As anyone who’s ever tried to book a flight knows, it can sometimes feel like a bit of a gamble. One day the fare is one price and then, just a few days later, boom, it rises or falls like a Grimsby tide.
It’s annoying, but unfortunately — believe it or not — there’s very little we (and when I say ‘we’, I mean STA Travel, and all agents) can do about it.
Our Travel Experts are trained to get you the best deal on your flights to suit your budget, so in the spirit of being open, I’ve gone to one of the our most knowledgeable STA Travel fare experts to squeeze the latest advice for bagging the cheapest airfares.
Stick with me, this could save you and your friends hundreds!
Hold on to your hats! Here's some top tips for bagging the cheapest flights out there
Ali Dale is STA Travel UK’s resident flight expert. After four years working in our retail stores, her good work has seen her promoted to Air Product Executive in our London HQ. Coming up, are Ali’s surefire tips to maximising your budget on flights.
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How to save money when booking your next flight
I should probably point out that these tips are by no means the rule; unfortunately the airlines call the shots when it comes to flights, and all we can do is roll with the punches and use our expertise to meld the best deals for you, at that given time. To really keep us on our toes, we offer our famous Price Beat Guarantee, which puts us ahead of the crowd and ensures you always get the best deal on flights, hotels and tours.
Avoid the Weekends
Let’s get straight to the point: in general, Tuesday and Wednesday averages out as the cheapest days to fly.
This is especially true for anyone thinking of flying to the USA. Ali confirms, “Airfares to America carry supplements, so you’ll pay more to travel on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. If you can travel on one of the other weekdays you’ve got a better chance of scoring a lower fare.”
If you're planning on flying to the USA, flying Tuesday or Wednesday could work out a lot cheaper
Be as flexible as possible
Some people can only fly on a certain day, and that’s fine, but if that’s the case you’ll be stuck paying the price of the leftover seats. If you’re lucky, that will be the cheaper seats in the cabin, but if not you could end up paying a lot more.
“If possible try and have a two week window that you can fly within, it means that you’ll have a much better chance of getting a cheaper airfare, as prices can fluctuate quite a bit even within this relatively small window of time” advises Ali.
Visit a store and speak to the experts
Although online search engines will reflect any changes in fares over a selection of dates, it is often better to visit a Travel Expert, as they can access the entire flight system and find you the cheapest fare available, in minutes.
As a former Travel Expert herself, Ali knows a lot about the advantages of booking in a store. “Our Travel Experts often have access to ‘exclusive in-store deals’, which airlines provide as an incentive for agents to book customers onto their airline. These deals aren’t available on the website, and often end up being cheaper than the options that are.”
If you explain your needs, they can often find you the cheapest deal, whether it’s an in-store exclusive, or a fare that’s a lot cheaper, just by pushing your travel dates back a day.
Ask our travel experts about saving money your on flights so you can spend more on fun!
Book as early as you can
Airlines release fares for booking 11 months in advance of the departure date, and what most people don’t realise is that the seats in economy class are divided into different price classes.
The cheapest economy seats sell out first, then the next price class in economy, then the next, and so on until you are left with the most expensive class of economy seat.
There may only be 10 seats available on the entire flight for the cheapest class of economy seat, and if these sell out in the first month they have become available (i.e. 11 months before the actual flight) then you will need to start buying them at the next cost, and once these have gone, the next cost, and so on.
“If you’ve ever started talking to the person next to you in economy, and discovered that they have paid £200 less than you for their seat, then the chances are that they booked really early on and managed to nab the first released class of seat fares.
You can both be sat just one seat apart, but the price difference can be quite huge, which is why I’d always advise booking as early as possible to grab the best deal.” says Ali.
Unfortunately, we can’t predict if an airline will release more of the cheaper class of economy seat later down the line, it’s up to them, and it usually depends on the availability of the flight.
On the flip side, it is possible to bag a promotional price down the line, however the best fares are generally to be had in the initial release 11 months before the flight date.
Keep the cost of your big trip down - BIG time
Break it up, and bag a saving!
This particular tip is the jewel in STA Travel’s metaphorical crown as it’s a tip that can only be created by us – exclusively.
One great way to get the lowest cost airfare on a multi-stop or round the world flight is to break up your ticket into a load of single flights with a host of different airlines.
Ali recommends asking your Travel Expert to create a trip for you, where you take the cheapest fares from each destination to the next.
“For example, you might fly from London to Bangkok with Emirates; then from Bangkok to Sydney with Qantas; then from Sydney to Fiji, and Fiji to LA, with Air Pacific; and then from LA to London with Virgin.
That way, rather than booking your entire trip with one airline, who might work out more expensive on certain parts of the journey than other carriers, you can book the best fare on every leg, and bring the cost of your ticket down dramatically. It takes longer, but is so worth it!”
There you have it. Remember, these are just tips: general learning’s that we’ve gathered from our 33 years in the business. Soak ‘em up, book an appointment, and get planning that trip of a lifetime.