4 Ways Savvy Travellers Find The Best Flights
Itching for a vacation?
For most of us, arranging for a getaway means taking stock of all the expenses that we’ll incur. And if you’re flying overseas, that could mean a lot of expenses. But this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to travel frugally or cut corners to stretch your budget. With a bit of planning and know-how, you could potentially score great deals on your flight tickets.
Here are four ways to get the most bang for your buck when you book a flight:
1. Use multiple flight comparison sites
Use a flight comparison site to compare airlines and routes instantly.
It’s worth searching on more than one comparison site as each platform can return slightly different results. Some platforms won’t list smaller airlines or budget carriers because they don’t pay out commission for directing users to them.
As these sites differ in terms of pricing, we compared the following popular platforms for the cheapest direct return tickets to three destinations for travel in February 2020:
Most of the time, you won’t see huge price differences between different comparison sites – but you may be able to shave a bit off the cost of your ticket, which is a pretty good deal in exchange for a few extra clicks.
Flight comparison sites aren’t just useful for looking up the cheapest flights. You can also use them to sort flights by duration and departure or arrival time. Google Flights and Momondo will even let you filter out the ‘best’ flights, which are determined by balancing the trade-off between price and travel duration.
2. Time your bookings
If you’re looking for cheaper airfare, timing plays a huge factor.
Generally, booking your flight earlier yields the greatest fare savings. Skyscanner found that the best time for Malaysians to book the cheapest flights was 19 weeks (almost five months!) in advance. If you can’t plan that far ahead, try booking at least one or two months in advance. Otherwise, you could be paying a huge premium if you wait until the last minute:
If you’ve got a destination in mind but you haven’t decided when to go, use Skyscanner’s Cheapest Month tool. This tool helps you find the best months to travel on a budget, avoiding soaring prices during peak travel seasons.
But what if you absolutely can’t be flexible with your travel dates? Say you can only afford one week off from work, and you can only take it during a specific month of the year. In this case, you’ll want to be flexible with your destination. Plug in your travel dates into Google Flights and click on “More destinations”. You’ll get to see, at a glance, which destinations are on sale during these dates.
3. Choose your airline wisely
Getting something that’s cheap doesn’t always equate to getting the best value. While you may be tempted to scrimp on airfare as much as you can, it may be worth it to ditch the budget airline during long-haul flights.
When you fly with budget carriers, you pay extra for check-in baggage and inflight meals. That’s not really a big deal if you’re on a two-hour flight to a weekend holiday destination. But if you’re flying somewhere far away, and you’ve got to pack your winter clothing, and you’ve promised to bring your overseas friends their favourite Malaysian snacks, you may end up paying much more than your original airfare.
Flying with a full-service carrier offers you a far more comfortable travel experience during long flights. After all, you don’t want to arrive at your destination only to have to recuperate from the flight.
Some airlines also allow you to buy joint itineraries (i.e. when you travel with two different airlines under a single ticket/booking). This offers perks that make long-haul flights more comfortable, such as the convenience of having to deal with only one ticket or enjoying through check-in of baggage across your flights.
On the other hand, not all full-service carriers are equal. Some offer roomier seats and a larger check-in baggage allowance, so it’s best to be aware of these features when deciding between different airlines.
Estimated airfare for a return ticket to Osaka in February 2020
|Airline A||Airline B||Singapore Airlines|
|Check-in baggage||RM358 (20kg)||RM0 (20kg)||RM0 (30kg)|
|Inflight meal (x2)||RM30||RM0||RM0|
|Economy seat pitch and width*||32", 16.5"||31-32", 18"||32", 19"|
|Total airfare cost||RM1,649||RM2,671||RM1,573|
4. Take advantage of special deals and price drops
Occasionally, not booking your flight months ahead can actually pay off, as airlines sometimes offer special deals and last-minute discounts.
But how do you keep track of these deals? Do you have to obsessively check flight fares every day, or be part of a special cult with insider information? Fortunately, it actually requires very little effort. Here are a few painless ways to get the best deals:
- Set up price alerts. Most flight comparison sites will allow you to set up a price alert for your destination of choice. In the event of a price drop, you’ll be sent a notification.
- Subscribe to deal sites. Don’t have time to scour the internet for the airfare deals? Sites like Secret Flying compile the best deals for you.
- Follow airlines on social media. Put your social media addiction to good use by following your favourite airlines’ Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for updates on the latest sales.
- Subscribe to newsletters. Besides following airlines on social media, signing up for their newsletters is a good way to stay up-to-date on the latest promotions.
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