How to Book the Cheapest Flights or Airfares Online
If you want to go on a leisure or business trip to a destination far from home, you often have to travel by airplane to get there. This costs money and lots of it nowadays since flights are horribly expensive. Fortunately, there are ways in which you will be able to save a nice amount of money on your airfare. This article is about how and where you can do so, based on the experiences of a frequent flyer.
In order to describe the ways in which airfares can be purchased at the cheapest rates possible, I have decided to explain everything in three steps. Afterwards, answers are provided to questions often asked by those who plan on traveling by plane.
1. Try to Plan Your Trip as Early as Possible
Airfares tend to fluctuate heavily. That being said, more time in advance equals more opportunity to benefit from these fluctuations. After all, this provides you with the option to wait a while before you book your flight until the prices have reached a level deemed acceptable by you. Ideally, you should check airfares online on a daily basis if you want your airfare to be as cheap as possible. More about this will follow in the next step.
2. Check Prices of Airline Tickets on Different Websites
I suggest using websites such as cheaptickets.com and cheapseats.com to compare airfares offered by different airlines for the same flight. That way, you will get a good impression of what airline is most likely to offer the cheapest airfare possible. While searching, it's helpful—provided of course that your schedule allows you—to tick the box ‘my dates are flexible’ or its equivalent. By doing so, you will prompt the search engine of the website to look for flights on different days, typically three days before and three days after your desired day of departure. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to tick the box ‘add nearby airports.’ Sometimes, a departure from a different airport than the airport you had in mind can be surprisingly cheaper. Not to mention that (depending on where you live) the travel distance to the other airport may be less as well, thus saving you time (and money!) to travel to the airport.
Found an airfare you find acceptable? Then it’s time for you to take the next step: to go to the official website of the airline you have chosen and enter the exact same travel details. You will notice that in almost every case the airline’s website will offer you the same airfare for even less money.
Things to Watch Out For
- It is possible that prices appear to be far more attractive than they actually are! Numbers displayed in a large font size often show you a very nice price, but it’s the numbers displayed in the smaller font size you want to pay attention to. Those are the prices including taxes and fees, which are typically far less thrilling.
- Some airlines make use of nasty, little tricks to lure potential passengers to book a flight with them. As such, whenever you enter the same flight for one specific day repeatedly, you will notice that the price goes up—thanks to the shady configurations of their website. That way, you will get the impression that you have to book your flight as soon as possible, while in truth you end up paying way too much money. Therefore, I recommend searching for flights on different dates to prevent yourself from entering the exact same flight details too often. Another trick frequently used by airlines is to show you that there are only one or two seats left on the flight you’re considering. The goal of that speaks for itself: to get you to book the ‘last’ seat. Ignore this trickery. In my experience, several days later the ‘last’ seats will still be available to you.
- Many suppliers of airline tickets can be found on the internet, but I would urge you to always keep an eye on their reliability. I don’t think I need to explain that there are lots of internet criminals active who pretend to have a professional web shop for airfare but trick you into handing them your wallet without you even realizing it. Needless to say, the safest way to book a flight is to make use of an airline’s official website.
3. Strike at the Right Moment
Once you found a reasonably priced flight and you’re sure you’re able to book it, it’s essential not to wait any longer. Once again I’d like to highlight the importance of planning in advance as much as you can, since this will increase your chances significantly to encounter the right moment to book. Keep in mind that—as far as I’m concerned—the only way to pay for your flight online is by using a credit card.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are flights more expensive during holidays? Yes, they are! Particularly during summer, it’s almost impossible to find a reasonably priced flight. The same goes for Christmas. So if you have the opportunity to book your flight around the holidays, then don’t hesitate to do so.
- Is booking a flight close to your day of departure more expensive? No. You hear that often, but that’s not necessarily the case. I remember how I booked a flight in 2011 just two days in advance while the price I paid wasn’t extraordinary high.
- Are low-budget airlines (such as Spirit Airlines and RyanAir) really that cheap? Yes, they basically are. However, do keep in mind that flying with low-budget airlines makes you subject to even more fees than usual since practically every convenience which is standard in most conventional airlines is optional. That way, your total can add up quickly so keep an eye on this when comparing possible flights.
- Can I bring all of my baggage on board of the plane for free? Only your first suitcase or bag you check in is free unless it exceeds the maximum weight and/or dimensions. Check the website of the airline you fly with for the limits, since they can differ. You do have the ability to check in multiple suitcases and bags, but you will be charged a lot of money for doing so. Also, one piece of hand luggage per person is allowed. For this type of baggage too, limits to weight and dimensions apply.
- Can I get my money back if I cancel my flight? This depends entirely on the ticket you purchased, but in many cases, it’s not possible. In order to prevent this problem, you may want to consider buying travel insurance.
- I have a question which isn’t listed above, where can I ask? Underneath this article; I will gladly provide you with an answer if I can.
© 2015 Victor Brenntice