It’s a common situation when two tourists, flying on the same plane in adjacent seats, have ticket prices that differ by several times. For one, the trip comes out as an expensive treat, and for the other – as a freebie. And it doesn’t matter where the plane is going: the principles of bargain-buying are always the same. The main thing – take an interest in finding tickets and buy them yourself.
We have been traveling as a family for 10 years, and we try to fly as cheaply as possible. During this time we have gained experience in finding and buying tickets. For ourselves we have formed 10 rules which allow you to save significantly on airline tickets on foreign trips.
Plan in advance
Planning a vacation at the last minute usually ends up being a big waste of money. Even last minute deals (when there is a price cut before you fly out) need to think ahead.
Flights come in two types: scheduled and charter.
Most of the tickets that are on sale in the free market are for regular flights. Scheduled flights have a fixed schedule. Tickets are usually on sale six months or even a year in advance. In all that time before departure the price changes all the time, but there are certain patterns:
The first time a destination and schedule are launched, tickets are cheaper.
Closer to departure, prices for scheduled flights become higher, especially a few days before departure.
To fly cheaply you need to buy tickets at least a month in advance. Inquire about prices at least 2-3 months in advance – the earlier the better. If you want to save on a flight for the New Year, you can buy tickets even a year before departure.
From time to time in the low season airlines hold sales – for example at the end of winter, in early spring or fall. Naturally, in order not to miss them, you should inquire about the plane prices in advance.
Charter flights are organized by tour operators to create tour packages (tours) – these are always direct flights with included luggage. There are usually not many charter destinations, these are flights to the most popular mass tourism resorts. Some places on charters are sold openly. Characteristics of charters is that unlike regular flights they can become significantly cheaper a few days before departure.
Last minute charters and tours at a price of a flight
Charters mostly fly to the sea, but there are exceptions, for example there are to Prague or Istanbul. If your goal is primarily a beach vacation and you will not be embarrassed by the large number of compatriots nearby, then the charters will do you good.
Cheap charters occur when there is little time before departure and tour operators are willing to discount the remaining seats. In this case it’s even better to buy a travel package – round-trip ticket, hotel accommodation with transfers and insurance – all for the price of a regular flight, or even cheaper.
Compare airline prices
Passenger air travel is a competitive market. Several airlines with different pricing policies and conditions fly to the same destinations. In order to find a suitable and profitable flight you should compare the offers of all the companies. It is more convenient to do it with the help of metasearch services.
Fill in the form: from where, to where, dates, and how many passengers. As a result, you get a list of all options for departures, different in price, departure time, number of transfers, luggage requirements, etc.
The sites analyze all available flights: both scheduled and charter. Check neighboring dates that you can fly too, the price may be lower.
Choice of fare
There is such a thing as a low-cost airline. In Europe – Wizz air, Ryanair, EasyJet, EuroWings, Vueling, Norwegian Air. Prices for low fares at these companies are much lower than competitors because of the reduction of services, but you will pay for additional services. If you decide to save money by flying low-cost airlines, read airline rules carefully. If you forget to buy the extra service you need in advance, it will cost you even more at the airport.
Two important factors that greatly affect the price of the ticket – what luggage is included in the price and whether you can return the ticket if you want. When buying always pay attention to this and make an informed decision.
It is possible to save on luggage if you are prepared to fly with one small bag or backpack that can be taken as hand luggage. Each airline has its own requirements for the weight and size of hand luggage. Remember that the low-cost company employees at the airport will really weigh and measure it.
The metasearch engines display mostly non-refundable fare tickets, so it’s cheaper to fly on a plane. But, if you have doubts that the trip might not happen, it makes sense to hedge and pay more for a refundable fare on the airline’s website, which could save you money in the end in the event of a cancellation.
Tracking prices and sales (when to buy)
Decided on a travel destination and have already looked up the price of tickets for your date through the metasearch engine? You still have a few months to spare and now the question is – buy now or wait for a sale? And one more question – how do you find out about the sale?
Check the cost of flights to the desired destination a year in advance. Immediately see how low the price can be, as well as how many days (weeks, months) it is worth buying.
This way you will not miss the right time to buy, and do not miss possible sales of airlines to the destination you are interested in.
Magic tools for finding airline tickets
It’s easiest to look for a cheap plane ticket if you don’t care where or when you fly. In this case, you can buy a bargain ticket right now by using special search tools.
Advanced search Skyscanner
When you are still undecided where to fly to, it makes sense to look at another metasearch engine, there you can find out what you have not seen in the tools Aviaseles. In Skyscanner right from the homepage you can do a broad search: in the “Where to” field put the “Everywhere” option, and in the “Round trip” select “Cheapest Month”. The result will be a list of the cheapest destinations.
Alternative departure options
You can expand your list of options by considering an alternative city of departure – a nearby major city that is easy to get to by car, cab or bus.
Tourist seasons and weekends (when it’s cheap to fly)
In air travel, as in any market, the rule of supply and demand works. Tourism activity is associated with beach and ski seasons, holidays, and weekends, which affects tickets. These periods people book en masse, and prices are always higher than average.
If you factor in the season, you can save well. Here are some tips for planning trips:
- Tickets are always expensive for New Year’s vacation dates, but in December before the New Year and in January after, on the contrary, they have low prices. If you want to celebrate the New Year away from home and save on airfare, plan your departure date about a week before New Year.
- Most of the country’s population plans their vacations for the summer months, so there is an increased demand in the summer. If you compare months to each other, July and August are the most expensive, but June is cheaper.
- Each tourist destination has its own seasonality associated with climatic features of the country. If your goal is to fly to a seaside resort, it’s worth reading about the seasons of the particular place in more detail.
- In high season to get to the resort is always more expensive, but there are transitional months when you can swim and relax with savings.
- Ticket prices are also related to the work week. Increased demand exists on weekends. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday are the most in demand. It will be more economical to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Exchange Rates and Ticket Prices
If you like to travel abroad, you should pay attention to the exchange rate. Every week on Tuesday night the tickets are adjusted to the current exchange rate.
If you’ve already figured out how to find bargain tickets through Skyscanner, you can start saving money by putting together unconventional itineraries.
In a simple case, when you want to fly from point A to point B and then return back to point A, it’s better to buy a round-trip ticket at once. It is often cheaper than paying for a return trip there and back separately.
Or you can create a more complicated itinerary, visit several cities, and the total price may be even less than just a round trip ticket to one of those cities. This method works well in Europe if you fly low-cost airlines.
Skyskanner even has a special feature for compiling complicated itineraries.
With the complex itineraries feature of metasearch engines, you can book flights with connections for more than a day – a good way to see another city on the way.