Now that travel is back, many of you might be rushing to have your long-awaited vacation! And there's nothing wrong with pre-planning your ticket flights this early too. While many might think it’s a little farfetched to daydream about an overseas retreat this early, getting a head start on planning your trip might help in some cases (hint hint). So, whether you need a refresher, or you're clueless about what's changed for travel after two years, here are some hacks you should know before boarding your flight! ?
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1. Use sites like Google Flights, Skyscanner and more to find the cheapest dates to fly
There are many search engines out there such as Google Flights, Skyscanner and more which help you choose the cheapest destination and dates to fly. Moreover, these search engines offer open-ended searches based on criteria other than the destination; for instance, you may want to search for flights within a range of times and a budget with no destination in mind. You will then be offered various destinations based on your options! Do note though, that when you are searching for a roundtrip flight, search engines by default show you return options from the same airline, even though there may be a cheaper flight offered by a different airline, so make sure you do your full research before making your payment ?
2. Use VPN
Sometimes a ticket purchased from within a foreign country costs less than the same airfare back home. That’s because airlines price their flights based on competitive factors in local markets, including the wealth of consumers and their willingness to fly.
Airline search engines can tell where you reside based on your computer’s Internet Protocol or I.P. address. You can hide that address by subscribing to a VPN or Virtual Private Network, which allows you to search anonymously. While many VPNs require a subscription, you’re not required to sign up for a long-term contract, and they don't usually cost too much; about US3 per month ?
3. Consider flying from a different, nearby airport
Before the pandemic, my family usually choose to travel from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for long-haul flights. While we do have to stop over at KLIA for a few hours, the overall cost is much cheaper compared to taking a direct flight from Changi Airport ?
4. Change your currency and location on the flight search engine to the departing flight's country
This may not work 100% of the time, but if you do change them to the departing flight's country, you could see a price decrease, especially for lower-income countries. Just make sure your card doesn’t hit you with high foreign transaction fees – otherwise, you may not save much compared to the ticket offered in your currency! ?
5. Always book flights at least four months (or earlier) before
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it still holds true, pandemic or not! For long-haul destinations, it's best to book even earlier, i.e 8 months prior! With more countries reducing restrictions on the number of flights arriving, you can expect prices to jump even higher than before! ?
6. Book a red-eye flight
Because of their obscure flight times, red-eye flights are usually less in-demand. Therefore, airlines offer red-eye flight tickets at a cheaper price to entice passengers to book flights during these off-peak hours. Red-eye flights are a better option for long-haul flights; you'll reach your destination refreshed and energized! ?
7. Take note of your airline's policies
If there's one thing the pandemic taught us, it's that anything can change with a snap of a finger (no Thanos reference intended ?). Always read through your airline's policies and processes on cancellation, hidden fees, travel insurance options (something you should start having whenever you travel), and others. Find one that is suited to your own needs as a traveller!
8. You can try hidden city ticketing, but be warned of the risks
Hidden city ticketing means finding cheaper nonstop tickets by booking a connecting flight to a final destination beyond yours, but ending your journey at a layover point: flying from Singapore to Los Angeles via Japan's Narita Airport, then, on the return leg, choosing to get off at Narita Airport instead of continuing the journey back to Singapore. The reason why it's cheaper is that convenient, direct flights are always in higher demand than routes with stops and usually have much lesser competition, so airlines price them higher.
A hidden city ticket can be helpful when you need to book a last-minute flight. Prices rise drastically in the last few weeks before a flight and a hidden city ticket can be significantly cheaper than a standard flight.
However, there are some things you should take note of. Firstly, you cannot skip ANY leg of your booked itinerary because the airline will proceed to cancel the rest of the trip if you do so. So you must start the journey at the original departure airport (e.g. LAX airport) and should only skip a flight when you do not expect to take the rest of the journey. Secondly, if you do check-in bags, there's a high chance they might end up at the final destination. Plus if the plane you're on is the same one continuing to the final destination, you may not even be let off the plane at the stopover, the place that you actually want to get to. So to conclude, I suggest you don't try this method at all unless you're prepared to deal with any unforeseen circumstances ?
P.S. Why not try something less stress-inducing and risky, like hacker fares? Hackers fares are when you book a one-way trip with one airline, and then a one-way trip back from another airline, for an overall cheaper roundtrip fare! One website you can try is Kayak.
9. Book an open-jaw, multi-city or one-way trip
International one-way flights used to be more expensive. While that’s still mostly the case with full-service legacy airlines, an increasing number of budget carriers offer more flexibility without a premium cost. On these carriers, a one-way ticket is generally half the cost of a roundtrip, so if you’re travelling long-term or unsure of your plans, you aren’t penalized with a higher-priced ticket for a one-way! ?
Additionally, there are options for open-jaw flights (a flight where a passenger flies from one city to another but returns to the original city from a different place) or flights with multi-day layovers that allow you more freedom to create a non-traditional flight itinerary without a larger increase in cost.
10. Make sure your flight is value for money
In the rush of finding cheaper flights to your destination, you might overlook other important factors that result in the complete opposite: adding more cost! For instance, budget airlines are often more delayed, charge a lot of hidden fees, have poorer service, and often fly into airports that are further away from the city centre, making it more costly to get to your destination. Moreover, sometimes spending a little more on your flight might save you additional hassle and stress on your vacation. For example, a friend of mine once booked a flight from Japan to Singapore via KLIA at a superbly good deal, or so she thought. She brushed over the length of her layover at KLIA; she only gave it a proper look hours after she booked and realised she had a 9-hour layover in KLIA before boarding the plane back home! The thing is, she could have driven back home from KLIA twice, and the plane would have finally arrived ?
11. Be flexible about your travel dates
Sometimes, the date that you want may not offer you the best prices; it could be the next day, the next week or even two months from then. Unless you're travelling for a business trip or any emergency, be more flexible about your dates! One way to do this is to set price alerts sent directly to your email for flights within the range of dates you plan to travel on. You might even get a cheaper price for the exact same destination! ?
Travelling doesn't have to be so expensive; just remember a few of these for you to score the best deals! If you have any other tricks to share with us, feel free to do so via our social media accounts! ?
12. Travel on a Thursday
This may sound strange but catching a flight on a Thursday might actually work out for you when saving some money on flight tickets! According to Expedia’s findings in 2022, Airlines Reporting Corporation suggests you start your travel on a Thursday. Additionally, Channel News Asia notes that by doing so, you can save up to 25! ? Travelling between Tuesday and Thursday can be the cheapest and best time. While weekends between Friday and Saturday can get quite expensive.
13. Clear your browsing data
Before searching for a flight, make sure you empty your cache and browsing history. If you’re using Chrome for example, go to your browser settings and scroll down to the privacy settings where you can find a tab that says ‘Clear browsing data’ along with cache, history and others.
The main reason for doing this is that some Airlines that are tech-savvy may be able to look into your browsing history and recommend tickets based on the things you’ve search for before. To avoid expensive tickets popping up for you, you should start from a clean slate right? ?
P.S. Need some travel inspiration or more hacks? We got you covered with these articles!
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