HOW TO : Get the best deals when booking flights
One question I get often is how come I get to travel a lot. The answer is: Aside from being a passion, I travel cheap and take advantage of anything that I can save on. As I said, there are many ways to travel cheap and you don’t have to be rich to see the world.
One of my biggest savers is booking cheap flights. I’m a sucker for it! Finding a cheap flight allows me to save money for other travel expenses & more rewarding experiences. Savings can go up to 80% from the normal flight cost if you booked at the right time.
The examples I’ll cite come from experiences in booking Philippines / Southeast Asia flights – but the advice goes for anyone keen on saving. Feel free to share your advice on the comments section.
Here’s my personal advice on how to get & book cheap flights:
Be on the know
The most important tip is to be alert for flight deals & promotions. Airlines run promotions and deals for flights often so check their websites regularly. Opt to subscribe to alerts & newsletters if they have one.
Also, I prefer to use social media particularly Twitter to get update on deals. Compared to newsletters, twitter allows you to get the information real-time. Follow & “like” their pages. Here’s my list of twitter handles of Philippine & Southeast Asian budget airlines.
PERSONAL TIP: Cebu Pacific often announce their promotion deals between 12-2 in the afternoon and 12-2am in the morning so make sure you check the site / twitter feeds that time.
PERSONAL TIP 2: Some airlines adjust their fares online depending on what time you are accessing the site. For example, checking for flights during lunchtime can yield more expensive flights than checking let’s say at 3:00pm.
Ask yourself: What are you willing to sacrifice?
And often time & distance are the things you have to fore-go. Two things:
- Flights very late at night or very early in the morning are often cheaper.
- Flying from low-cost airports are also usually cheaper.
In the Philippines for example, Clark Airport is 2-3 hours away from the main NAIA airport in Manila and can add extra hours of travel & transportation. But flying in and out there can save you more than 50% on costs. If you don’t mind waking up early, sleeping on airports or travelling longer to save costs, then follow this advice – I’m sure that the savings you’ll make can pay-up for an hour massage!
Flight are cheaper when booked months in advance. As the travel date goes closer, the prices go higher. So if you can afford to book flights early, then go do it!
Fly on weekdays
Flying on weekends can be expensive, so avoid it if you can. Flights fares are the most expensive usually on Fridays and returning flights on Sunday nights or Monday mornings. So if you can afford, avoid these dates. Weekdays like Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally cheaper.
Ask yourself (again): What do you REALLY need?
Flights work nowadays on a pay-as-you-want scheme, where you pay for “extra” for insurance, luggage, food etc.
Do you really need a 20kg luggage allowance for a weekend trip? Chances are you don’t. Luggage usually costs 500pesos-1000 pesos (10-20€ for a return flight), which can be 30-50% of your flight cost. And if you only need it to pack your third pair of shoes, then it’s time to reconsider what YOU NEED TO BRING.
My advice? Travel on carry-on – it’s cheaper and gives you no room to over-pack.
For purchasing insurance, it depends and I go both ways on this. I usually don’t purchase insurance – but I see that it has its value. Though, if you’re flying on summer and on a 2 hour flight, then the flight insurance will serve you no purpose – so better scrap it. But if you’re flying on typhoon season using a small plane, then better think twice and snag that insurance. It’s not that expensive anyway.
Use common sense: Flights can’t be cheap forever
If you are trying to book flight a week before, chances are you won’t get in cheap. So don’t assume that you’ll get it cheap.
Flights can go only as cheap, so don’t expect to find a 500 pesos (10€) international flight often. Flight fares can only go as low – so if you manage to find a flight to Bangkok from Manila for 4,000 pesos – snag the deal. To enjoy, you have to spend somehow right?
What do you think about the tips? Do you have any other tips in mind? Suggest them below!