When you plan your holidays, what is the first thing you look for? My search begins with booking cheapest flights. I don’t plan my holidays based on bucket lists but in my pocket. I prefer taking many cheap trips than doing one super expensive trip. Since flights (especially international) costs the bulk of my travel expenses, I spend a lot of time searching for travel hacks and hidden cheap deals. Once the flight is taken care of, I can decide on what kind of experiences I can and want to splurge on. Here are some of my favourite all time travel hacks I use for booking cheapest flights.
1. Use search engines but visit airlines websites too
While I use search Engines Cleartrip to fish for the cheapest deals, I always make it a point to check the individual websites of the flights as well. Few times, I have got better deals (in terms of cost and time) booking directly. But most of the times Search Engines do a good job. The trick is to not follow any pattern but to do your research well.
2. Keep an eye on Airlines sales
I am a huge fan of Airline Sales. Sometimes I have flown almost for free paying just the taxes. Sign up for the airline newsletter to stay updated about the sales and avert saying, “Oh wish I had known about this earlier”. I was completely bummed to miss the goindigo Anniversary Sale, where fares Started as low as ₹1,111* (17USD).
Usually, airlines have airfare sales at certain times of the year like directly after New Year's Day or after summer holidays. During these periods, most people aren't yet thinking about vacations, and airlines are keen to drum up business. Anniversary Sale is another marketing tactic that every airline uses to lure customers.
3. Be flexible with your travel dates, time and season
Unless I am flying for business or have a strict timeline to adhere, I try to be flexible with my travels. Sure, I want to take advantage of the long weekends but sometimes taking a few extra days off at work happens to be a better deal than going on long weekends like everyone does.
I try and avoid the peak season and business travel days – Monday morning and Friday evening. I don’t mind taking flights scheduled for lighter periods, such as early morning, red-eye flights or flights departing on a Saturday afternoon or evening. Also, I am not too particular about destinations unless I have something special to attend.
4. Sign up for Airlines Rewards Program
I am a huge fan of Airline Rewards Program and Global Alliances. The Frequent Flier miles I accrue on flying Star Alliance member flight, I use those to flying in another sector with another alliance member. Like I recently flew to the US, Ireland, UK and the Philippines. In all these countries, I flew on Star Alliance members’ airlines. Even though I might not have got the cheapest fares in those sectors but I earned a lot of miles, which I can redeem on my next travels.
5. Book early, but not too early
Don't book at the last moment but don’t book far, far in advance either. It is true Airline fares keep rising, but there is a sweet spot when the airlines begin to either lower or increase fares based on demand. The best booking window is 6–8 weeks before your flight, or around three months before if you are going to your destination during peak season.
So, these are my top 5 hacks to booking cheapest flights to anywhere. I would love to know your secrets.