How To Get The Best Flight Deals
By Charlotte Griffiths
How to: Get the best flight deals
When planning and preparing for your trip, whether it’s a weekend break or the big gap year that you have had your sights set on throughout school, university or your working career, arguably the most exciting part is getting those flights booked up so that there is no going back! Setting that departure date in stone and adding it to your calendar, downloading a ‘countdown’ app, or sticking the post-it to your laptop... The only thing more exciting than having your flights booked is, well, the trip itself.
And we all want to find the cheapest way of getting there, right?
A simple Google search for flights bombards your screen with options; big, scary, expensive looking options. You can’t fly on the specified dates in the airline’s ‘big sale’, and you don’t want to risk buying last minute in case the deals aren’t there and you have to pay a fortune. So how do we go about finding the best possible flight deals that will leave us excited for our trip without having to cry in to our empty wallets? (Hypothetically speaking that is. I’m not sure many girls carry the cash to pay for their flights in their wallets....I mean, we would just spend it on shoes and chocolate right??) (HQ: Or Coffee!)
Where do you start I hear you ask?
Well, firstly you need to work out when you want to go away, then secondly budget how much you want to pay for a flight. Many airlines allow bookings up to 12 months in advance, and the earlier you get looking, the cheaper your flight is likely to cost. Once you have these two initial stages ticked, and if you’re prepared to put in a bit of time to research and ‘window shop’, then you are more likely to find those flight deals that we are all looking for. Many wide eyed and bushy tailed Nomads-To-Be will go straight to the big airline websites, but there a few steps that you can take that might bring your price down.
As with many things in life, having flexibility with your plans is more likely to be economically rewarding for you. A few questions to ask yourself before searching and booking flights are the following:
- Do I need to get to my destination as quickly as possible and fly direct, or can I have one or two stopovers along the way?
- Do I need to fly at popular times of the day, or can I get to the airport very early in the morning or late at night?
- Do I need to arrive at the weekend, or can I fly mid-week?
- Can I avoid public holidays and school breaks when others are more likely to fly also?
- Am I a member or a frequent flier programme that can earn me rewards to save on future flights? (HQ: So worth the application form ladies!)
These are all basic thoughts to keep in mind that will affect how much you spend on your flights, with mid-week, multi-stop, out-of-season flights being the cheapest.
I have found that through flight comparison websites such as Skyscanner and Kayak, you will have a whole host of airlines’ flight options listed to you in lowest price first format. This is a great way of seeing the different airline and time options available for you find your preference. There is the option to sign up to ‘Fare Alert’ emails on the above-mentioned sites and they will email you every few days with the current lowest price for your chosen journey. This is always worth signing up to because they often fluctuate on certain days of the week or times of the month, and you may grab yourself a good deal if you are able to be patient for a few weeks to find out.
If you’re a Student or Under 26, contacting STA Travel sometimes leads to lower priced deals. They suggest that they can find the cheapest flights for people of those brackets and it comes with the ease and peace of mind that someone else does all the hard work for you in finding them. STA have special relationships with some (but not all) commercial airlines and therefore have specified seats that they can sell to you at a lower price than otherwise advertised. Going to them with a bit of flexibility around your ideal flight dates will give you a greater chance in them coming back to you with a good deal. It is worth noting and questioning however, are you really getting the lowest possible price or are they still charging you a higher fee because it is their job to sell it to you?
Another money-saving tip to look into is using a ‘Cash-back’ website that pay you a cash reward when you click through them to buy goods or services from specified companies. You tend to receive the cash back around 12 weeks after you take your flight, so it isn’t immediate but it helps save the pennies when you find a 5-15% cash back deal on whatever you spend that you wouldn’t otherwise get.
I will always use a combination of all of the above research methods when booking my flights, often playing them off of one another. For example, I will run Skyscanner and Kayak ‘Explore’ comparison searches so that I am fully aware of the cheapest options available to all customers across the internet. I will then check to see if I can book the flights via a cash-back website, and after I have worked out how much cash-back I will later receive, I will take this information to STA if I have been able to counter their low price offer and in turn they will try and beat it.
Now, we may be talking about tit-for-tat here and the matter of a just a few pounds, Euros, or dollars difference. But flights are often the largest expense that we incur in our travels and sometimes we are so desperate to just get it booked that we can overlook a few easy tips to help us save some money. And let’s face it; the less you spend on your flights, the more you can spend doing awesome activities in your chosen destination! Remember, preparation and flexibility is key to finding the best deals; so plan ahead and keep your eyes peeled!
Saying that, don’t be fooled into believing the cheapest deal may be the best for you. It’s good to be able to compromise on all of the factors mentioned above, and consequently cash in on the savings, but sometimes the extra cost will really enhance the beginning of your journey. A £30 difference to shorten your flight time by 12 hours with a more direct route? That may be a day or two’s budget for your intended destination, but it could see you arrive ready to begin your trip in high spirits rather than completely jetlagged, which we’d all like, right?
Safe travels, globelle gals!
UK | 23 | Currently Exploring Christchurch, New Zealand | https://instagram.com/charlottelgriffiths