Cheap Flights? Yes Please! When, Where And How To Buy Flights
Like may young travellers, I am constricted to a tight budget. A budget that if I dare go over, even by a cent my whole trip may be jeopardized!! Why you ask? Well because like normal budgets we make in our every day lives, we generally aim to spend under a certain amount, but like most budgets we end up spending between 5-10% over the original the budgeted cost! There are always extras we forget to cover, along with other costs that pop in along the way. This is why I find it extremely important to set up your budget then add an extra 5-10% of the total price in an “emergency” fund to basically spend when those extra costs pop up. Say for example if you are booking flights and you have a budget of $500 but then decide at the last minute to cancel/move the flight you may have to pay an extra $30-$50 to do so, but because you have that extra %10 in your emergency fund you will not go over budget and will be able to afford the extra cost!
Now your probably wondering what a budget has to do with a booking flights post? Well… earlier this week I attempted to book my flights for the next 12 months. Now I know this trip itinerary of mine may be different to yours, because I will be catching over 25 flights within a 12-month period all over the world. Some may argue and ask why not book as you go? Well, because I like to know what is planned and how much cost will be involved. I also have a lot of travel plans with pre-book accommodation/tours so I find it important to make it to those locations on selected dates, and if I were to book flights at the last minute not only could they be twice as expensive, but they could also be fully booked (I’m also a total organize freak!!!)
When I got into contact with my travel agents, I was egar and excited to get my quotes back from them! But little did I know how much they wanted to charge me. After doing so searching online I found the total cost of all my flights $1000 over budget (which is a MASSIVE kick in the guts!!) but… once I started to receive the quote back from the travel agents I started to see a pattern. The flights they had booked me onto where not cheap or budgeted at all!!!! In fact some of the flights where triple the prices I found online for the same flights! It was in this week of total betrayal I felt I decided to book the flights solo.
Now don’t get me wrong travel agents are AMAZING!! In fact mine have been so extremely helpful the past 8 months I owe them more than I could ever give them! They have saved me thousands on accommodation and tours, and without them I wouldn’t have been able to afford this big trip! Because most travel agent’s pre-book/buy airline tickets they are only able to sell them at a certain price to make a sale on. Majority of the airlines they book you onto are owned by your country or partner airlines to your countries airlines, meaning they will be far more expensive than the overseas owned airlines. They book with these local airlines because they are often offered good rates and in some cases will be provided with benefits and commission to sell the airlines flights.
I guess the biggest question running through my head was, where on earth do I start! I had over 25 flights to book and only 2 months before I was due to leave the country. Life was about to get crazy!
After putting myself through one of the most stressful weeks of my life, speaking to over 12 different airlines, researching over 23 websites, and reading 4 form posts, I can now truly say I booked the cheapest flights I could have ever found! In fact I’m so happy that I’m confident you too can benefit from what I discovered. This is why I have created 3 different steps in how, when and where to buy the cheapest airline tickets to save you hundreds:
What the web taught me:
Like most airlines, flights can be unpredictable. In fact they can go up and down in only a matter of hours with pricing differences of hundreds! I guess the biggest question asked, is when do I book? Like many online post I found people often suggesting booking on a Tuesday night, this is because most airlines start promoting sales on a Monday, meaning that by the Tuesday most travel companies, agencies and websites have caught onto the sales and are too promoting the sale prices.
What I found:
This sense of booking on a Tuesday night is somewhat true. In fact I did actually see a major pricing difference by Tuesday night, but discovered far cheap prices on Monday nights! This is because form what I believe, the airlines start their sales from Sunday nights, and by Tuesday morning most travel companies have caught onto the sales, but tend to up the prices by a significant 10% of what the original sale price was from the direct airline. Once one travel company submits its flight price the others tend to stick around that price as well, even though the airline may be $100 cheaper!
What the web taught me:
Acquiring to my very own online research (after spending almost a total of 36 hours researching online websites – I’m surprised I haven’t gone mad!)I read that majority of the internet promotes booking through the direct airline due to the fact they may be running certain promotions, sales and in some cases even offer to match prices!
What I found:
Ermmmm no. Not what I found at all! Well yes to some airlines, but with the amount of phone calls, strange music played whilst on hold for over 30 minutes and being direct to website pages, only to discover the website had nothing to do with my question. I have realized that airlines don’t like their time waited. If you want to book cheap flights, do you research online!!!! It is only very rare that they will match your prices, and the chances of that are very slim, unless you want to spend 30 minutes on hold and have to wait 4 days to receive your confirmation email whilst almost having a heart attack because their system was playing up.
What the web taught me:
That online booking is your best option, and to book through websites such as jetabroad, webjet, gotogate and lastmiunute.com.
What I found:
This is all amazingly true! These websites are perfect! In fact to make your life a whole lot easier I have a amazing discovery for you… Sky Scanner.com THIS WEBSITE IS AMAZING! Like wow. And to make it ever more incredible they have an app which you can download for free which allows you to “watch flights” and get notifications sent to your email along with phone alerts as to when the flight prices increase and decrease. I would encourage you to download the app and take a look today! Basically Sky Scanner is a flight finder that searches thousands of airlines and prices running at the time of your search. The only problem is when you find your amazing flight; you pretty much have to book it then and their in order to secure the price! You can “watch” the flight, but it could go up or down at any time.
Booking flights can be a stressful situation, often we are either overly organized and book 12 months in advanced or not so organized and book 2 weeks before departure.
The truth is it doesn’t really make a massive difference as to when we decide to book our flights. Some say book between 8-6 weeks before departure for the best deals. But what I have personally found is as long as you time it right in terms of school holidays, long weekends, and sale seasons then you are bound to find a good deal somewhere.
My best advice is to research you options! Often flights can be booked on the cheap if you are willing to fly at strange hours, with long stopovers or on certain dates. I find flying internationally is best on a Tuesday/Wednesday and domestically is either a Wednesday/Thursday. This is because I believe not many people will be flying around this time. Most airlines up their prices over weekends/beginning/end of the working week due to business travellers and people typically going away (young families and working couples often travel at the end or beginning of the week due to work and school).
It is also very important to book your flights through a trusted source, make sure your travel insurance covers your flights. If you are travelling abroad and have booked online yourself, make sure you have the airport or airline phone number or email available. It is your responsibility to keep up to date with flight changes not the airlines. I always advise calling the airline 3 days before departure to see if anything has changed and then always following up the day before departure/a few hours before departure. When you don’t have a travel agent it is so extremely important to make sure YOU know what is going on.
I found when booking my flights that Sky scanner was by far the best website I found to book online with, not only do they have a wonderful easy to use website, they also have a great app which notifies you and helps you keep track of the airline prices. They search thousands of airlines including all those travel agents and companies you would have searched for anyway. The only down side is you must be prepared to book on the spot. I suggest watching the prices for a few weeks to get an idea for the pattern of increase/decreases. I found Sunday nights where great to see the cheap prices and Monday night typically after 7pm was the BEST time to book!
Always remember that booking online is wonderful, the prices are cheap and can be easy to compare with other airlines, just make sure you have budgeted an extra 5-10% for those little extra costs they try to catch you with at the end of the booking – most website charge a $25-30 booking fee! Also know travel agents are perfect to book with if you want to fly with certain airlines and will price match online prices if you book on the day with them (they only often beat the price by $1!) so either way however you chose to book your flights, my best advice I could give to you, is to research and take the time to look around!