our upcoming trip to Antarctica was booked on December 6 2016 … as luck would have it, this was both a Tuesday and 56 days before we wanted to fly (January 31). Sure enough, we caught a cheaper price than we had seen advertised before. We also managed to purchase Premium Economy tickets for cheaper than seats in economy, which we still don’t understand, but will absolutely take advantage of!
Which Day to Fly
The cheapest days to fly are when other people don’t want to. While it’s recommended to shop on a Tuesday, Tuesday is also the cheapest day to fly (see you at the airport on January 31st!).
Fewer people travel on Tuesdays, and less demand means a better deal for you. And, flying on a Tuesday also means a short week on your return if you have to head straight to work on the Wednesday!
Also consider flying on the actual holiday. The biggest savings typically come with flying on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. Who needs a business class upgrade when you’re set up in a row of 5 vacant economy seats (remember to tuck the seat belts in the gap between the seats before you lie down … it’s quite uncomfortable otherwise!)
What Time to Fly
Using the same rule of thumb as above, the cheapest time to fly is the less popular time of the day.
Most people don’t want to fly out at the crack of dawn, or stay up past their bedtime, so early and late fares are typically cheaper. Likewise, no-one wants to swap an actual meal for plastic food unless they have to, so search for times around the lunch and dinner hour if you want to pay less.
That said, sometimes, you’re not going to have a choice. For instance, our flight to Santiago this Tuesday only operates from Sydney once per day. So it’s 1pm or nothing.
Create a Fare Alert on Momondo
Another money-saving tip is to create a Fare Alert on momondo (search for your flight and then create the alert) – you’ll receive notifications up to twice a week when there is a notable change in price, and a weekly summary of every price change so you can get an idea of where your fare is heading.
It only takes a second to set up, and the deals come to you. When you see one you like, act fast; other people have set alerts set too and cheap seats are always limited.
Travel to a Different Airport
Most cities only have one or two airports. A handful have three or four, however some have up to 6 (flights to London can be confusing!!).
And in 2017 many cities have plans to add more; Sydney is proposing a new airport, Istanbul is building a third, there are 9 new airports going up in China’s Xinjiang, and 17 in smaller cities of India. These are just the ones I’ve had time to research!
Some cities probably have more airports than you would think necessary, but this means more choice for the traveler; airfares at airports within 100 miles of each other can vary drastically, so it’s increasingly important to consider flights to and from different cities and towns. The cost of driving to an airport an hour away could end up being far less than the difference in your airline ticket.
Separate Your Tickets
This may take a little bit of extra effort, but it can pay off. If you’re booking for two or more people, do a search for one person to start. Airlines will sell multiple fare classes at different prices, and if there’s only one seat left in the lowest fare class when you search for two seats, most reservation systems will charge both tickets at the higher price.
Example: An airline has only one ticket for $100 and the rest are $200. If you shop for two, you will pay $400 total, but if you shop one-at-a-time, you will pay $300 total.
Also, compare fares for both one way tickets and a round-trip fare. Round-trip flights are typically cheaper to book, but not always. Before you book a round-trip flight, price out options for two one-way bookings and consider two different airlines. It might be cheaper that way, and you’ll never know unless you compare.
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