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Cheap Plane Ticket Hunting -
Eyeing and Grabbing Cheap Airfares
Find the cheapest airfare and build your trip around your flight schedule.
Master good fare-seeking techniques and you will fly cheaper than others...
You may have your own techniques, but perhaps you'd like to widen your perspectives and learn new things.
Cheap plane tickets won't always pop-up after a flight comparison search and the agents also employ sneaky tricks making you think they're ticket is really the cheapest one.
Source: © iStock.com/nullplus
Fact is: there is no way to go around independent research.
You have to put effort and spend potentially weeks searching for the best-priced ticket.
Return tickets might not be the cheapest option, but a complicate route might be a better opportunity.
Flying around, touching multiple airports is more complex, but is often cheaper.
Indeed, the best solutions are often so twisted...
Suppose you want to get to Rome from London... You shouldn't limit yourself to the direct return flights, but check out alternative routes with intermediate stops (an example: London Heathrow - Frankfurt - Rome - Brussels - London Stansted).
#2 Pre-season and end-season flights
From my experience: pre-season costs less than end-season. People generally don't rush it, but keep postponing trips and they're more likely to travel late than "too early". Hence, the early fares tend to be lower.
For example: when traveling within Europe, March-May have some of the best prices on flights and, the weather is a lot more pleasant than during the October-November period, when airfares dunk again (but tend to stay higher than during March-May).
#3 Flying right after major holidays
Right after New Year's Day, people travel less than in any other periods of the year. Right after New Year's Eve is the worst period for travel agents and airlines.
...and, one of the best for cheap flight seekers.
The lowest prices on flights (and hotels on well) are around that post-New Year period.
We could say, the entire month of January is rather cheap and it might stretch into February.
#4 "Low cost" may cost you more!
A low cost airline might take as much out of your pockets or even more than a conventional carrier.
Because: low cost airlines tend to operate to secondary airports (transfer will take a lot out of your wallet), extra charges on luggage will squeeze even more out of you plus... those additional (unpublished) fees get added on top.
#5 Try fare comparison engines, but don't stick with them
There are countless fare comparison sites out there, but one thing you have to keep in mind: these are businesses focusing on profits, not mere handy tools created to help you.
Some of them place additional fees on top of the "naked fares" - and you won't notice that unless you check the same flight at an other agent's site or, directly on the airline's website.
My advice: check several flight comparison sites, then head for the conventional travel sites and the respective airline sites to find the same flights (and possible other ones as well) and compare them all together manually.
#6 Ever heard of "skiplagging"?
An ingenious site called Skiplagged helps you find so-called hidden city tickets to deliver you the cheapest airfares.
This involves finding cheaper tickets involving alternate routes, stop-overs. For example: an Istanbul-London ticket might cost you less if you bought an Istanbul-Reykjavik ticket with a London stop-over.
The skiplagging technique works excellently within the US, but airlines are obviously not enthusiastic about the hidden city tickets - read more about it in this CBS News article.
#7 Coupons "for members only"
Being subscribed to newsletters and being part of social media groups can pay off when they send out coupons to the members on the list.
Members get these benefits faster and companies know they're more likely to buy than "the guy on the street". Make sure you subscribe to a few lists and stay alert.
Some of the flight discount coupons never make it to the general coupon sites or, they are published too late. Better go straight: sign up to a few sites and stay alert.
#8 Airfare alerts
The site called Airfare Watchdog lets you set alerts according to various preferences.
For example: you can choose to be alerted about airfares on your favourite route on a daily basis, if you wish... and. there are finer refinements as well.
#9 Last minute flights
If you want to dance at the edge of the cliff, you can risk waiting or, just take an impulse-driven flight as soon as tomorrow.
Last minute flights can cost you a lot more, fares are cut as much as 75 %, if you're lucky.
These tickets sell out quickly, you have to rush it to grab the best prices. And, you have to be late enough for the discounts, but early enough for them not to sell out.
Find more details in my article about last minute travel techniques.
#10 The cheapest days to fly
Friday and Sunday are probably the worst (most expensive) and Tuesday, Wednesday are the cheapest days.
But how about Saturday? Well, in the USA, for instance, it's often cheaper than Friday or Sunday, when most people choose to fly in and out. But it's not a general rule.
#11 Early morning flights and night flights cost less
It will ache getting out to the airport let's say at 4 AM, but the fare might be worth it.
Afternoon flights tend to be among the most expensive ones.
#12 Start searching for deals in the morning
Whether on social media channels or the travel agents' websites - the discounted offers tend to appear in the early hours. Make sure you adjust to the agent's time zone.
Later, during the day, these deals might sell out.
#13 Clear your browser's cache
If you clear your cache, it might help getting back those cheaper prices you saw a few days before.
#14 Are you in for surprise destinations?
Use Kayak's Explore service. It will deliver you a list of airfares to various destinations around the globe - the fares appear as price tags at the location of target destinations (the site will simply detect your location).
This service is a handy tool, but does not guarantee the lowest airfares. You can use it to "sniff out" possibilities, then go to the airline sites and other agents' sites to check the latest prices.
#15 Consider flying to nearby airports
Check the flights to nearby destinations - of course, many cities have more airports and, some nearby cities' airports might not be very far away.
Alternatively you fly to a nearby airport and either fly, drive or ride a bus or train to your final destination.
#16 Check the charter airlines
Look up the airlines that serve the airport(s) to where you're flying and see which are charter flights. Although the tend to sell the tickets mostly to or through agents, you can generally find some on their sites as well.
A charter flight should be cheap, yet - comfort levels will be similar to a low cost airline's.
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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