5 Flight Hacks To Book Cheap Plane Tickets

adventure travel tips, travel tips, how to book cheap plane tickets, booking a flight, tips for booking a flight, booking cheap flights, traveling with your mountain bike, mountain bike trips, mountain bike adventures
October 4th, 2016

Today's Guest Post is from the Flight Delay Claims Team. To view the full article, click HERE - and Get 10 more Flight Hacks!

 


Have you ever been looking for a flight that you’re not quite ready to book, and every time you go back to check the price it gets higher and higher? You’re trying your best to be a savvy money saver. But it seems to be working against you!

People that succeed with travelling on a budget do two things:

1.  They identify booking techniques that get them results.

2. They put 100% of their resources into executing those methods. But you’re probably wondering: “How do I find booking strategies that work?”.   Today I’m going to make it easy for you. If you want to know the best days to book on and fly on or how far in advance to book, you’re in the right place.

Ready? Let’s do this... and start mountain biking around the world, faster... and cheaper.


1. keep your searches top secret for super savings.

Save money in 2 seconds flat. It happens to me all the time; I go to book a flight, find a good price but hesitate. Mostly because I want to have a look at other sites to compare options before I commit.

You’re not crazy for thinking that a flight price has changed after searching it a few times. Based on the cookies in your browser (little bits of data websites can track), flight prices do increase when a particular route is repeatedly searched as the site wants to scare you into booking the trip quickly before prices get even higher. Increasing your urgency to buy, punishing you for trying to get a good deal. In this section, I will teach you how to stop it happening to you.

Why does this happen?

Because some airlines and flight search engines use cookies to track you, and when they realize you are interested in that particular flight they hike up the price for a higher profit.

But what is a cookie?

A cookie is a small file that is downloaded from a site when you visit it. Cookies are typically used to manage items in your shopping cart, personalise your experience by offering relevant content, and track the pages visited over time. Generally speaking, this isn't a big deal. Cookies improve the customer experience on most sites. Prices on most sites are static. They won’t change regardless of how often you check them.

But airfares are different.

How Airlines Abuse Your Search History...

When you search a particular route, the cookie stores the details. It also remembers the dates and number of passengers. What this means is that their server can see if a particular route is in high demand (by you). When something is in demand, the price will increase.

Ticket Warning: The more you search a route, the more the price increases. Don’t let inflated ticket prices keep you from traveling or make you pay over the odds.

need proof? see our little experiment...

just seconds later, using an incognito browser...

That's a massive savings of $93   for only using an incognito browser and not letting the websites see your browsing history!

How you can get around this is by using an incognito browser when searching for flights. This stops the site seeing your cookies, what you have already looked at and searched, so they can’t go “Oooh, this guy KEEPS checking flights to Barbados, he must REALLY want to go…Let’s put the price up because we know how keen he is”.

Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest prices.

If you're using:

  • google chrome or safari

Incognito is enabled by hitting Command (or “Control” if using PC), Shift, “N”. Note: if you’re using an older version of OS X, open Safari then select “Safari” in the menu bar, and select “Private Browsing”.

  • mozilla firefox or internet explorer

Hit Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “P”. This will open a new browser window where your information is not tracked, thus not inflating prices as you search.

Your cookies are reset each time you re-open an incognito window. So if you want to start with a clean slate for each flight search (so your previous searches aren’t “remembered”, potentially inflating costs), close all your incognito windows, open a new one, and then perform your flight search.

 

For even better results, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using incognito mode in your browser still means airlines can track you by IP address, and adjust their pricing accordingly. Using a VPN means you're completely private and incognito.  Here is a good list of VPN services - like almost all software there are free versions, but like all software, you get what you pay for.

2. comparison sites.

Search over 1,000 flight combinations in under 3 minutes to get the best price on the market. With the wonders of the internet, we are all much savvier when it comes to shopping and finding bargains online. Take a look at the rise of Ebay and Amazon.

However:

Different comparison sites search different airlines and have massively different features, so check at least two.

Our Top Pick Flight Comparison Sites For You:

All allow you to search by flight class and include travel brokers, charter airlines, and budget airlines. We argue about what is “the best” comparison site, so here’s our Top 3.

1. kayak - for range, speed and filtering.

It allows you to filter options based on credit/debit card fees and whether or not you want to check in bags so you can compare costs more accurately. It also looks for the cheapest inbound and outbound flights and doesn’t automatically pair both legs with the same airline to maximise savings both ways!

2. skyscanner - for the very cheapest time to fly.

Skyscanner gives you fare options spread over a month to find exactly when’s cheapest. It has particularly strong coverage of budget flights, searching over 1,000 airlines in total. Pretty impressive right?

3. momondo - for flight data.

