No one wants to think that they paid too much for flights.
We are regularly asked for tips on getting the best value air fares – and here are some of points we consider when researching. As any regular travellers will attest, there are no iron-clad guarantees, but these suggestions might help.
Plan well ahead
For international air fares we try to search about 170 days before our flying date. As an initial part of online research, we set up ‘fare drop’ alerts with air fare websites.
If the fare falls, the sites usually send an email advising of the change.
When looking online use the best web sites
Our favourites include; CleverLayover; The FlightDeal; Skiplagged; Skyscanner; ITAMatrix; Which Budget; AirfareWatchdog; and Trip Advisor; all of which have their pros and cons.
We have often spoken about CleverLayover, which finds savings by linking together two separate return flights.
It’s also smart to keep your online searches secret by wiping your computer’s cookies and history – or using private browsing mode – before returning to a site. Don’t risk a price suddenly rising if a route is repeatedly searched.
Be as flexible as possible with travel dates
If possible, arrive at your destination in low season, rather than peak summer or late Spring.
Skyscanner, for example, also has a service that allows you to find the best prices for travel over a month. Check it out.
Try to fly during the middle of the week and on flights that leave early morning or late at night. The value of this is debatable, but sometimes it seem to work.
Find the cheapest place to fly
Especially in Europe, compare the price of flying into various airports – and there is a web tool called Kayak Explore, that will help with this.
If you are bound for London, for example, it might be cheaper to fly to Amsterdam or Paris and then catch a budget domestic flight, train or ferry.
As another example, Rome is also considered by many to be a particularly well priced European destination, from where you can then pick up a flight elsewhere.
Many of the long-haul routes are now serviced by both traditional and so-called Budget airlines.
This has expanded the options for travellers.
However, when considering budget carriers, it is crucial to read the fine print about baggage fees etc and ensure you are comfortable about leg room, on-board entertainment and food etc.
Don’t forget layovers
If you are flying from the West Coast of the US to Australia for example, consider booking a budget flight from the US mainland to Hawaii and another budget flight from Hawaii to Australia – with a layover of a few days in between.
If you are not on a tight schedule, why not consider using layovers to see more destinations than you normally would.