How to buy cheap flights

If you check with any 4 random people on a flight regarding how much they paid for their ticket, you will get 4 different answers! Now, who doesn’t want to get flights for cheap? Well, I do! And I am sure most you look forward to Cheap Flights!

If flights are involved in our travels, then they are often the most expensive portion of our tour budget. That said, if we do work on a few smart hacks, we can get them for a deal.

Let’s come to the point – How do I get my flight for a considerably less fare?

1) Destination Flexibility

Okay, so if you are visiting a particular relative or if you are on an official tour, this may not exactly help you but if you are planning on a holiday or if you have enough transit time then you might want to not stick to one destination.

Type 1 – Let me give you an example – We wanted to go to Phuket from Bangalore. I saw that if I use those two cities as my ‘to and from’ destination then my flight fares went considerably up. Instead, if I flew Bangalore to Bangkok (which was way cheap) and then to Phuket, my total fares reduced about 35-40%.

Although, this may not always work in our favor at all times, but it often does. We just need to open Google maps and check for airports closer to our destination city airport!

Type 2 – Destination Flexibility also means not keeping a choice of the destination. At times, when we think of a vacation, it would be nice to be open to the destination. Flight operators show you the sale fare of flights from your city. If you keep an eye on that, you might as well get a great deal for something that was always in your bucket list. These discounted rates are time and season bound. They may not be available if you want to fly after a few months to the same place!

Book Cheap Flights with Destination Flexibility
Book Cheap Flights with Destination Flexibility

As a traveler, being destination-flexible always helps!

2) Date Flexibility

Trust me when I say, even a day before or a day later will show you major deviations in your flight fare. I am always open to flying any day of the week. If you lose an initial weekend, you can always make it up it at the end!

Type 1 – Flying on Monday or midweek often gives you great deals to holiday destinations. If you want to fly on a Friday only because you get that weekend in your travel period, then you are losing a big deal. Instead be smart and travel on a Monday or a Wednesday and get the following weekend added to your holiday for a great flight deal

Type 2 – Don’t ever fly during the start of a long weekend. E.g.: Good Friday/Easter weekend is a long weekend in many countries regardless of whether or not they are observed. If you want to make use of these holidays, then try booking your flight at least 2 days before the holiday starts and return a day after or a day before it ends. That way it is a win-win situation with a lot lesser crowd to deal with too.

Type 3 – Traveling on days like Christmas or Diwali (not before the holidays but on the festival day itself) will fetch you the best deal.

 Tip – Flights to and from busy Business airports destination (like Frankfurt, Berlin, JFK etc) will have lower rates on holiday takeoffs!

3) Checking fares on Multiple Engines – including the websites of the respective Airlines

Once I finalize the destination and the dates (using the above steps), I do the following –

  • I open multiple tabs in Chrome and start checking on flight search engines like Skyscanner, Kayak etc. I also simultaneously check on agent sites like MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip, Expedia etc.
  • Once I have a fair idea about which airline is showing a great deal, I login to the flight-company website and check the price for the shortlisted flight that I was observing.

Often times, I get them for lower prices with the parent company of the flight! This is true with almost everyone and I have been recently lucky with companies like Emirates and Etihad who sold Supersaver refundable tickets. They also sell non-refundable tickets which are a lot cheaper and will help people who are sure of their travel regardless of circumstances.

Example 1 – Recently, my advance ticket from Bangalore to Rome on Etihad’s website was availed at Rs.35500 (Approx 500 USD) whereas the same on agent sites was sold for Rs.10000 (About 150 USD) more.

Similarly, in an earlier instance, when my husband and I along with my parents were to travel to Cape Town from Bangalore, we chose to book directly on Emirates! Emirates had a 10% flat discount sale and we got the tickets a lot cheaper than the agent sites.

On the flip side, when we were booking domestic flights from Bangalore to Kochi, we got a great deal on the agent site as compared to the Parent site.

Simply compare prices till you get the best deal!

4) Look out for Credit Card and Agent Discounts

Agent sites often showcase credit card discounts at almost all times. Several credit card companies have tie-ups with holiday providers as a form of marketing for their cards. We can take this to our advantage while making our purchase. At times, these are not instant discounts but are cashbacks that get credited after a month or 50 days. If these discounted numbers are substantial, it is worth considering those credit cards to make our booking.

