Airfare Hacks: How to Score the Best Deals on Flights

Flying has never been cheaper than it is right now, but an airfare can still put a hole in your budget. How do you make sure you’re getting the best price, and are there any hacks for saving a few dollars?

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Airfare Prices Are Low Right Now

In 2011, an airfare to London cost the equivalent of two week’s salary. In 2016, it was down to five days' worth of work. In 1958 when Frank Sinatra was singing “come fly with me”, 80% of Americans couldn’t afford to take up his offer.

In 2016, there were 3.8 billion air travelers worldwide. By 2035, the number of passengers will double to 7.2 billion.

The Secret to Getting a Good Deal on Flights

Obviously you’ll save plenty if you can travel in low season instead of high season – but who has the luxury to do that? We get school holidays when we get them, and summer in Europe is in, well, summer.

But, if you check out Skyscanner’s ‘best time to book’ tool, you can save money – but it varies from destination to destination. 

A few general rules of thumb:

  • For Sydney to LA, book 4 months out.
  • For Sydney to London, 5 months prior.
  • Brisbane to Bali, book 3 months ahead.
  • Don’t fly on a Friday – the most expensive day. Go Tuesday or Wednesday.

Have a look for secondary airports in destination cities. The main airport is usually in higher demand, but the second airport can be cheaper – think Tullamarine or Avalon in Melbourne.

Use sites such as skiplagged.com to find hidden airfares. There are two types of hidden airfares – 5th freedom flights, and the layover flight.

5th Freedom Flights

International airlines are allowed to carry paying passengers between destinations that are not their home country or the final destination of a flight.

An example: which airlines would you look at for a Sydney to Auckland flight? Qantas, Jetstar, Air New Zealand, Virgin – right?

Emirates flies from Dubai to Auckland – with a stop in Sydney. They have empty seats after half the people get off in Sydney. You won’t find that flight on a booking aggregator, but if you ask Emirates they will sell you a seat – and because they’ve got excess capacity, it’ll probably be at a discount.

Layover Flight

This one’s not strictly by the book, and if you’re caught you could be in trouble. It works well in the US and Europe.

You want to get from Chicago to New York, have a look for flights that go from Chicago to somewhere else via New York. The fare will sometimes be cheaper than the shorter direct flight. When the plane lands in New York, simply get off the flight with your carry-on. But don’t get caught!

How do you save on flights? Share your hacks in the comments below!

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