Thursday, 22 November 2012

How to find cheap flights

by Rob d'Apice
Cheap airfares are a tricky beast. Finding the best deals is certainly an easier task with the advent of many online fare comparison websites, but there are still plenty of insider tricks to finding bargain prices.

Relax, though. We've done the dirty work to find out where the best fares our hiding, and formatted them into 5 simple tips!

1. Compare online

Maybe a little obvious, but your first stop should be online comparison. The best site I've seen is Webjet, although it ain't the prettiest. I always check Adioso - a rocking new internet startup based out of Melbourne. They'll create a pretty graph for your flights that show you the cheapest days to take off.

Don't book through Webjet. They'll add around $30 to your fares. Use it to find the cheapest flights, then book directly through the airlines' websites.

2. Use Jetstar's Price Beat Guarantee

Do you like Tiger prices? Do you also like leaving on time? Great news - you no longer have to choose between the two!

Jetstar offer a Price Beat Guarantee. They'll match the prices of flights with similar fare rules leaving within 1 hour of a Jetstar flight... then beat it by 10%! The best way to find the best domestic fares is to compare all flight options on Webjet, then call Jetstar's dedicated price match hotline - 1300 369 516 - and quote the Tiger prices. This gives you the best value on domestic flights you can find.

Another added benefit? No Credit Card fees when you're using Jetstar's Price Beat Guarantee!

3. Get Your Student Discount

Often, you're likely to find the best possible domestic fares using online comparison. This isn't true for international flights, though: airlines generally offer discounted international fares for students. To access them, you'll need to go through a student travel agent - like STA Travel or Student Flights. Make sure you've done some basic comparison online before you see the travel agent, so that they know what price they need to beat!

4. Avoid Peak Travel times

Fares increase substantially during peak holiday seasons, and there's generally nothing you can do about it. If you have the option, plan you're trip outside of December/January, and avoid major school holiday periods. If you're travelling domestically, avoid Friday nights and Sunday evenings as they are peak times for weekend getaways.

5. Book early

Generally, flights get more pricey as you get closer to date - so make sure you book as soon as possible. Make sure you don't miss out on special prices though - they are generally available 3-9 months before the travel date, so keep your eye out for them.

6. Frequent Flyer? Go Round the World.

The best value you can get from Qantas Frequent Flyer points is a 'Round the World' ticket. They come in at 140,000 points (worth about $1,400), and let you travel around the whole globe. I recently used it to book Sydney > London > Berlin > Madrid > Mexico City > Sydney. Amazing value. This deal isn't well advertised - you'll need to call Qantas to hook it up.

If you're not a frequent flyer, a Round the World ticket can still be great value - check out the deals from STA Travel and Student Flights. They'll let you customise their advertised itineraries. Oneworld also offer Round the World tickets, but the cheapest fares are around $4,900 - farely pricey!

Want a Travel Agent you can trust?

In Sydney? Check out STA Broadway. A good friend of mine, Ally, is the manager there and always manages to find me great deals on international flights. Tell her Prosple sent you!

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