How to save $$ on your airfares

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Last year I wrote an article on how to score the best deals on travel, looking at ways to save money on flights, accommodation and activities.  Since then I have discovered that there is a correlation between when and where people travel and how prices fluctuate.  Personally I now try to travel off peak to save myself a few dollars and to not get caught up in the stampede of tourists.  But when is the best time to travel and how can we get the best deal?  Let me unveil the secrets...

When to travel
Knowing when to travel can save you a lot of money as holiday periods, the Summer months and special events lead to airline companies hiking up their prices.  Christmas and New Years are always the most expensive times to fly, and are the worst times for you to plan a trip overseas if you care about your cash!  

As an example, a couple of days ago I did a search with Qantas to see what their prices would be to fly from Brisbane to the London over the Christmas period.  To fly to the UK in late November the price one way sat at about $760, jumping to just over a grand in early December and sky rocketing to $1,500 from mid December to Christmas Day!  Prices literally doubled in the matter of a few weeks, simply because it's Christmas and it's when a lot of people travel to visit family and friends.

Similarly, flights departing on Fridays are also far more expensive than say a flight departing on a Tuesday, simply because airlines know that people want to get away for a weekend and will pay what they have to.  In November I will be travelling down to Melbourne for uni studies, and so I had a quick peek at prices the other day to check out the damage.  Low and behold, the price difference between leaving Brisbane on a Friday as opposed to leaving on a Wednesday was $40 one way.  The difference between returning on a Sunday instead of a Tuesday was slightly less terrifying at $20 one way.  It might not sound like a lot, but when you're talking $300 round trip airfares, $60 is a huge figure!

So when is the best time to getaway?  According to the Cheapflights Compass Report for 2017, the cheapest months for Aussies to escape overseas are May and October, with the cheapest airfares generally being for flights departing on a Wednesday.  This sounds familiar doesn't it?  Personally I try to get away in Autumn or Spring, to avoid Summer and Winter price hikes (for those looking to chase it or get away from it).  

My best advice?  Before searching for a flight, consider the weather in the location you're heading to before deciding on a particular month for travel, but after that, be flexible and work with what's available.  Most airline companies will have an "I'm flexible with dates" button to help you save money, and will let you compare and contrast flights.  

Where to travel
Another good question, choosing a destination is not only a price factor, but is often one of the toughest decision for travellers who want to go everywhere!  Unfortunately there isn't a straight forward answer, as there are lots of things to consider like what you want to do, see and experience, which will all factor into your destination choice.

One thing I can suggest is once you have at least a country or region in mind, check the prices of flying to a similar destination elsewhere or a different city within the same country.  The Cheapflights Compass Report says that swapping a trip to French Polynesia for one in New Caledonia can save you over $1,500 in flights and still provide you with the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters you were hoping for.  Similarly, flying to Paris is the cheapest arrival port in Europe, and can be a great base for people wanting to explore more of Europe or the UK.

When picking an overseas destination, consider where you plan on going while you're there and whether there are alternative but similar destinations or arrival cities that could save you some money.  On my recent trip to Japan, my flight landed at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, when I actually wanted to be in Kyoto.  A 2 and a bit hour train ride later and I was in Kyoto, refreshed after a comfy nap and ready to go!  Not only did I save over a hundred dollars swapping my arrival destination, I also got to see some of the beautiful Japanese countryside.

When to book
When I start planning a holiday I get fair too excited and start looking up flights, accommodation and everything else under the sun (like a year or so in advance...).  Curiosity kills the cat in these situations, with statistics showing that booking 6-12 months in advance can actually see you paying 21% more!  And if you're waiting for that killer sale, I'm sorry to tell you that if you don't nab one and try booking less than a month out, you're going to be paying top dollar.

Here's where my trusty Cheapflights Compass Report comes in handy again!  The advice from the experts is to book 3-6 months out for long haul flights, and 1-3 months out for domestic and short haul flights.  And I have to say I agree and would never recommend waiting for sales that may or may not happen.
Patience is a virtue (well... sort of)
When it comes to planning a trip, whether international or domestic, and trying to save money in the process, it is important to remember that where you go and when you go there will always affect the price.  The only factor you can really control is when you book, so make sure you nail that one!

If you're anything like me and at lunchtime on a Monday are searching flights to anywhere-but-here, don't impulse buy without putting some thought into how to get the best value for your money :)  Booking flights at the right time is like Goldilocks tasting porridge, so take your time (but not too much!) and think everything through before clicking the book button!

If you have any other cost save tips for travelling please feel free to share them in the comments!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Cheapflights.  All opinions expressed are my own and were in no way influenced by the company.  The statistics contained in this blog are from the official Cheapflights Compass Report for 2017 and I take no responsibility for their truth or otherwise.

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  1. This is great advice about cheap airfare! If many people are like me, one of the things most holding me back from traveling is the price of airlines. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Very nice and informative. Keep writing like this.

    Thanks & Regards,

  3. Save airfare and airport parking charges. Enjoy stress-free trip. Have a safe journey. Stay blessed.
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  4. Wahoo! it's great ideas which you have shared. Definitely it will help to save money on airfares. You continued to publish articles like this.

    Thanks & Regards
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