Tip – Ensure, you follow point No.3 alongside to get the best deal.

5) Delete cookies from your Browser

Yes, it has happened to all of us! There is always a sudden rise in the fare when we check the same route multiple times in a particular engine. This happens with certain websites. These sites (based on the cookie information) have a bot that increases the fare of the route that is constantly being re-checked by us! This frightens a few giving them an impression that further delays can hike up the price – pushing them into booking their ticket immediately!

TIP- You can avoid this situation by deleting cookies in your bowser after constant ticket searches.

6) Book as early as you can, with caution!

You need to trust me on this one! Airlines often have different category of prices that they release in batches. If you know your dates in advance or even if you know your tentative month, then you can go ahead and make your booking for that great deal which you may not get if you delay a couple of weeks. E.g.: for my travel to Italy last September, I booked the flights 5 months in advance and I really did get a great deal.

As long as you are ensuring to book refundable tickets, this will definitely work in your favor!

Tip – Be absolutely sure when purchasing non-refundable journeys!

7) Try flying the same company to earn some loyalty points/miles

Let’s be honest- this will work only if you travel frequently. Most miles have an expiration date beyond which you won’t be able to use them.

Don't Miss a Flight Deal!
Don’t Miss a Flight Deal!

Let’s say you are indeed someone who travels often on business. Most companies let their employees choose the flight (or you can request for sure) they want to fly. It will make sense to fly the same carrier as much as possible. This way you can have a loyalty account with them (almost every carrier has a loyalty system) and collect miles/points for every travel in their airline. When you do accumulate these miles from official travel, you can redeem them for your personal travel/holiday. Depending on the points, you can either travel free on economy, reduce your price on economy or upgrading yourself to business – all ways you are still getting a deal!

8) Carry Cabin Bag ONLY, when possible!

This won’t be possible with families travelling with children. However, couples and solo travelers can often benefit from this. Most often, air flight carriers showcase special fares for cabin-bag only passengers and these are sometimes 30-40% lesser than the full rate. Not only will you be lugging a lot less and getting a deal, you will also not have to worry about missing/lost baggage anymore.

Be a minimalist and travel light to make the best use of this fare!

Now You Know!

My husband and I love travelling and we opt air travel several times a year even for short distances. It is perceived as a lousy expense by many friends and family. Well, now you know that is not true! We don’t really spend more! We just end up buying a plane ticket for a price that is close to a train fare – saving money and time!

All you need to do is try adjusting your purchase with the above pointers. Try it do let me know your views too.

Tip – Always make sure to have a travel insurance!

Travel Insurance – Why do you need?

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17 Comments

  1. Flexibility seems to be the key aspect! Very helpful post!

  2. Great website Arti! certainly something i will keep coming back for more!

  3. Great read! I will be using these tips the next time we fly!

  4. This is a super handy post. Well written and really helpful. Thanks!

  5. Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Super helpful tips! I recently learned about deleting cookies from your browser while searching for flights, so when I’m ready to book Thailand flights in a few months, these tips will come in handy! Thanks heaps 😀

  7. Great and super useful tips! thanks for sharing!

  8. Agree to all the points. What you mention in point 5 is particularly annoying! I hate those websites that increase the ticket price if I have checked it before. Usually it takes days of planning before I get to booking part and by the time I am done, the price gets so high, I have to start over again. Will start cleaning cookies now 🙂

    1. yeah totally! …. There are times I restart my system to be absolutely ‘fresh’ with the browser! 🙂

  9. Great tips for travelers. I implement may of these myself. I love checking out the fly anywhere tab on flight search engines to see where I can fly at the price I want to pay.

    1. Yeah, that really helps!… 🙂

  10. Amazing tips! Loved the way you have extensively explained everything😊 Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Deepika :)..

  11. Ooh these are all great tips and ones that I use myself, pretty frequently! I’d also add Skyscanner in the list of websites I check – I find that they often times have the cheapest flights. Great post!

    1. I agree on that!… It does help most often depending on your location 🙂

  12. It was a great read!! Awaiting more of such tips👍

    1. Thanks Hitasha :)…

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