14 Ways to Cut Flight Costs When Booking Plane Tickets
The Airwander website, slated for post-Covid relaunch in the fall of this year, is a good option if you plan to travel to multiple cities or want to add unexpected destinations at no or negligible cost. Airwander offers stopover options for your itinerary, as well as the estimated cost, when you provide your origin and destination points, and the days you can spend at stopovers. This means that you can visit one or more additional cities at little or no cost when it comes to flights. So if you’re traveling from Delhi to New York, you can take a two-day break in Helsinki and a three-day break in Stockholm, which appear as stopovers, without adding much to your initial trip cost.
2. STOPOVER FLIGHTS
Most people think that flights with stopovers are cheaper than direct flights, but this does not apply to flights at all levels. This is usually true for long-haul flights, where you can cut fares almost in half if you choose ones with layovers or even layovers. For example, the cheapest direct one-way flight from Delhi to New York, for July 25, costs Rs.1,33,251 (on Skyscanner), while the cheapest flight with a stopover is available for as little as Rs. .75,334. On the other hand, direct flights of short duration are generally cheaper than those with stopovers, especially in India. For example, the cheapest direct one-way Delhi-Bangkok flight costs 10,980 rupees, compared to a flight with one stopover which costs 11,482 rupees, and those with two or more stops start from 32,218 rupees per person.
3. INDIVIDUAL FLIGHT TICKETS
When you go on a family or group vacation, it is more convenient to book multiple tickets in one transaction. However, you will get a lower flight fare if you book individual tickets as airlines show the highest price for group bookings. For example, the one-way fare for a Delhi-Bali flight for a single person in economy class for July 25 is 11,804 rupees on Skyscanner, but for three people the price per person would be 12,238 rupees.
4. WITHOUT SHIFT
It’s a controversial, but perfectly legal trick used by airfare search engine, Skiplagged, to drastically cut your flight costs. Instead of booking a flight from point A to point B, the website helps you find routes from point A to point C, with your destination, point B, as your layover/stopover. You therefore disembark at point B without completing the last leg of your journey. The reason your fares are discounted is that one-stop flights, especially for long-haul flights, are much cheaper than direct flights. However, there are a few pitfalls to this option. You will not be able to carry checked baggage as it will reach the final destination and you can also only book a one-way ticket.
If you’re planning a vacation abroad, but don’t have a destination in mind and are budget conscious, check out Google Explore (https://www.google.com/travel/explore). It will show you flight fares for all destinations around a given area if you type in your starting point. You can choose a destination with low flight prices. Within a single country, you can also plan a multi-city itinerary by checking which cities offer the lowest airfares. You don’t have to book at the fares shown using Google Flights, and you can also check fares from other comparison sites. A similar tool is Escape, where you can get flight prices to anywhere in the world.
6.OPTIMAL DAY AND TIME
Many believe that flight fares are lower on certain days of the week, but there is no such rule. Simply check the entire month for rates on comparison or aggregation sites and choose the date that shows the lowest rate. When it comes to time, however, chances are you’ll get cheaper flights before 8am or if you book the red-eye flights. For example, the direct one-way Delhi-Kolkata IndiGo flight available at 6:05 a.m. costs Rs 5,052, but at 12:25 p.m. it costs Rs 5,596.
7. ALTERNATIVE AIRPORTS
If you are flying to larger cities, domestic or international, you are required to pay a higher airfare if using the main airport, as airlines have to pay more fees to use the busier airports. So look for alternative airports around your destination city where fares are lower. Make sure this airport is not too far from your destination, otherwise you might end up spending a lot of money on taxi fares which defeats the purpose. Some flight booking portals and aggregators, such as Skyscanner and Cheapflights, offer the option to choose nearby or alternative airports at reduced costs, so you can check them out.
8. BUDGET OR LOCAL AIRLINES
When traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to book intercity flights with local or low-cost airlines to reduce your travel costs. Some of these smaller airlines may not show up on popular search engines and you may need to research them online before going to their websites and booking, but it will be worth the money you save by traveling. In Turkey, for example, the best option for intercity travel is by air to save time and effort, and some of the domestic airlines you can choose from are AnadoluJet, Sun Express, and Corendon, among others.
9. MULTIPLE COMBINATIONS OF AIRLINES
It’s more convenient to book round-trip airfare with the same airline, but your best option for lowering fares is to use an aggregator site that offers multiple airline combinations. For example, if you were to use Qatar Airways to book a one-way Delhi-London flight with a layover, the cheapest option on Skyscanner would be Rs.25,220 for July 25. If you booked a return with the same airline, the fare would be Rs 1,08,857, but a combination of Air France and KLM would result in a fare of Rs 69,584, which is Rs 39,273 less. You can also book tickets for multiple airlines through Star Alliance or Oneworld global airline alliances by becoming a member of one of their partner airline frequent flyer programs.
10. PAY IN LOCAL CURRENCY CHEAPER
Travel and aggregator sites prefer that you pay in the currency of the country you are booking from or in the international currency used in the country. But you should try to find out if you can pay in cheaper currencies if you visit countries where the value of the rupee is higher. So if you are traveling to Indonesia, Vietnam, Iceland, South Korea, Sri Lanka or other countries whose currencies are cheaper than the rupiah, try to pay in their currencies to keep your costs down. The savings in some cases may not be too great, so be mindful of foreign currency transaction fees on your credit card to avoid paying the same amount or more.
11. AGGREGATORS VS AIRLINES
While aggregation sites and search engines are the best choice for booking multiple airline flights, in some cases airline websites may offer better deals. Indeed, the former usually display inflated fares and also charge transaction or service fees, which can increase your flight costs, especially if you are traveling as a family or in a group. On the other hand, with specific airlines, you can benefit from discounts, special offers, flash sales, loyalty program discounts and co-branded credit cards to reduce your costs. If you still prefer an aggregator site, choose the one that offers more flight combinations, lower fares, more filtering options, and low service fees.
12. TRAVEL MAPS AND AIRLINE PROGRAMS
If you’re a frequent flyer, it’s a good idea to get co-branded or generic credit cards that offer a good rewards program, or opt for airline frequent flyer mile programs. This allows you to convert your reward points into airline miles, reducing your flight costs. Take the Air India
Signature card, which offers 30 reward points for every Rs.100 spent on Air India tickets booked through Airindia.com or the Airindia mobile app, or InterMiles Diners Club card, which offers 16 InterMiles on every Rs.150 spent on flights booked on .intermiles.com flights, among many others.
13. SOCIAL MEDIA AND PRICE ALERTS
Opting for alerts is perhaps the easiest way to reduce the cost of your flight. Subscribe to fare alerts on travel booking sites or airlines and find out about lower prices or special offers for cheaper flights. Similarly, follow the airlines’ pages on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to take advantage of flash sales, discounts and early booking offers to reduce the cost of your flight.
14. PASS INTO UNKNOWLEDGE
This is one of the best known secrets to ensure a lower flight price. Most aggregator or airline sites track your search patterns via cookies and IP addresses. So if you check the price of a flight on a particular website and come back to it after a while, you are likely to find a higher fare. To avoid this, you can use incognito mode or delete all cookies after use. In the case of Google Chrome, you can click on the three dots in the right corner of the screen and in the drop-down menu click on “New incognito window” to browse secretly.