This is part 2 of a series of articles on finding Cheaper Airfares. To read part one go here.
Cheaper Airfares Part 2 – The Basics
Sometimes you need patience, sometimes a bit of luck. It helps if you know your geography too. Welcome to the world of the cheap airfare hunter. The thrill of the chase. The feeling of euphoria when occasionally you manage to pay a lot less than everyone else to the same destination. Everyone likes a bargain, right?
I'm based in the UK, but some of the principles here can be applied equally wherever you are in the world. Firstly, get to know your airlines, and spend a bit of time analyzing how their pricing strategies work.
For scheduled airlines, weekend flights often carry a price surcharge, so price up your flights midweek too. The difference can be significant. Charter and low cost airlines are always a mixed bag, and can end up high cost if you need to travel within a few days of departure. Book these airlines as early as you can.
That said, there are also a number of those types of airlines where the opposite applies, particularly in the leisure space. These adopt the principle that the plane is going to go anyway, so they may as well get whatever revenue they can. Not everyone can take the risk of leaving a booking with this type of airline so late. But those who do can be richly rewarded. If it wasn't for the rise of the low cost carrier, I may not have been able to get the majestic sight of Bagan (Myanmar) at sunrise:
Do your research. Be flexible. Have the most useful flight search engines to hand. Some use scheduled flights only, whilst others also search for charter and low cost carriers. If you want to have a look at the most powerful engine of all give ITA Matrix a spin. Search clusters and combinations of airports on multiple dates. Search all airports up to a 2000 mile radius from a fixed location if you want to. The world's your oyster! Here's a picture from the much less visited Everest Base Camp in Tibet:
Checked baggage surcharges on budget airlines are going up all the time. It's often this alone that can ruin a perfectly “low cost” flight. Our second daughter is just about to reach the age of two, the time where you can't have your little cherub sat on your lap anymore and have to buy an extra ticket for them. I can't offer a magic solution for that, but I haven't taken it completely lying down. I'm kitting the four of us out with our own CabinZero bags. That way, at least checked baggage costs won't be something we'll need to worry about!
Click here to read part 3.