Travel price comparisons are becoming more popular all the time. Flight search-engines like Kayak, Ebookers, Skyscanner, Checkfelix and recently even Google constantly compete to offer you better ways to get the best flight.
But even if you use the latest search engines, choosing a flight is anything but a walk in the park. Being spoilt for choice often makes it difficult to settle on the best option. Choosing the airline may be easy enough, but that’s just the first of a long list of choices you’ll have to make before getting where you want to go.
What departure and arrival times make the most sense? Which day should I fly? Would I get a better deal booking last-minute or six months in advance? The questions seem endless.
Every airline has its own pricing regimen, and can change radically based on services offered, consumer demand, crude oil prices and a host of other factors. But while many complex elements affect ticket prices, there are a couple rules of thumb that are worth noting.
1. Plan your flight way ahead of time if possible
The first rule of thumb says that the closer that plane gets to takeoff, the more you will pay for the tickets. This is especially true for established business air routes, which enjoy a steady flow of short-notice business travelers willing to pay top dollar, as well as flights to popular vacation spots.
Travel experts recommend that you book high-demand flights four to five months ahead of traveling. The recommended booking period Flights within Europe is one to three months, depending on your destination. One exception to this rule are flights to Africa. Airfare to African destinations often drops considerably shortly ahead of the departure date, and in many cases the savings will be worth the wait.
2. Fly off-season
Depending on your destination, the season can play serious games with airline ticket prices. As a rule, flight prices are noticeably higher during travel high seasons.
3. Compare flight prices for a number of departure and arrival dates
Some flight search engines like Kayak, for example, give you the option of clearly viewing all airline ticket prices for flights across multiple days of the week. If at all possible, try to fly when most people don’t.
Research into long-distance flights indicates that Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly on, both when departing and returning. If you’re flying within Europe, Friday is your best bet for departing flights, while Monday is generally the best choice for returning flights. In any case it’s worth comparing prices across weekdays, as these trends aren’t exactly hard and fast rules.
4. Compare flight departure and arrival hours
The actual departure and arrival times can impact airline prices as much as the day of the week. It pays to be flexible. Here too, supply and demand influence the price.
5. Don’t do all your flight deal hunting on one day
The airline ticket prices you get may vary depending on what day and time you look them up. That’s because flight booking platforms are capable of spontaneously raising ticket prices for flights that generate a lot of user interest.
6. Clear your browser cache before starting your flight search
Some travel booking websites may raise ticket prices based on your Internet use. For example, if you regularly visit the same travel site.
If you’re the techie type, you can go a step further and use an anonymity service like Tor to prevent booking sites from tracking your location.
7. Compare ticket prices across several travel websites
You won’t likely find all available flights on just one travel website. It’s also worth checking out actual airline websites.
8. Check ticket prices on portals outside of Switzerland
Many airlines and travel websites quote higher prices for users in financially strong Switzerland.
9. Consider flying from an airport outside of Switzerland
The biggest requirement here is a willingness on your part to add an extra leg to your journey (a railway trip to Munich, for example).
10. Take advantage of reward miles, including bonus miles
If you find yourself flying with the same airline most of the time, signing up to the airline's frequent flyer program can help you get a more travel for less. Although it can take a lot of flights to accumulate enough reward miles for an award flight, there is little reason not to claim these rewards.
Using a miles reward credit card can enhance miles earning by letting you earn reward miles when you pay for purchases using the card. Using these cards requires caution because they psychologically encourage you to spend more by "rewarding" you for spending. However, if you are disciplined enough to use these credit cards only for purchases which you would normally charge to a credit card already, they can provide a good way to get complimentary flights. You can compare miles credit cards using the interactive credit card comparison.