Booking a flight is always a chore. Why? Because of uncertainty – you can never be completely sure that the ticket you bought was any cheaper than the guy sitting next to you on the flight.
You’re right to feel that way. The truth is that the fare you paid can vary from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars depending on when and how you booked. Kind of makes booking feel a bit like an online roulette table right?
Fortunately, there are ways you can “hack” the system so that you always save more money on your flight ticket.
Here are 5 proven flight booking hacks that the airlines won’t tell you about:
1. Timing Your Flight Purchase
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to booking a flight ticket at the lowest possible price. There are already some “rules” you know – book well in advance and don’t purchase tickets at the last possible minute.
But exactly how many weeks/months should you book in advance?
That depends on the following:
- If you’re traveling to a destination that’s not a mega tourist hotspot, booking at least 2 months in advance is enough to ensure you’ll get a better deal.
- If you’re traveling to a mega tourist hotspot at a peak holiday period (ex. New York in December), you’ll need to book at least 9-12 months in advance.
As for the “best” days to book – Tuesday and Wednesday are considered the cheapest.
2. Booking Flights with Multiple Connections Instead of Nonstop Flights
Most of us book nonstop flights when traveling to faraway destinations. Why not? It’s the most convenient way to travel.
However, if you want to save a bit more money, you’ll need to sacrifice that convenience for the sake of value – and that might mean choosing a flight with multiple connections.
It’s inconvenient, and you’ll need to pay close attention to how close your connecting flights are. But flights with multiple connections can easily save you a few hundred dollars if you’re willing to deal with the “hassle.”
Does this rule always apply? No. There are times when you’ll be lucky enough to find a nonstop flight that’s cheaper.
3. Searching an Airline’s Website for a Cheaper Fare
Each of us has our own “preferred” booking site, whether it’s Expedia.com, Skyscanner.com, or CheapOair.com.
You may have even booked a “good deal” from one of these sites. But before you book again, try checking out the websites of airlines that fly to your destination.
Because some flight booking sites might not include certain airlines on their booking engines, which might be cheaper (ex. a booking site might not include a Scoot flight to Hong Kong that’s cheaper than the other flights shown on the site).
Hey, not every flight booking site is perfect.
So before you book, make sure you check out an airline’s official website to make sure you’re getting the best possible fare.
*The hotly debated issue of “cookies” used by flight booking sites and airlines is something that has been reported on plenty of times. While there’s no real “proof” that sites are raising their prices based on your search habits, it doesn’t hurt to clear your browser before booking a flight.
4. Mixing and Matching Your Airlines
Never assume that a roundtrip flight with one air carrier is going to be cheaper. On the contrary, booking your “round-trip” flight with two one-way tickets just might be a cheaper alternative that can save you hundreds.
Some airline aggregators might do the whole “mix and match” for you, but they won’t show every possible combination available.
That’s up to you to find out. So when you book, make sure you try testing out different combinations of one-way flights to and from your destination with different airlines to find a combination that will save you money.
5. Checking the Next Day to See If the Ticket Prices Dropped – Then Cancel and Rebook
Believe it or not, if you book a flight ticket with most airlines, you can cancel your purchase within 24 hours. Why would you want to do that? Because prices might drop the day after you made your purchase.
Airlines regularly change the prices of their tickets up to the day of the flight. So next time you buy a ticket direct from a major airline (ex. Singapore Airlines), make sure you check it a day later (but no more than 24 hours later!) to see if the price has dropped.
If it has, you can cancel your ticket and rebook for the lower price! Just keep in mind that many flight aggregator websites might not have a 24-hour cancellation policy.
Final Note: Before you book, have a good long look at the credit card you’re using to purchase your tickets with. Will your credit card give any great benefits such as air miles, free airport lounge access, or worldwide shopping benefits?
If your credit card offers NONE of the above, it might be time to get yourself a dedicated “travel” credit card. If you’ve not read it already, then you definitely have to check out our article on the best 3 credit cards for frequent flyers.
What other flight booking tips do you know about? Tell us about them here!