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Cheap Flights: An ultimate guide to finding discount airfares
Planning a trip? Fantastic. There are few things in life more exciting than jet-setting across the country or around the world.
We often end up spending much more than intended on flights, which then eats away the extra cash that could have been spent on activities, experiences, and eating out in our final destination.
It’s not just the airfare itself that can be expensive – baggage and cancellation fees can put a real dampener on your travel experience. In fact, Australia’s four largest airports (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth) made $48 million from fees in 20171 – almost double the 2010 figure.
To help you save money on flights, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help find cheap airfares. In this article, we’ll share our top tips for snagging excellent discounts, including when to book, where to book, and how to stay up-to-date with fluctuating rates.
Prioritise the fare, not the destination
A little spontaneity never hurt. Unless you’ve got your heart set on a particular destination, let your budgeted airfare price dictate your holiday plans. It can be exciting to set a budget and select a destination that falls within that budget.
You’ll find a number of online tools, such as Kayak’s explore tool2, that lets you name your price and choose a destination based on the airfare.
Leave it until the last minute
Airlines tend to slash prices if they are left with half-filled planes a week or so before a scheduled flight. If it’s a weekend away you’re planning, check on a Tuesday morning – this tends to be when airlines cut their rates for the upcoming weekend.
Get social with airlines
Social media advertising has become a powerful tool for businesses to target relevant audiences3. Airlines, too, are experimenting with social media advertising to promote discounted fares, some of which are exclusive to social media users. So, get social with your preferred airlines on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Be an early flyer
The early bird gets the worm, right? The first flight of the morning is typically the cheapest. Take advantage of this.
Don’t set and forget
When it comes to airfares, never set and forget. After you book your tickets, check back the following day. If the prices have dropped in this time, give the airline a call and see what they can do. You may be able to cancel your tickets and rebook at the cheaper rate.
Mix and match airlines
If you really want the best possible rate, try mixing and matching airlines with one-way tickets. For example, your ticket to a destination might be cheaper with Airline A, but your ticket home might be cheaper with Airline B.
Leave on Tuesday or Wednesday
While there are no universal rules for cheap flights on specific days of the week, leaving on a Tuesday or Wednesday may be your best bet4. Typically, flights on Wednesdays can have the greatest number of spare seats, meaning the airline might choose to release remaining seats at a cheaper rate to attract passengers.
Sign up for frequent flyer points
It pays to sign up for frequent flyer points with your preferred airline, especially if you travel often. Some airlines even offer credit cards that deliver additional benefits and rewards. Similarly, many non-airline credit cards offer rewards – find out whether or not these can be redeemed for flight miles.
Be flexible with dates
Travelling before and after peak times can help you save some serious cash. If you can, take an extra day or two off work and extend your trip. You may find that flying just outside of peak time can help you secure a much cheaper airfare.
Don’t be afraid of small carriers
While flying with the biggest names in airlines may feel like your safest option, it isn’t always the cheapest. Smaller carriers often offer discounted airfares for a comparable route.
Sign up for price-drop alerts
A number of websites will send you free alerts when a particular route drops in price, allowing you to keep track of fluctuating rates in real-time. AirfareWatchdog.com is a popular option5.
Book flights with stopovers
If you’re up for it, booking connecting flights is often the cheapest option. Of course, flying direct will usually result in a much faster journey, but you will pay a premium.
Keep an eye on your stopover time – ensure you’ve got ample wiggle room in case one of your flights are delayed. Delays and cancellations are sometimes covered by travel insurance policies, so read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and make sure you secure a policy that suits your journey.
Ready to fly? Compare travel insurance policies with iSelect
Once you’ve secured your flights, an option to consider is travel insurance. Travel insurance can safeguard some of your money, belongings, and health while travelling. It can offer peace of mind for a safe and enjoyable holiday or business trip for solo travellers, groups, couples, and families alike.
If you’re on a budget or not sure what you need, compare travel insurance policies with iSelect from our range of providers and plans today. Simply compare online, and you can select a level of cover that suits you.
Ensure you review the relevent Product Disclosure Statement for any policy you consider for details on policy inclusions, limitations and exclusions.
*iSelect does not compare all travel insurers or policies in the market. Travel insurance is only available through our website and not all policies are available at all times or in all areas. Not all policies made available from our partners are compared by iSelect and due to commercial arrangements and customer circumstances not all policies compared by iSelect will be available to all customers. Click here to view iSelect’s range of providers.
iSelect General Pty Limited ABN 90 131 798 126, AFS Licence Number: 334115. Any advice provided by iSelect is of a general nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You need to consider the appropriateness of any information or general advice iSelect gives you, having regard to your personal situation, before acting on iSelect’s advice or purchasing any policy. You should consider iSelect’s Financial Services Guide which provides information about our services and your rights as a client of iSelect. iSelect receives commission for each policy sold.