The Airwander website, which is set for its post-Covid relaunch in fall this year, is a good option if you are looking at multi-city travel or want to add unexpected destinations at nil or negligible cost. Airwander throws up stopover options for your route, along with the estimated cost, when you provide your departure and destination points, and the days you can spend at stopovers. What this means is that you can visit additional cities or cities at a fraction or negligible cost as far as flights are concerned. So, if you are traveling from Delhi to New York, you could take a two-day break at Helsinki and a three-day break at Stockholm, which show up as stopovers, without adding much to your original travel cost
2. LAYOVER FLIGHTS
Now people think that flights with layovers are cheaper than the direct ones, but this does not apply to flights across the board. It’s typically true for long-haul flights, where you can cut rates by almost half if you pick ones with layovers or even stopovers. For instance, the cheapest direct, one-way flight from Delhi to New York, for 25 July, costs Rs.1,33,251 (on Skyscanner), while the cheapest flight with one stop is available for as low as Rs.75,334. On the other hand, short duration direct flights are typically less expensive than the ones with stops, especially within India. For instance, the cheapest Delhi-Bangkok direct, one-way flight is for Rs.10,980, compared with a flight with one layover that costs Rs.11,482, and those with two or more stops start from Rs.32,218 per person.
3. INDIVIDUAL FLIGHT TICKETS
When you take a family or group vacation, it’s more convenient to book multiple tickets than a single transaction. However, you will get a lower flight rate if you book individual tickets because airlines show the highest price for group bookings. For instance, the one-way fare for a Delhi-Bali flight for a single person in economy class for 25 July is Rs.11,804 on Skyscanner, but for three people the price per person would be Rs.12,238.
It’s a controversial, but perfectly legal, trick used by the air fare search engine, Skiplagged, to cut down your flight costs drastically. Instead of booking a flight from point A to point B, the website helps you find routes from point A to point C, with your destination, point B, as a layover/stopover. So you disembark at point B without completing the last leg of your journey. The reason your fares are slashed is that flights with layovers, especially for long-haul flights, cost much less than direct flights. However, there are some catches to this option. You will not be able to carry checked-in luggage as it will reach the final destination, and you can also only book a one-way ticket.
5. GOOGLE EXPLORE
If you are planning a foreign vacation, but don’t have a destination in mind and are budget-conscious, check Google Explore (https://www.google.com/travel/explore). It will tell you the flight fares for all the destinations around a given area if you type in your departure point. You can choose a destination with low flight prices. Within a country, too, you can plan a multi-city itinerary by checking which cities offer the lowest flight fares. You don’t necessarily have to book at the displayed rates using Google Flights and can check fares from other comparison sites too. A similar tool is Escape, where you can get the prices of flights to anywhere in the world.
6. OPTIMAL DAY & TIME
Many believe that flight rates are lower on certain days of the week, but there is no such rule. Just check the entire month for fares on the comparison or aggregator sites and pick the date that indicates the lowest fare. When it comes to time, however, there’s a high chance you will get cheaper flights before 8 am or if you book the red-eye flights. For instance, the direct, one-way Delhi-Kolkata IndiGo flight available at 6.05 am comes for Rs.5,052, but at 12.25 pm it’s for Rs.5,596.
7. ALTERNATIVE AIRPORTS
If you are traveling to bigger cities, domestic or international, you are bound to pay a higher air fare if you use the main airport because airlines have to pay more fees to use busier airports. So look for alternative airports around your destination city where the fares are lower. Make sure that this airport is not too far from your destination or you may end up spending a high amount on taxi fare, defeating the entire purpose. Some flight booking portals and aggregators, such as Skyscanner and Cheapflights, offer the option of choosing nearby or alternate airports at reduced costs, so you can check these out.
8. BUDGET OR LOCAL AIRLINES
While traveling abroad, it is a good idea to book inter-city flights with local or budget airlines to bring down your travel costs. Some of these small airlines may not show up on popular search engines and you may have to look for them online before going to their websites and booking, but it will be worth the money saved in travelling. In Turkey, for instance, the best option for inter-city travel is flying to save time and effort, and some of the domestic airlines you could opt for are AnadoluJet, Sun Express, and Corendon among others.
9. MULTIPLE AIRLINE COMBINATIONS
It’s more convenient to book return flight tickets with the same airline, but your best option to slash fares is using an aggregator site that offers multiple airline combinations. For instance, if you were to use Qatar Airways to book a Delhi-London one-way flight with one stop, the cheapest option on Skyscanner would be Rs.25,220 for 25 July. If you booked a return fare using the same airline, the fare would be Rs.1,08,857, but a combination of Air France and KLM would yield a fare of Rs.69,584, which is Rs.39,273 less. You could also book tickets for multiple airlines via Star Alliance or Oneworld global airline alliances by becoming a member of the frequent flyer programs of any of their partner airlines.
10. PAY IN CHEAPER LOCAL CURRENCY
Travel and aggregator sites prefer that you pay in the currency of the country you are booking from or international currency used in the country. But you should try to find if you can pay in currencies that are cheaper if you are visiting countries where the value of rupee is higher. So if you are traveling to Indonesia, Vietnam, Iceland, South Korea, Sri Lanka, or other such countries whose currencies are cheaper than rupees, try paying in their currencies to reduce your costs. The savings in some cases may not be too high, so take into account the foreign currency transaction fee on your credit card to avoid paying the same or higher amount.
11. AGGREGATORS VS AIRLINES
While aggregator sites and search engines are the best choice to book multiple airline flights, in some cases airline websites can offer better bargains. This is because the former usually display inflated fares and also charge a transaction or service fee, which can add to your flight costs, especially if you are traveling as a family or group. On the other hand, with specific airlines you could avail of discounts, special offers, flash sales, frequent flyer program discounts and co-branded credit cards to bring down your costs. If you still prefer an aggregator site, pick one that offers the most flight combinations, lower fares, more filter options and low service charges.
12. TRAVEL CARDS & AIRLINE PROGRAMS
If you are a frequent traveler, it’s a good idea to take co-branded or generic credit cards that offer a good rewards program, or opt for the frequent flyer miles programs of airlines. This allows you to convert your reward points to air miles, thereby reducing your flight costs. Take the Air India
Signature card, which offers 30 reward points for every Rs.100 spent on Air India tickets booked through Airindia.com or Airindia mobile app, or the InterMiles Diners Club card, which offers 16 InterMiles on every Rs.150 spent on flights booked on Flights .intermiles.com, among many others.
13. SOCIAL MEDIA & FARE ALERTS
Opting for alerts is perhaps the easiest way to cut your flight costs. Subscribe to fare alerts on travel booking or airline websites and find out about the drop in prices or special offers to avail of cheaper flights. Similarly, follow the pages of airlines on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to avail of flash sales, discounts and early bird offers to cut your flight costs.
This is among the most well-known secrets for ensuring a lower flight price. Most aggregator or airline sites follow your search patterns through cookies and IP addresses. So if you check a flight price on a particular website and return to it after some time, you are likely to find a higher rate. To avoid this, you can use the incognito mode or delete all cookies after use. In case of Google Chrome, you can click on the three dots at the right hand corner of the screen, and from the dropdown menu, click on ‘New Incognito Window’ to browse in secret.