Today there are many ways to secure the best flight deal, while avoiding flight fees and most involve planning and understanding the system.
This is the first in a 2 part series looking at how to secure the best flight deals…
The primary and most important piece of advice is to do your research. Easy but not executed. Often the best flight deal can be found by comparing the comparison sites like Orbitz.com Expedia.com or Travelocity.com. However after these have been checked go direct and look at booking your itinerary directly from the airlines’ website, which often give better fares in order to side step the comparison sites/ aggregators.
For short trips for which nonstop flights are available, the comparison sites will yield similar itineraries, schedules and flights. The advantage of the fare search websites in this case is that they will report the fares from several airlines on the same page thereby saving you the effort of having to visit multiple airline websites and doing a search on each and having to note down the results to compare them later. Nevertheless, for some airlines, you might get a better price directly from their website/search tool or through a discount coupon.
This brings us to reward programs. BMI are currently promoting their credit card with a air points giveaway that essentially entitles people to a return flight to Europe for two people excluding taxes. This bring financial complexities if you mis-manage a credit card, but ultimately can pay dividends. Look for cashback or other benefits like ticket combinations with hotel or tourist tickets.
For longer itineraries, there can be various combinations for flights that will get you to your destination. This is where research will pay off, as the more obvious and straightforward the solution, in general the more expensive it will be. New airline carriers tend to be cheaper in order to attract new customers, but you need to know wehat these are. Travel websites etc will help you find these and the best routes to get to your destination, even if it is via Azerbaijan.
Flights might be from different airlines and so it may not be possible to get your entire itinerary from the website of a single airline and you may have to book parts of your journey individually from different airlines. This is where the aggregating websites come into their own. They will consider various possible combinations of flights and stops in an attempt to present you with the best possible fare and you can book your entire itinerary in one go. This is even more important for long/international trips because as the length increases, the number of possible combinations rises exponentially. All of this means that you need to do your research.
2 Key lessons for securing the best flight deal en route:
The cheapest is not always the best value!
We flew from Hong kong to Vietnam for £80, where the average cost was £150. The airline was an Asian budget carrier and the customer support was poor. However thankfully despite needing to confirm the flight, which took over a week everything worked out nicely. A lesson we took from this was that if you needed a level of support or flexibility then you were unlikely to get the best deal.
Similarly we needed to fly to Rio de Janerio for Christmas from Salvador in Brazil. Here we chose to purchase a refundable ticket, which cost us 50% extra. Yet, we did indeed need to cancel our flight and so managed to get back our £250 cash back minus a £50 admin fee (which are always extortionate). This lesson is about ensuring you are able to abide by the ticketing rules and buy a ticket that matches your needs.