Momondo is a metadata search engine and works similarly to the likes of Skyscanner. However, its standout feature is the ‘Flight Insight’ data it gives you on some routes. It helps pinpoint when they recommend to book, which day to fly and even which airport’s cheapest for that specific flight.

When you’re ready to book, don’t assume one of these is best and will always come up cheapest – try the other 2 to see if you can beat it.

 

3. timing is crucial.

When looking for cheap flight tickets, timing is crucial. Flights should be booked early. Business folk will pay top dollar at the last minute, so prices soar.
Unless you prefer sticking with the same airline and you’re holding out for a sale you know coming up, it’s usually best to book as early as you can.

The latest research from the comparison site Momondo found it’s best to book 53 days ahead and that booking then is on average 26% cheaper than booking on the day of departure. The last cheap booking date varies by destination, so you can use Momondo’s ‘Flight Insight’ tab on many routes to see the data for the flight you want:

For example:

  •     When we looked at a London-Sydney return, booking 54 days ahead was £122 cheaper.

  •     A flight from London to Lisbon, when booked 52 days in advance, costs on average £209 -compared to the typical price of £287.

  •     Flights from London to Dubai are cheapest 51 days ahead of travel when it will cost £458 – 20% less than the average fare of £551.

However:

Momondo’s figures are based on the prices quoted in their flight searches, and this is an average across all routes so take  ’53 days in advance is the perfect day to book’ info with a pinch of salt, as your course might vary from this. As per our example, London-Sydney it was 54 days (only one day off).

If in doubt, book early.

 

 

4. best day to fly on.

Hack the airline data to find the best days to fly on for mega savings (or just read this).

Knowing precisely when to book a flight to get the cheapest fare is awesome. That magical window where prices are at their lowest.
But which day is it? One flight comparison site, which analysed 7.5 billion airfares on the top 100 routes worldwide, has found the answer.

 

Momondo also published research on the cheapest days and time to fly and found that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and evenings (after 6 pm) are the cheapest time to fly, while Saturdays are the most expensive. If you can be flexible, it’s worth checking prices on different days and at different times to see if you can cut the cost further. Avoid flying on Fridays and Sundays. Most travellers want to leave on a Friday so they can make the most of the weekend, and Sunday is a popular day to return because people need to be at work by Monday. This demand drives up the cost.

Cheaper fares also depend on the time of the flight. Evening departures between 6 pm and midnight are typically cheaper, while Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly. As for the most expensive, fares are at their most costly three days before departure, while Friday is routinely the most expensive day to take to the air. It is also suggested that travellers should avoid afternoon flights if they are looking to save money.

 


“In general, it pays to book flights two months in advance,” says Momondo spokesman Lasse Skole Hansen.

 

5. live like a local.

Forget #livelikealocal – Try #FLYLIKEALOCAL (We saved a whopping 39% and show step by step how you can too).

 

Airfare prices often change minute to minute, so it’s no wonder you can’t understand airline pricing. You're not the only one. But you do now know some plane tickets can rise in price the more you search them, and you’ve learnt how to avoid that. But did you know your price could go up or down depending where you booked your flight? And I’m not talking about which booking site you use.
Depending on where you buy them or, even better, where you appear to buy them from can make dramatic savings.

 


Do you want to see how I leverage foreign currencies and points-of-sale for your advantage? For reasons I never quite understood, every time I tried to book a domestic flight in another country, the prices were always exorbitant. Once I was in Bangkok, that same flight that was once $300 would fall to $30 almost unexplainable. This phenomenon is because a ticket’s point-of-sale, the place where a retail transaction is completed, can affect the price of any flight with an international component.

 

But you’re buying your tickets online?

Most people don’t know there is a simple trick for “changing” your location to get a cheaper flight on an airline’s website; it’s how I managed to pay $373 for a flight from New York to Colombia instead of $550+. You can use it for normal international flights, but it often works best when you’re buying domestic flights in another country or on the return leg from abroad.

The Proof: 

We ran a return journey search from Buenos Aires to Cordoba, the two largest cities in Argentina, for 4th August, returning a week later on the 11th August on Kayak.Unsurprisingly, Kayak sorts the results in order of price. The cheapest flight was on LATAM at £138. In fact, the first 19 results were all with LATAM at £138, with varying times of departure and return on the same days.

 

If we ran the same search in Google-ITA with London, England as the point-of-sale as you can see in the screenshot below.

Google’s ITA Matrix is simply Google’s software for search flights, pretty nice right? The only downside is you cannot book tickets through them. But don’t let that put you off…keep reading to see how it can save you money.

Quickly:

  •     Enter your flight departure and arrival airports.

  •     The dates you wish to fly.

  •     Enter your current city.

