When is the best time to book a cheap flight? Is the day of the week or the pre-reservation deadline at all important?
Unfortunately, there is no magic trick to always find cheap flights, but there are studies that reveal certain predictions and trends to look out for. Because in addition to fuel prices and landing fees or new airlines that want to make a name for themselves, there are many factors that will affect the price.
1. Ticket rates
Basically, airline tickets become cheaper if they cannot be changed or canceled, if they do not allow a longer stopover, or if you pay directly at the time of booking and fly only with hand luggage. Also, some exit times are more in demand than others. And direct flights tend to be more expensive than those with stopovers. With such base prices, you have to pay extra for the additions, such as luggage, food or seat reservation, which can be expensive.
2. Period prior to booking
Meanwhile, there are already some studies and statistics about the well-known saying "who books before, pays less". That may be, but not necessarily. A study published in 2014 had found that most international flights between 170 and 50 days before departure are on average the cheapest. Within this period, prices change only slightly. Before, they are usually higher.
The International Air Transport Association also determined that the fare also depends on the day of the week and three weeks before departure. A Tuesday would be the best choice, if the trip is still at least three weeks in the future. Shortly before departure, Sunday flight bookings are cheaper. If you fly on a Monday or Thursday (except holidays) you can save up to 25 percent.
3. Reservation platform or search engine?
Fortunately, there are many good flight search engines on the Internet that you probably already know. After all, not all search engines find all flights. They all have their own search algorithm and rules and results. Prices change during the reservation. Hidden "service fees" are sometimes not considered from the beginning. The consumer center has filed several lawsuits against this practice. But suppliers are always inventing new tricks.
In addition, tour operators buy tickets to airlines, which they then resell. Therefore, it is possible that a ticket of a certain reservation class is already sold out on the airline itself, and that the organizer is still available.
4. Earn miles and loyalty points
Almost all current airlines offer a loyalty program. That can be called points, miles or Avios. Depending on the airline, you can pick them up by means of flights, but also by refueling, renting a car, booking a hotel or going shopping. This is especially useful for frequent travelers or long trips.
5. Stand-By flights
Stand-By is probably the cheapest option to fly, but it is not very easy to obtain, since they are usually issued only to employees of airlines or their families. Booking tickets are tickets with large discounts issued on a route, but not on a specific flight. You go with this ticket to the counter and you register for the next available seat and then you wait.
6. Seat reservation
Have you noticed that the same flights are available for less money on different websites? This phenomenon is especially common with domestic flights. If you search flights on the country sites where you are flying, they are usually much cheaper.
You can also save money on international flights, depending on the location. For example, if you want to fly with a Hong Kong airline, it could cost less if you also “book in Hong Kong”. If, you fool the search engine of your choice.
Many search engines allow you to select the language, location and currency. If you change all these things to for example; English as the preferred language, the United States as the country and the US dollar is the currency.
Book cheap flights with VPN
And if any of the above didn’t work? Well then here’s another trick! The good news: you do not physically have to be in another country, it is enough if it is your laptop or your IP address is.
Meaning: a VPN - a virtual private network. This is less complicated than it might seem at first and you do not even have to know the technical side behind it to use it. In short, you hide your the real IP address and choose a new one from another country. Be careful to use a trusted tool to ensure your data is encrypted and not stored.
Because flight tickets abroad are often cheaper for locals. With a VPN software, you trick the booking portal into accessing to the web page from within the country instead.
According to the experts, it is generally worth looking for foreign flights through foreign portals: for example, flights from Amsterdam should be better priced by a Dutch site, since prices tend to be cheaper on local websites.
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