I have spent nights (and days) looking for affordable flight tickets, trying various websites, filters and permutations, all in incognito window of course so that those advertisements on the side bar don’t keep popping up. After a few successful attempts, I’ve learnt there’s no fixed equation to grab that dream deal without any terms and conditions. I’ve also learnt that just being mindful of the following, you can jump in your chair with excitement of saving tons on airfare:
Be flexible – In terms of travel dates, departing airports, time of the day and sometimes, even destination. That’s how my first passport stamp happened. I was looking for cheap flights from Delhi to anywhere, and Kuala Lumpur showed, even before Ladakh or Andamans. Knowing nothing about the country, I quickly Googled the exchange rate, made a mental note of my bank balance and booked it off.
Don’t wait too much – If it’s a planned trip, don’t wait for prices to drop down until last moment. It’s wiser to book the tickets at least 6 weeks in advance, after which the probability of further reduction also reduces. On the contrary, I’ve also seen the lowest rates one day before the travel date but that’s a long shot and not always worth gambling.
Don’t subscribe to e-mail alerts – Keep a check on fluctuations but don’t ever sign up for an e-mail alert to know when the price comes down. Don’t let them know what route(s) you’re looking for and when, or you’ll never be entitled to lower prices. On the other hand, it’s great to sign up for things like regular discounts, overall updates and policy changes.
To refundable or non-refundable – It’s one big dilemma specially when you aren’t sure of your plans. Read all detail and hidden clauses carefully, more so if you’re opting for refundable ticket. I have always chosen the latter but that could also be because most of my plans have been within India and none too uncertain. Always check the cancellation policy and read the rules of refund. Cheapest may not always be comfortable.
Payment mode matters – Some credit and debit cards charge a higher fee than others. Paying online is usually cheaper than paying over the counter. Agents aren’t a preferable mode to book tickets. Do it yourself if you can. A few wallet payment options may have cash-back offers going on. Check them out and make use of it.
Do you have any other secret to score that ‘value-for-money’ seat on a plane? Spill it out in the comments below. The world can do with more such suggestions 😉
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