  •     Click “Search”


You should then see something like this:

Though Kayak has the best prices, ITA Matrix has confirmed within £5 the best price.
Let’s not stop there. Instead of using our current city as the point-of-sale (London in this case), let’s use Argentina as the point-of-sale (Where the flight will take place). This can only be searched for in Google-ITA Matrix.


So, with the same departure and arrival airports, the same dates, only change the point of sale location.

The main difference is we’ll get the price in Argentine Pesos, and that’s exactly what we want.

In this new search, the cheapest flight on Aero Lineas is AR$1,694 and the cheapest flight on LAN is also AR$1,694. That, of course, means absolutely nothing to most people, so let’s convert that over to British Pounds.

The same and best flight now converts to £83.63 when you book in Argentine Peso’s, the local currency.
While the same flight is £138 when booked in my currency, British Pounds.
In short, you’d be saving £54.37 or $78.87 on the same flight, simply by paying in a different currency.


That’s a whopping 39% discount!

Now the real problem is that we’ve got to find a place to buy this ticket in Argentine Pesos since Google-ITA won’t tell us where to go for that. But in this case, it’s given us two airlines with the same price.

 

I head directly to the Aerolineas website, select location as Argentina, with “Inglés” language.

Pop in the same dates and airports.
Confirm the dates for departure, confirm the dates for the return.

Book it and smile. 

You saved £54.37 ($78.87) on this booking!

Congratulations, you have learnt how to get mega savings successfully by teleporting your location!

 

To save the most money, make sure you pay with a credit or debit card that doesn’t charge you international or travel fees. Even if you don’t have a travel-friendly credit card, it still might be worth it to pay the fees just to pay in pesos. In this case, the standard foreign transaction fee 3% surcharge would only cost you an extra £2.51 to book the flight. (The exact percentage will vary depending on the terms of the card issuer, but in short, you still come out ahead). Even after a foreign transaction fee surcharge I’m still £51.86 better off.


With a little adjustment, this trick can also be used for purchasing international flights. The most obvious points-of-sales to check for generally include the destination country and the country where the airline is based.

You could also use this to book 2 one way flights. Let’s say you want to fly from the US to Hong Kong.
Book the first leg with your location set as the USA, and then switch your location to Hong Kong to book the return leg.

ethnic travel agents

The UK and US are a melting pot of different immigrant and ethnic communities, and this can be used to great advantage for a cheap flight booking. Niche travel agents often specialise in finding deals to those communities’ linked countries.


For example, Shepherd’s Bush in London and the surrounding area has some Caribbean specialist tour agents or buy the Jewish Chronicle, which has firms advertising cheap flights to Israel. You’ve also told us about Chinese travel agent Omega, which has a branch in the London’s Chinatown, as well as Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Don’t forget to check prices elsewhere before you buy to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

 
Best local budget airlines in different regions: 

the united states:

Australia:

Asia

europe:

 

BONUS TIP: SEPARATE YOUR FLIGHTS

 

If your flight itinerary includes 1 or more regional airports, you can often save by booking those flights separately.

 

For instance, on our Patagonia Pedal and Paddle trip in Argentina, the starting point is Bariloche airport. This is a small regional airport that doesn't accept many international flights (except for neighbouring airports such as Santiago, Chile).  

 

If I were booking a flight to Bariloche from Toronto, I could search YYZ->BRC and input the appropriate dates. Doing that search today (for a trip in March) comes up with a price of $1688 CAD, and shows a Toronto->Santiago->Bariloche itinerary.

 

if I enter YYZ->SCL (Santiago, Chile) in Kayak (again, in an incognito browser), I come up with a cost of $967 CAD. Then when I go directly to the LATAM website  (the airline that handles the Santiago->Bariloche portion of the flight) to view the Santiago->Bariloche portion, I find a return flight for $427 CAD. This represents a savings of $294 CAD, for just a few minutes extra work! 

 

I can do the same for the start of my itinerary if I happen to not live near an international airport and need to get a flight to one. For instance, if I live in Grand Junction, Colorado (airport code GJT),  rather than searching for GJT->my destination, I might try looking to see which major airports I can fly to from Grand Junction, then booking that flight separately. For instance, if I need to get to Lima, Peru for the Inca Trail Ride,  then I might try searching for Las Vegas-> Lima, and then booking the Grand Junction -> Las Vegas leg separately.

 

Sometimes it's cheaper to book it all together, but sometimes it can be significantly cheaper to book the legs separately. 

 

Also... try booking two one-way flights (one to your destination, and one coming home) instead of a return flight. This can work especially well if you're planning on staying in an area for an extended time (a month or more).

 

Happy flight hunting!

 

want 10 more flight hacks? click here or HERE!

want tips for traveling with your mountain bike? click here!

learn how to pack your mountain bike for air travel, click here!

 

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