In October 2014 I booked over 15 different flights to different destinations all around Asia and paid less than 120USD. Some friends asked me how I managed to find tickets at such a price and to be honest: it was 70% strategy and 30% luck, but with some of these tips you can find your ticket for the right price too.
1. Have the money before you start searching
Probably the most important tip I can give you. The prices vary a lot and today can be the cheapest price you will ever see. There is nothing more depressing than finding cheap tickets and not having the money ready to pay for them. It´s definetely better to never have seen them at all than having both seen and lost them.
2. Flexible travel dates
I know that everyone prefers flying on a friday after work and coming back on a sunday night before the football game, but being flexible has its benefits. Usually the cheapest flights are on Sunday or Tuesday in the morning hours.
3. Flexible destinations
The key to getting a cheap ticket is to be flexible – not only in terms of dates, but also airports. Sometimes it is cheaper to fly to a city close by than directly to your destination. Personally I check all the airports located at 200 km around the place I want to travel to.
4. Search for the low cost airports
Also you can search, which airports are located near your city and search flights from these airports to secondary airports close to your destination. Budget airlines such as Ryanair in Europe, Tiger Airways in Asia or AirBlue in the USA fly from secondary airports to reduce cost and taxes.
5. Use the ITA Software
This program, made by an engineer at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is an airfare search system where you can look for as many flights from/to as many destinations as you want for the lapse of days you want and it finds the cheapest price. Although you can´t directly book tickets with the system, you will know on which day and from which airport the tickets are the cheapest.
6. Compare different websites
Every website offers a different price. I think the biggest mistake you can make is to buy the tickets at the first website you check. Everytime I want to get a flight ticket I compare the prices of 3 different search machines, the website of the airline and another website I trust.
7. Check the official airline website for offers
Be a fan of the different airlines’ facebook sites, they usually post the different offers they have, or check the airline website to learn about sales to certain destinations. For example: Wednesday is Air France day and they offer discounts on tickets all around the world.
8. Double-check at different hours
Once I read that the best time to look for a flight is on tuesdays at 9pm. Unfortunately it wasn’t specified in which time zone. I prefer to check for 4 or 5 days how the tendency of the price depends on the different hours. The price changes constantly and although there is sometimes just a difference of 10 USD, it still counts.
9. Sign up for a frequent flyer program
Signing up for a frequent flyer program is free and gives you lots of benefits. You don´t need to be up in the air 7 days a week to collect miles, almost every program offers miles when you buy some products, when you use their credit cards or subscribe for a specific magazine. Here is an article on how a guy earned more than a million miles buying pudding. Yes!! pudding!!!
10. Trust your instinct.
You will never know for sure if the price is going down or up, but you can trust your instincts and book when you feel you just found the price you were expecting to book. That’s where these 30% luck I was talking about before come into play.
Good article. I’m facing many of these issues as well..