Take it from someone who has flown the 13 hour long stint from Seoul in South Korea, to Heathrow in London, sipping on the best quality French wine, served the finest selection of salmon and delighted to be finishing our second five course meal with the yummiest gelati imaginable. Lazing back in my reclining seat, wrapped in my polar fleece blanket, inspecting the complimentary cosmetics set I received and flicking between the endless selection of movies, tv series and endless games of tetris and packman, my partner and I somehow managed to score the unimaginable; a free business class upgrade. And again, five moths later upon returning home to the shores of Australia, we received a complimentary 3 night Fiji holiday in a 5 start resort, all expenses paid, compensation money, a further travel voucher for future flights and business class seats home. Call it luck, but knowing the perks, being considerate and having a little positive karma on your side proves to go a long way. Here’s my tips:
1. Be an Early Bird
My best tip for booking an airline ticket would to be to take advantage of the early bird sales. These usually happen around the end of the year, in advance of the next busy season. Buying a ticket during early bird sales makes it the perfect time to take advantage of cheap tickets with the biggest savings, plus it gives you months of preparation to do your research on your next travel destination.
2. Be Spontaneous
Alternatively, last minute sales are your best option. I have scored extremely cheap tickets days before travelling, as airlines attempt to fill empty unsold seats. Being spontaneous means you can score heavily discounted tickets. Often a number of airlines will compete offering sales at the exact same time. Take advantage of the random mid year sales that last for only hours or days at a time.
3. Be Flexible
Being willing to vary your travel dates is another great tip. Obviously flying over weekends is a purse drainer, with the exception being Sundays, on some particular routes. Rarely are flights discounted over weekend periods. Try to fly mid week if possible and potentially save yourself up to a few hundred dollars per ticket. The same is said for school holiday periods; it’s a definite budget breaker. You will never find discounted tickets, no matter your destination. At the airport listen out for chances to change your flight. Some airlines will reward you for being flexible, giving up your seats and allowing others to fly on a particular day. Just make sure you know the airline will deliver on its promises.
Finding somewhere a little off the main tourist radar can also save you money. Flying to popular destinations, especially at peak times, is an expensive measure. Try somewhere a little less popular, or travel at a less busy time. Travelling to places such as Indonesia and South Africa are always more expensive, no matter your origin.
5. Become a Member
Sign up to airlines to receive their promotional emails. You will gain insight into upcoming sales and holiday deals. Always regularly check websites that give a snap shot of a number of airlines flight prices at a particular time. This gives you a good comparison and ensures you are receiving value for money. Always check with your chosen airline direct, as prices can sometimes be cheaper again. Be aware that buying cheaper tickers through airline partner sites means you may not be able to change your flight and may not receive money back in case of unforseen circumstances. I’m always happy to pay the little extra to save the long- term stress of making flight changes.
At the airport, arrive the three hours early and you may just be rewarded with the luxury of emergency exit seats. Lots of airlines offer them for free although for some budget airlines it is an added expense. Totally worth it, especially for long hauls. These seats usually have larger tvs, more legroom and if you are lucky enough, bonus space with no one in front of you.
7. Use Your Manners:
Be polite to airline workers upon check in. Ask if there is a chance of getting upgraded, especially if the flight is not full, or at least what the best economy seats available are. Sitting near the toilet or in an aisle seat can also prove frustrating, especially for longer flights. Window seats allow you better headrest opportunities against the window as well as the luxury of not being awoken and squished each time a visit to the toilet is necessary for your in-flight neighbours.
8. It’s all about the Carry-on
Loading up your carry-on is another trick. Pack it with precision and fill it with the heavier items to stay under the weigh limit in your checked baggage, as most airlines don’t weigh carry-ons. Rather they are more concerned with the size of it. Know that when flying to the United States there are also size restrictions on checked-in suitcases. Check with your airline. Ladies, be sure a handbag and cabin piece is permitted with budget airlines to avoid a last minute frantic reshuffle upon boarding a plane. Stranger things have happened.
9. Be organised
Knowing where you want to go in advance and waiting until the right flight comes on sale can save you money in the long term. Alternatively, being flexible and choosing a destination based on available cheap sales tickets can also allow you to spend the extra money whilst holidaying. Being spontaneous really can uncover hidden gems and prove to be the most exciting travel options of all.
You gain experience each time you travel to a new destination. Whether you learn to fly direct, book a more expensive ticket the next time, pack your carry-on differently, arrive at the airport earlier or decide to include a stopover, you will learn from both your choices and mistakes and become a more seasoned traveller in the future.