Flights are one of the big-ticket items for international holidays – and they’re not much of an investment.
Ideally, you want to get good value when it comes to booking your air travel.
Despite the proliferation of websites that promise to give you the cheapest flights, it’s not always easy to get the most competitive flights.
Here are five tips to help you save money on air travel:
1. Book early
Look for early bird sales, particularly to Europe – try to book six to eight months in advance for the best pricing, says Nicola Fair, director of KNL Travel in Invercargill and a member of NZ Travel Brokers.
At the other end of the scale, if you are a spontaneous traveller it’s always worth keeping an eye out for a bargain on Grab a Seat.
2. Be prepared to wait for a sale
When you have a trip in mind, be ready for those times of year when there will definitely be sales on, Fair says.
Christmas and New Year sales are a yearly occurrence, and in September/October there are often early-bird Europe and USA sales for travel the following year.
3. Be flexible with your dates
Sometimes it’s obvious which dates will be busy: big events, school holidays and Christmas.
At other times, surge pricing can be a combination of reasons.
That’s why Fair recommends you try a few days around your preferred travel date if you can, just to see which date will offer the best pricing.
4. Buy tickets on the airline’s own website
If you’re booking a one-stop return ticket to a well-known destination, your best bet may be to book online.
Use the airline’s own website as often third-party websites will charge you a margin – and if there are delays, having booked direct with the airline makes rescheduling much simpler.
And don’t forget to pay for your luggage when you buy your ticket; adding it at the airport often makes it considerably more expensive.
5. Multiple stops? Talk to an agent
Booking a trip that’s more than a single destination? Talk to an agent.
They will provide you with options that don’t display online.
For example, searches often display only the shortest connection times, or stick with one airline, when there might be cheaper flights with slightly more relaxing connection times and across an alliance of airlines.
“When it comes to multiple destinations, the internet often won’t give you all the options,” Fair says, “and it may be more expensive.”