Do not book that flight until you have read this, you may save hundreds of dollars. Seriously. You’ve been warned.
Booking a flight is a pretty straightforward task these days – we know this. You can head to the nearest travel agent, call your preferred airline or, like most of us, hop online and book the first thing that comes up.
What people don’t realise is that you’re probably spending way more on flights that you have to-and you can thank fee happy airlines and websites for that.
It seems there are extra charges no matter how you book, right? And the longer you stare wishfully at that that flight to Fiji, the more those digits climb up and up.
You are not imagining either of these phenomenon’s. Because, in the new, hyper connected, cookie-ridden world (think computer not biscuit), the travel industry has become a bloodthirsty place that want to empty your wallet.
Here are some tips on how to not let yourself get stung with the amateur tax, so you can spend your money on the *things that really matter (*read: Jetsis.)
Figure out the cheapest day to fly
Are your travel dates flexible, even by a couple of days? If so, you could save insane amounts of money by checking what the cheapest day to fly is. Sometimes, there could even be around a $500 difference. The best way to do this is hop on Skyscanner. After you put your dates in, it will take you to a daily comparison page and give you the option to change your dates.
Going domestic? Book on Tuesdays
A few studies globally say Tuesdays, at about 3pm, is the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for domestic travel.
Keep an eye on social media
Flight centre sales should not be your go to place for deal snatching. Keep an eye on airline’s social media pages – where they often have flash sales to fill flights.
Early bird gets the worm
The cheapest flight is often the first one out, so, at least for flying days, it pays to be an early riser. Also, early morning is when you should be booking.
Sign up for alerts from airfarewatchdog.com
With this site, you’ll get pinged when prices fall and receive some excellent deals. The site uses real people to vet the deals rather than computers, so you’re bound to turn up some offerings you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
A revealing study from Airlines Reporting Corporation found that the best time to purchase your airfare is about six weeks prior to travel as prices drop to the below average as airlines try to fill seats.
Go direct to budget airlines
Some websites are likely to push budget options down the list, to ensure they can sting you on bigger fares and a bigger cut. So before booking, go to Jet Star, Tiger etc directly to get a feel for their prices.
Be careful of your cookies
Seeing prices for flights that you regularly search going up is not a figment of your imagination. Many (evil) websites track your cookies, and increase the price of flights if you’ve viewed them multiple times. Always search with an incognito browser (easier than it sounds) and if you do see prices increase, compare them against other websites.
Choosing your search engines
Although everywhere is good for research, the same cannot be said for actually booking. Most of them will tack on a last minute you’ve-come-this-far-I-bet-you’re-not-turning-back- fee upwards of 15% (looking at you, Webjet) and may even be unclear about the small print i.e. luggage allowance, meal service etc. Even though Skyscanner is a great site, some of their partners are in the middle of Europe and making changes to your booking could be a nightmare. There is a clear alternative though…
NOW go to a travel agent
Now, and only now, is when you head down to the travel agent of choice. You are armed with the proper knowledge and will be fully aware of price jacks and agents working on commission that simply inflate the final amount. Don’t be naïve; this is 100% a reality. Have your chosen flights picked and written down and simply see if the agent can beat the price. Book it through them so you’re not privy to all ridiculous online fees, and pay with a debit card. Or, get all your money out in fives and make it rain as you celebrate your upcoming trip. You’ve earned it.