Thursday, August 9, 2018

Tips on How to Find the Best Airline Ticket

Ask fellow passengers in an airplane how much they paid for their ticket and you will get a dozen different prices. With endless search engines and continually fluctuating prices, the approach to frugal flight booking is overwhelming. Book early: It used to be that the best booking window was 6–8 weeks before your flight, book as soon as you know when you're going, instead of playing the waiting game.

While many theories exist around booking specifically on a Tuesday to save money, the reality is: there is no consistent truth to exactly which days are cheapest to fly.  Most of the time it is cheaper to leave on a weekday, though this isn't always the case.  Your best strategy is to get a quick visual of prices for a whole month to see what days are cheapest for your specific route.  ThriftyNomads explains how you can go about it:

Step 1.
Hop on the Skyscanner website or download the app

Step 2.
Enter your departure & arrival cities

Step 3.
Select “one-way” (even if flying round trip – you're just determining the cheapest days to fly out first)

Step 4.
On a computer: click “Depart” but instead of entering a date, select “Whole Month”, and then “Cheapest Month” so you can browse all dates to see which is cheapest.  Hit “Search flights” to easily see which date is the cheapest.

Repeat these steps for your return flight if applicable.  You can still book a round trip in one booking, but doing these steps first will let you see which dates are generally cheaper to fly in/out on for your round trip. and Google Flights work similarly to Skyscanner, plus they have map views as well, so you can see where the airport is.  

Not All Search Engines Are Equal
Whenever many people tend to search Expedia or Orbitz. These sites either work with or are owned by the airline companies and don't offer unbiased fares.  Moreover, many sites don't list budget carriers because those airlines don't want to pay a booking commission. The best search engines are the ones that have no affiliation with any airline and make their money via advertising, not bookings.  Search as many flight search websites, such as Skyscanner, Kayak, Google Flights, AirFare Watchdog, Momondo, JetRadar, or Kiwi etc. as you can to ensure you are leaving no stone unturned.  But there is no perfect airline search engine. Even the best have their faults.
Here are some essential tips to find the best airline ticket prices:
Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates
If you are not flexible with the dates you want to fly, you will never be able to find a cheap flight.  Airline ticket prices vary depending on the day of the week, time of year, and upcoming holidays, such as Christmas, New Year's Eve, Thanksgiving.  In Europe, August is a big month for traveling, as many Europeans vacation then and so airline tickets tend to be higher that month.
Fly on Weekdays
It's always cheaper to fly during the middle of the week than on a weekend because most people travel on the weekends and airlines hike their prices as a result.  If you fly directly on a major holiday, prices are also a bit cheaper.  Early-morning or late-night flights are also cheaper because fewer people want to travel then.  Before you commit to your departure, make sure you check other dates so you can pick the cheapest day.  The difference of a day can mean hundreds of dollars in savings.
Be Flexible with Your Destinations
Instead of going to a place with an expensive flight, fly where it's cheapest.  Kayak offers the "Explore" tool, which allows you to put in your airport and see which routes have the cheapest fares.  If you are flexible with your destination, this is a great way to start researching where to go.  Google Flights also offers a great tool too.
Take Advantage of Student Discounts
If you are a student, there are many discounts available to you.  Check out STA Travel and its search engine.  You can find flexible student tickets on its website and at agency stores. If you're Canadian, check out Travel Cuts for deals.
Consider Budget Airlines
Flying with the budget airlines might be a good alternative to flying "the majors".  
You get fewer perks, but you can save a bundle in ticket costs.  For example, WOW air is introducing cheap fares to Iceland and London from the United States.  Air Asia offers crazy-cheap deals around Asia and Australia for as little as $100 each way. Indian and Middle Eastern airlines offer cheap flights throughout the subcontinent and Africa.  Many times, these low-cost airlines offer no-fare tickets — you pay just the taxes.  However, be aware there are lots of disadvantages, such as hidden fees, unfavorable schedules, baggage restrictions, and everything in the plane is “bare-bones”.  There is no free meal or drinks and the flight attendants’ salary depends on how many items they can sell to passengers.
Secondary airports that low-cost carriers fly into are often quite distant from the cities they purportedly serve.  How far?  Oslo Torp is 113km (71 miles) north of Oslo.  Stockholm Skavsta is located about 100km (65 miles) from Stockholm.  Frankfurt Hahn sits 120 km (75 miles) west of Frankfurt.  Be sure to check out how far the airports are from the city center — sometimes transportation from the airport to the city can actually make a budget airline ticket more expensive writes Eurocheapo.
Sign Up for a Frequent Flier Program
Airline rewards programs are a great way to get free flights, free upgrades, and free companion tickets.  No matter how often you fly, you should be registered for the airline's reward program so you can grow your balance over time.  Major alliances work with partners and you can earn miles and rewards with those partner flights.  This way you can always earn miles when you fly. 
Moreover, there are lots of other ways to earn miles even if you aren't jet-setting around the world all the time:  Shop at member stores - All airlines have special offers for large consumer companies such as Apple, Best Buy, or Target.  Shopping at these preferred stores will earn you 2-4 miles per dollar spent, though sometimes there are deals for up to 10 miles per dollar spent.  If you spend $1,000 a month, you can earn up to 3,000 miles just by going through their websites. The products don't cost extra, so you only win. 

When airlines get into price wars or offer new routes, they often launch ridiculous double- or triple-mile offers.  Many people then fly these routes just for the miles. They will fly from California to New York and back again if they find a dirt-cheap fare, in order to gain miles. Mileage runs are very common and, while not free, can be a useful method to gain a lot of miles on a cheap fare.
Put everything on your credit card — from Starbucks to phone bills. If you collect 36,000 miles per year you get a free flight to Europe just for using your credit card. In the movie “Up in the Air”, George Clooney's character said, "I don't do anything if it doesn't benefit my miles account."     
When purchasing a fare from an airline based abroad, use a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign currency conversion fee, even if the price is quoted in dollars.
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This could be triple miles on a selected route or something their recent promotion because they often feature offers not found on an airline's website. 
The days of all-inclusive service on airline travel has long passed, so picking the right airline is crucial. Want to check in that bag? Want more legroom? That snack on United is going to cost you… even on an international flight. If you have particular needs, you’ll need to check with your airline ahead of time, before you easily spend an extra $50 check-in a bag for a roundtrip trip. 
Cheap airfare has made travel more possible for the budget-conscious among us, but that doesn’t mean it’s all fine. Before you buy your ticket, make sure you know exactly what you are (and aren’t!) paying for. Surprises are lovely unless they involve costly unforeseen travel expenses. 

Most important of all: Learn about your rights as a passenger.  In case of delays and cancellations, you will be glad you were using a European airline, as they have some of the most generous passenger rights and refunds in the world.

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