Take The Pain Out Of Booking A Flight
Whether it is a holiday you’ve been planning for ages or a spontaneous getaway, getting the best deal for the flight is the first thing you need to do. In-flight deals and packages differ from airline-to-airline and the tiniest detail could significantly impact your travel itinerary, flying experience and overall cost of your trip.
To make your life easier, here are some things you will need to consider when booking a flight.
Pricing is by far the most important consideration when you purchase your airplane ticket. More often than not, people always go for the cheapest deal. This is pretty obvious, because the cost of your air ticket takes up a significant chunk of your travel expenses.
You can get the best flight ticket deals by doing your homework on ticket comparison websites such as Skyscanner, Wego and Farecompare.
You may also want to make your booking during the weekdays, as fares tend to be highest on the weekend. This is because airline companies know that weekends are the most convenient time for people to think about vacation plans, so they mark-up their prices then.
Deals released earlier in the week would also likely to have been snapped up by the weekend, resulting in fewer tickets available for that specific route. Due to this the price will automatically increase because computer algorithms perceive an increased demand.
Instead of round-trip tickets, sometimes purchasing separate tickets from different airlines will also save you money.
2. Number of stops
Direct flights are generally more expensive than connecting flights. This is a classic airfare scenario that can be boiled down simply to demand versus supply.
For airlines, connecting flights are theoretically cheaper and more reliable because it avoids the risk of a direct route with unreliable demand. This is usually not a problem for popular routes or for flights to major cities, but for routes to less popular destinations, demand can be an issue. Taking a shorter route also means that carriers can use a smaller aircraft and save on fuel.
For a passenger, the demand and supply equation is simply a matter of convenience. Direct flights are shorter overall and less prone to delay or dysfunction. Larger planes are also more comfortable and usually have better amenities.
For some, it is worth coughing up an extra few hundred bucks for better peace of mind, less travel time and a better chance of arriving with all their bags intact, while others choose to make do with cheaper airfare that comes with fewer amenities.
A cost comparison of a round-trip from Kuala Lumpur to New York on June 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015:
Considering the price difference and the number of stops on your itinerary will help you determine whether it is worth paying the price of your ticket.
Sometimes taking a connecting flight may result in a cheaper ticket, but is it worth going through the extra trouble to get to your destination just to save a few bucks? It might be for some people but it might not be for others.
3. Baggage allowance
Airlines continue to implement and change baggage fees, which adds to the overall cost of air travel (those sneaky buggers).The amount of checked baggage that you can take with you free of charge will vary according to the route, class of travel, terms and conditions of ticket.
Both Malaysian Airlines (MAS) and Singapore Airlines (SIA) specify that all adult and child passengers will enjoy 30, 40 and 50kg free baggage allowance respectively for travel on economy, business and first class.
Both airlines also impose similar restrictions for check-in baggage, in which each piece of item or baggage that is checked in must not exceed 32kg for all classes of travel.
If their baggage exceeds the weight restriction, customers will be required to reduce the weight by repacking the baggage into smaller units before they are allowed to check in. This regulation equally applies to transit baggage.
The excess baggage will be charged at the airport at a way higher rate than if you purchase in advance. Therefore, if you don’t think the free baggage allowance is enough, always purchase extra weight in advance to avoid paying through your nose.
This is an important factor to consider, especially if you are planning for a long holiday. Baggage rules differ from airline to airline, so it is important to see whether your chosen airline is fulfilling your needs.
If you are travelling with a significant amount of baggage or you know you’re probably going to come back with more, consider going for a slightly more expensive fare that includes more baggage allowance. It could end up being more cost effective overall.
4. Airline preferences
Life is unfair and so is air travel. Two passengers may pay the same price to fly the same route, but end up with completely different in-flight experiences. Airlines have varying standards of service and your comfort will highly depend on which airline you choose.
Some factors to consider include seat design, which is especially important if you’re going on a long flight. Passengers regularly fight over reclining seats and armrests, so you may want to pick an airline that offers roomier seat designs. Malaysian Airlines and Thai Airways are two airlines that offer more personal space in economy class.
Emirates is known for its world-class in-flight entertainment, while SIA prides itself for its excellent customer service.
The choice you make will obviously depend on your personal preferences and priorities.
5. Flight time
Flight times do affect the overall cost of your airfare. Usually, flights that may reach the destinations at odd times, such as late night, are cheaper than those reaching during peak hours.
The reasons are obvious – more people prefer to fly during the day. Some may find it difficult to catch an early morning flight and end up paying more to not have to wake up at ungodly hours to go to the airport.
First flights are also less likely to be behind schedule. Flying super early allows travelers to squeeze in an extra half-day to a day’s worth of activities at their holiday destination. Plus, you can avoid the extra night’s lodging expense from travelling late in the day at arriving in the evening.
However, depending on your distance from the airport, taking a super early flight could mean you will need to get up at 4am or even earlier. You will also be more likely to get breakfast on the plane, which can get expensive, especially if you are travelling with children.
Airfare usually makes a big dent on your vacation budget and it makes sense to save every possible way. Make sure you consider these options and weigh out their pros and cons when you are planning for your holiday.