Unless you’re obsessed with travel hacking, the secrets of finding cheap plane tickets will elude you.
But, if you know when, where, how, and what to look for though, the hunt for a flight deal can be pretty hassle-free.
So we thought we’d do the hard work for you and scour the world wide web for the best tips you can apply to the art of flight hacking.
1. Clear your cookies
Airlines and search engines have unbeatable memories. The more you refresh the page, the higher the price gets. Airlines tend to drive flight prices up when they know that you’re looking at a particular route. You can also use Google Incognito or a private browser if you’re tired of clearing your cache.
2. Use the right flight search engines
As most metasearch engines now take cuts from airlines for selling tickets, the prices are often inflated. We recommend you start with Google Flights
(for a quick price comparison, it’s the fastest) and then move on to ITA Matrix
, and JetRadar
. Not all search engines include budget airlines though, so you should always check the airline’s website to see if you can get a better price.
3. Create price alerts
Most flight search engines have price trackers and will alert you (if you ask for it) if the price on a particular route you’re watching drops. Kayak
also has an indicator which tells you whether they think the price is likely to drop or increase. To get the cheapest flight tickets, you'll have to always be on your toes.
4. Be flexible with your dates
If you just want to score the cheapest ticket to your destination, go to Skyscanner and look for the Cheapest Month option instead of keying in specific dates in the Depart and Return fields. And it’ll automatically show you the cheapest time of the year you can travel. Besides, this is a cheaper way for you to plan a holiday.
5. Take me anywhere
If you don’t care where you fly to as long as you’re flying, you can find yourself on some destinations you’d never travel to otherwise. Use Google Flight’s Explore Map feature to get a view of the cheapest destinations to fly to. Kayak, Kiwi, Skyscanner, Momondo, and WhichBudget have similar features.
6. Consider alternative departure points
If you're like us who would rather take the long way home than to pay toll, there's a similar strategy you can use when you want to purchase your flight ticket. If a ticket from KL to London is priced at US$674 (RM2,901.23), it might be cheaper to fly to Paris for US$469 (RM2,018.81) and take a bus for US$15 (RM65) across the channel. Sure, this might sound like a lot of work, but saving nearly RM1,000 in shopping money is well worth it, don't you think?
7. Act quickly
Members’ preview sales and free seat sales. If you’re obsessed with scoring free seats, you’ll probably know about AirAsia’s annual Free Seats Sale by now. Here's a pro tip: Go in with a destination in mind, search and book quickly. Best if you’re not fussy with dates.
8. Be best buds with budget airlines
Subscribe to airlines’ newsletters and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Some airlines will announce flash sales on their Twitter and Facebook pages, so if you're constantly stalking their social media pages, you might find yourself a steal or two. In Europe, budget airlines can get pretty competitive with their fares. In fact, Ryanair’s flash sale fares have gone as low as 10 Euros (RM48).
9. Fly during non-peak periods and days
You know when the holidays are, so travel on dates unpopular with others. You know that others will be taking advantage of Chinese New Year, Christmas, and the Raya holidays, so avoid travelling on those dates. It’s also best to fly out midweek instead of weekends. According to Kiwi’s search engine at the time of writing, 1-way KL-Paris flights on all Wednesdays in July 2017 are under RM 1,700, whereas flights departing on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in July 2017 are at least RM 1,923.
10. Use your airline miles to redeem flights
You can earn points in so many ways; from shopping for groceries to signing up for a credit card and even, just by paying your PTPTN loan. When you earn 5,000 YouGov survey points, you can convert them to 2,500 AirAsia BIG points. Some airlines will even allow members of their loyalty programmes to transfer miles to a family member or a friend. So, if you’ve got a good friend or a relative who has some miles to spare, you’re in luck!
11. Spot the mistake
Sometimes, airlines post prices that are too good to be true. These super cheap fares could be the result of a technical glitch or human error. A roundtrip ticket from Bangkok to Johannesburg for US$445 (RM1,915) as opposed to the usual fare of US$900 (RM3,874)? But who has the time to search airlines’ websites every single day just to spot a typo, right? Thankfully, Secret Flying
and Scott’s Cheap Flights
comb airlines’ websites daily and post the deals for us. If you’re really fluent in flyer language, head to FlyerTalk’s Mileage Forum. Frequent travellers will post the deals they spot in the threads there.