Yes, the time and day can affect your flight cost and it’s a known fact! I’m a backpacker from New Zealand and my partner is from the other side of the world, United Kingdom, so that means I HAVE to search for the absolute cheapest flight otherwise I would be broke for the rest of my life. I wrote this article a year ago but now I have added a few more points and tricks I have learnt that will help you book a really, REALLY cheap flight which is great if you are backpacking around the world!
First tip: Travel midweek if you can. This one is quite obvious as most people will leave after work on Friday and come back Monday so leaving in the middle will give you the cheapest price possible. Not only that but also you may not have as many people going to and from your destination. I prefer midweek flying any day. It seems a little less chaotic! Another great advantage is because you may not have as many people on your flight, means on long haul flights you may be able to spread across seats! Win- win I think!
The second tip is to not be fussy about where and when you’re going. If you really want a budget holiday then why not go with the flow and be a ‘free spirit’. Find the top 3 places it’s cheapest to fly to and take a vote or random pick out of a hat! On Skyscanner you can actually put in the search engine ‘Everywhere’ and it will show you the cheapest to the most expensive places to fly to from your preferred airport. The number of times I have done this is unreal and hey, it makes for a great spontaneous holiday.
Delete your search history/cookies. SOME flight booking websites will save your last searched flight destination, you want to get rid of that ASAP. The website is using tracking cookies which will remember where you have searched for the most frequently and it will then hike the price up! Crazy how smart the internet is aye?
Hide or change your location because it will make it cheaper depending on which country you are looking from. For example, if I look for flight in NZ to the UK and I tell them I am currently in NZ and I want the currency in $ then it will recognize that and the price will go up. I usually look for flights from NZ to the UK under a UK location and then you will find cheap flights! You can use the incognito window on Google Chrome to hide everything, it’s marvellous!
Search and book your flight on a Tuesday or Thursday. In the weekend, the prices hike up because that is when internet traffic is at its most. Prior and after the weekend is when people go through the mid-week ‘I CAN’T DEAL WITH MY JOB ANYMORE, I NEED A HOLIDAY’ crisis, and yes that is a proper diagnosis.
Book early morning or very late at night. Avoid booking at lunch time or when people get home from work. Waiting until 11pm can actually make a difference in your flight price, believe it or not. I have spent a few times staying up until 2am just to get that cheap flight.
Check if it’s cheaper to book through two different airlines rather than just looking at one destination through automatic transfers. If you look into it yourself you can get cheaper prices and you can even opt to have a short wander around the city for the day, or stay for the night and explore a new destination. So, instead of looking NZ to the UK, go NZ to Singapore, and then Singapore to London. You will have to make sure you pick up your luggage and re-check it in but hey, if you have a long layover you can go out and explore Singapore for the day. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Prepare for that loooooong layover. I’m sorry to say but if you want a super cheap flight you may have to wait a while. Some of the cheapest flights I have had included layovers of up to 12 hours. It’s only bad if you have nothing to do or if you have no power outlet. If you are allowed to get out of the airport then do it! It’s the perfect excuse to leave your luggage at the airport and explore a new city. Places like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are fully equipped for layovers. Singapore Changi Airport has a rooftop swimming pool, butterfly garden and a movie theatre. I actually try and look for flights through Singapore purely because of that reason. Be sure to pick the right airports to have a layover in and not the bad ones.(link to article)
Booking six weeks in advance is a popular trick. My holiday to Bali was booked around 6 weeks before we left. It did freak me out a little because prices were hiking up fast and I thought they were never going to go down, but then suddenly the airline had more flights up for grabs! You have to be careful because leaving your trip to book 6 weeks before can be risky. The airline might decide to hike up the prices last minute, but it is known that they put the price down on the 6-week mark if there are still seats left. Please don’t come find and kill me if you miss out on your cheap flight because of this! My partner can be a witness to this as well as he booked a flight the month before he left NZ and paid only $800NZD to the United Kingdom, now that’s cheap!
I hope this helped some of you who are ready to book that long-awaited holiday! Please make sure you have bought travel insurance and if you’re scared about doing a 12-hour layover, I recommend reading this.