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Finding cheap flights can be difficult and stressful if you don’t know what you are doing. A lot of new travellers don’t even know where to start or how to go about finding the best deals. So we have put together an easy step by step guide to show you how you can find and book the cheapest flights possible.
Step 1- Get an average price of your flight
The first step is to find out an average price of your travel route. To do this we need to cast a wide net. We suggest using several different websites, such as skyscanner, webjet and flight centre, just to name a few. Each of these websites pulls up information and prices from hundreds of different airlines. However, do keep in mind that these websites will not always display results from small budget airlines, so don’t forget about them during your search.
When starting your search, enter the departure and arrival destinations, as well as your desired dates. The results will show you many different airline options and prices. From here figure out the average cost you can expect to pay and take note of it.
Also keep in mind there are many different variables that will influence the price, such as departure times, layover times and specific travel dates. Don’t stress, we will get to those.
Step 2- Be flexible with dates and times
We know being flexible with dates and times is not always an option, but if you can, you should do it. This can drastically reduce your cost.
So for step two, search your travel route again, but this time tick the box that says flexible with dates. You will then be given a monthly or weekly view of the cheapest flights on each date on your results page. Expect Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to be the cheapest, as most people prefer to travel over weekend periods due to work commitments. Airlines often struggle to fill their mid weeks flights, which is why cheaper fares are usually offered on those days.
Another thing to consider with dates is travelling in the shoulder season or off season. Usually there is less demand to travel during these periods, so booking flights during these times can be cheaper. Research your destination and look at when these quieter times occur and apply it to your search. We also suggest signing up to many budget airlines mailing lists, as they will often email you when your selected route is on sale.
If you are unable to be flexible with dates, then focus more on the times of your flights. Sometimes flights leaving or arriving later at night will be cheaper as they are less popular and once again airlines struggle to fill them.
Step 3- Consider surrounding airports
Depending on where you live or where you are travelling to, it may be cheaper to fly into a nearby airport. Major cities such as London and Paris have multiple airports, with the ones further out being a little cheaper to fly to and from. Budget airlines will often be associated with the smaller and further out airports, so definitely keep this in mind when searching for the best deals.
When searching these flight routes, simply enter the destination or departure city and pick the “all airports” option. You can then filter your results to show the cheapest option first.
Step 4- Look at flight durations and stopovers
By now you should have a rough idea of cost in mind, maybe a couple of potential travel dates and your desired airports. So for step 4 we are going to focus on the time lengths of the flights and their number of stopovers.
As a general rule, flights with longer layover times and more stop overs will be cheaper. This is simply because they are less desirable, and most customers are after the shortest most direct flights. Once again if you are are on a tight schedule then this step may not apply to you. However, if you have the time and really do want to save a buck, then don’t be afraid of those longer flights. These days airports have sleep pods, movie cinemas, swimming pools and free city tours, so there are always options to pass the time on those long layovers.
Step 5- Book at the right time
Booking your flight at the right time is probably the most vital step when searching for the best deal. Depending on how organised you are, there are a couple of different options of when to book. However, keep in mind that prices will often ebb and flow, so monitor the price regularly if you can.
Airlines release their flights and prices 330 days (11 months) prior to the date of travel. So if you are super organised for that big trip, then this is most definitely the best time to book. Prices are often cheapest at this point and will slowly rise from here as the plane begins to fill up.
But of course, this is not always possible. If you have missed this window, then your next best chance will be at the 6 week mark prior to the departure date. At this point in time, airlines will start to panic if they have not filled their flights. In order to fill them they usually offer really cheap discounted fares. So if you are happy to wait it out and wing it somewhat, this is the next best time to book.
No matter what way you like to travel, super organised vs laid back, you should be able to find a decent time frame to book your flight.
Step 6- Book directly through the airline
Ok so it’s now time to book and pay for your flight. By now you should have figured out all the nitty gritty details we have discussed in steps 1 to 5. So it’s at this point that we say goodbye to our flight comparison websites, and say hello to the desired airline you want to book with. It is good at this point to have about 3-5 possible airlines that you may book with.
Go on the airline’s website that you have chosen and enter the details we have figured out during our first 5 steps. Ensure you have all of the details correct and the price matches up with what you have found previously. If this is the case then go ahead and book it! The key thing to remember is that the less “extras” options you choose, such as extra luggage, seat selection, meals and entertainment, then the cheaper your ticket will be.
Another important thing to keep in mind when booking is the amount of frequent flyer miles you might have. We won’t go into a lot of detail here about this (it’s coming in another post), but frequent flyer miles can often make you flights cheaper, so don’t forget to check your balance before booking.
If you are new to the concept of frequent flyer miles, then keep an eye out for future articles regarding this topic, and we will go over them more then.
By following this step by step guide, you are sure to find the best flight deal to suit your travel plans. Temember the key is to do your research, be flexible and book at the right time. If you implement these steps you can save yourself hundreds of dollars which can be spent on more fun things when travelling.
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