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Book a flight

Booking a flight is easy these days, but it can become a hard task if you cannot find what you are looking for or if you have too many choices. Whether you want the cheapest ticket to your destination (Economy) or want to fly more comfortably (Business or First), the following tips may help you in the process:

  • 18 tips for finding the cheapest ticket in Economy Class
  • 13 tips for finding the cheapest ticket in Business or First Class

18 TIPS FOR FINDING THE CHEAPEST ECONOMY TICKET

Economy

  • Search for the cheapest fare on the internet, and not through a travel agency as the latter will always need to be paid with a commission.
  • Use the airfare search engine Kayak, my personal favourite. The latter checks the price of your requested flight at tons of sites at once, including Orbitz and Cheaptickets, and allows flexibility in your travel dates. However, Kayak does not display all prices, so do not forget to check other airfare search engines and online ticket-sellers as well: Hipmunk, Momondo, Hotwire, Skyscanner, Expedia, and Travelocity.
  • Matrix is the ITA software that powers Kayak, Orbitz, Cheaptickets and lots of airlines and travel agent’s tools. But you can skip all their ads and come-ons and search Matrix itself for the no-nonsense scoop of flying cheap.
  • Search for cheap fares on the airline’s official website. This is an often-overlooked tip, but well worth doing as airlines can host private sales that are only accessible through their website.
  • Subscribe to the newsletters of your preferred airlines, so that you will be informed amongst the first about their promotional offers (with sometimes discounts of 25%).
  • Travel outside the school holidays.
  • Fly out early: the first flight of the morning is usually the cheapest.
  • Including a Saturday night in your trip may substantially lower the price.
  • Be flexible: adding a couple of days to your trip before or after peak travel days may lower the fare.
  • Leave on a Tuesday or Wednesday as this is often much cheaper than leaving in the weekend.
  • Book your ticket on a Tuesday afternoon. A study by Farecompare found this was the best time to buy airline tickets as airliners most frequently release discounted tickets on Tuesdays.
  • Book your ticket in advance, about 6 weeks for intracontinental and 3 months for intercontinental travel. You will likely pay a big premium for booking too late (within 14 days of your departure day), or for booking too early (more than 5 months in advance, except when you can make use of promotional offers).
  • Travel last-minute if you are very flexible in your travel plans. Airlines, especially charters, are known to cut prices when they can’t fill their planes for upcoming flights.
  • Fly different airlines. Most airlines now sell one-way flights at reasonable prices, meaning one airline might be cheaper for the outbound flight while the other works better for the return. You could even fly to one airport and depart from another.
  • Consider booking an indirect flight to your destination. Direct or non-stop flights to your destination may be expensive, as some people will pay a premium for the convenience and there is little competition. Transferring is a time-consuming hassle, but it can save you a bundle, as there are many options and airlines are competing to undercut each other.
  • Check alternate airports. If there is more than one airport near your origin or destination city, check them all (e.g. San Francisco and Oakland; Miami and Fort Lauderdale; New York and Newark; Washington DC and Baltimore).  Sometimes, alternate airports can be located a bit further away from your destination, but still be well-connected by public transport (e.g. Brussels versus Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Paris).
  • Flying low-cost carriers can save lots of money but be very careful, as they may charge lots of hidden extras (making them not so low-cost after all), and they often fly to alternate, less convenient airports
  • Fly for free by joining the loyalty program of an airline.

13 TIPS FOR FINDING THE CHEAPEST BUSINESS & FIRST CLASS TICKET

Business

  • Book as early as possible. Time is the key to get the best Business & First Class deals as the prices are very high when you need to make a last minute booking.
  • Fly during the school holidays as business tends to slow down during this period and airlines cannot fill their Business/First Class seats, hence selling them at discounted prices.
  • Be flexible: adding a couple of days before or after your planned travel dates may lower the fare.
  • Add a Saturday night stay to reduce the fare further.
  • Avoid peak business travel days like Monday (morning) and Friday (evening) since these are the most popular times for business people to fly, hereby increasing demand and limiting seat availability.
  • Book your ticket on a Tuesday afternoon. A study by Farecompare found this was the best time to buy airline tickets as airliners most frequently release discounted tickets on Tuesdays.
  • Use the airfare search engine Kayak, my personal favourite. The latter checks the price of your requested flight at tons of sites at once, including Orbitz and Cheaptickets, and allows flexibility in your travel dates. However, Kayak does not display all prices, so do not forget to check other airfare search engines and online ticket-sellers as well: HipmunkMomondoHotwireSkyscannerExpedia, and Travelocity.
  • Matrix is the ITA software that powers Kayak, Orbitz, Cheaptickets and lots of airlines and travel agent’s tools. But you can skip all their ads and come-ons and search Matrix itself for the no-nonsense scoop of flying cheap.
  • Search for cheap fares on the airline’s official website. This is an often-overlooked tip, but well worth doing as airlines can host private Business/First Class sales that are only accessible through their website.
  • Make use of the websites FlyfirstSkylux Travel and Etravelbid which all focus on Business/First Class deals. Etravelbid works particularly well for last-minute travellers, since it negotiates discounted Business Class fares (even up to the day before departure) with no advance-purchase or Saturday night-stay requirements.
  • Make use of corporate code travel discounts that your company may have negotiated directly with the airline.
  • Sign up for a premium credit card. Some premium credit cards (e.g. American Express) offer two-for-one specials on airline tickets in Business or First Class.
  • Fly for free or get a complimentary upgrade from Economy to Business or First Class by joining the loyalty program of an airline.

First



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