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Have you ever wondered how people manage to book cheap flight tickets and manage to travel around the world on a budget, while you are still struggling to pay for groceries?
It’s not just a question of how much money you earn, but rather how well you plan your expenses and keep aside funds for travel or any other leisure activities you may like. Regardless of how small or large your travel savings fund is, no one likes to have to spend more on basic things such as hotels or flight tickets than they absolutely need to.
Here’s where you can find out more about my travel secrets on how to travel cheap and far, with a critical step being how to find, search, compare and book cheap flight tickets.
One can sit all day and analyse extensively exactly when is the best time to book a flight ticket. Many amazing articles have been written on this, but the truth of the matter is that unless you are yourself the Pricing Analyst of some global airlines company, you cannot as a layman know what are all the variables that will lead to your optimum ‘time before you book a flight ticket’.
Some have said that 7 weeks before you expect to fly is the best time to book cheap flight tickets. You can use it as a broad reference, but in my opinion, a time frame of around 2 months before your expected flights is a good time to start looking and booking.
**FLIGHT BOOKINGS FROM ANYWHERE**
Whilst traveling globally and looking to book cheap flight tickets, the best platforms I have come across are Skyscanner and KIWI. Just to be fair and accurate, I took a small case of flights two months from the date of this post for a one week return trip between Frankfurt and Colombo. You”ll see the price differences below.
Skyscanner was the cheaper of the two platforms by a whopping $85 (75 Euros). However, it’s important to remember that once you click on the link, you actually end up booking on an entirely different OTA (online travel agent) that may or may not charge additional fees depending on the airline, agency or the payment method. I have ended up paying anywhere between $25-50 more when booking on the final platform.
The one thing I absolutely love about Skyscanner is, the ability to search “Everywhere” and under month select “Cheapest Month” to see what are my best options to go anywhere in the world, and find the deal that suits me best. Here’s how you can do it too:
Step 1: Enter the airport you fly out of.
Step 2: Instead of selecting a place, choose the option of “Everywhere”.
Step 3: In the destination, choose “Whole Month” instead of “Specific Date”.
Step 4: Under “Whole Month”, choose “Cheapest Month” and VOILA!
A relative newcomer in the flight search engines ecosystem, KIWI nevertheless comes with a ton of advantages. What I really loved about this platform is the KIWI guarantee which basically provides an alternate flight or refunds the price if your flight is delayed, re-scheduled or missed for no extra cost. If you get stuck in the airport, the KIWI Guarantee will also cover your extra accommodation or food costs. For solo or first time travellers, this is a really great deal to have.
RECAP: For both these platforms, if you are relatively flexible about your booking dates, months and days, do consider checking out the “Anywhere (KIWI) or Everywhere (Skyscanner)” feature, which basically checks prices from the airport you are flying out from to pretty much everywhere in the world. Instead to the destination airport, just select Anywhere/Everywhere and wait for magic to happen.
Other flight booking platform worth checking out:
Airfare Watchdog – For a US based audience, this platform has amazing deals and offers! It also offers kickass price alerts which you should definitely consider subscribing to for long haul flights!
Cheap Flights– Another aggregator with amazing deals from time to time, it’s worth checking out as it compares well to Skyscanner prices.
**FLIGHT BOOKINGS FROM ASIA**
As a fellow South Asian, and Asia travel enthusiast, I wanted to highlight special favourites for this region. I did the same exercise for my two favourite platforms in the New Delhi- Bali route.
Cleartrip came out to be a tad more expensive at $20 more. However, in my opinion both booking engines offer excellent individual sales and discounts that should be looked into before booking flight tickets. A cashback, flat discount or credit card offer can make a much larger difference than just a preliminary one.
2. MAKE MY TRIP
MMT, being the oldest online travel platform in India and one of the strongest players in Asia, definitely gives for excellent industry networks and sales. With India’s flight sector on a continuous upward trend, I’d say both these platforms will offer great prices and you needn’t worry if you go with one or another.
Flight booking platforms aside, I’ve taken enough flights in the last few years to have a few favourites. Sometimes booking directly at the airline website is way cheaper than booking through a travel platform (since the booking platform charges a commission to the airline which increases the overall price when you book the flight ticket on a different platform). This is especially true in case of long sector flights that are not entirely booked or new routes that are being added by specific airlines. With this in mind, here’s a list of my favourite international airlines that you should also check if you are looking for a way to book cheap flight tickets:
Strategies to Book Cheap Flight Tickets
- Make sure to search, find and book your flight 7-8 weeks before your expected flight date for the best prices. Look on weekdays and fly out on weekdays. Sunday is supposed to be the most expensive day to fly out.
- Use the ‘Everywhere/Anywhere’ button to look for best flight deals in your expected month/time of travel.
- Compare the best search engines, such as Skyscanner or KIWI for global flights, and ClearTrip or MakeMyTrip for booking flights from Asia.
- Check individual airline prices on the airline website to compare one last time if you have the best deal.
- Use your debit card or credit card to full advantage, not only to look for specific discount deals but also to collect frequent flyer miles by flying on partner flights.
- Book on an incognito mode on your browser. Search engines can track your cookies’ data and the price would increase, each time you return to book from the same tracking address.
- Sign up for special deals/newsletters and price alerts. Heck, flight prices sometimes even change thrice a day. Contrary to popular belief, signing up for these may be beneficial especially if you are not looking to book your flight right away. The best alert engine I found is undoubtedly Airfare Watchdog. Subscribe here for price alerts.
- Check for flash (hotels or flights or hotel+flights) deals on last minute booking websites such as Lastminute.com.
I hope this small guide will help you book cheap flight tickets to your next bucket list vacation. Travel cheap, travel far!
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