By: James Asquith, CEO and founder of Holiday Swap.
People frequently ask how to find cheap flights and the best ways to use point systems to fly in Business and First class. There are many “myths” about the best time to book your flight, but the truth is it always depends on destination and availability. Searching without cookies tracking your flight searches or booking on a Tuesday does not guarantee you will find the cheapest or best flight. You may find the most affordable option last minute or sometimes months in advance. The best rule of thumb is to do your research! Look at the different routes, airlines, and connections and sure enough, you will find the cheapest option. With that said, here are my top six tips.
- Be Flexible (… and sometimes very flexible). Changing your flight by one day can mean you save yourself as much as 50% of the original ticket price. Don’t just be flexible in terms of date and time, but even destination. If for example, you want to fly from London to Hong Kong, you could perhaps find a Business class fare connecting in nearby Shenzhen for just a few dollars more than economy to Hong Kong direct.
- Connections! Non-direct flights are a great choice if you have the time. Not only can you potentially earn double the air mile rewards, but you can also save hundreds of dollars.
- Mistakes in Marketed Fairs. I recently flew 4 flights in Emirates First Class Suites for just $1,600 due to their mistake. The fair typically costs $12,000, which I could never dream of paying. This surprisingly happens frequently too! How do I find these flights? I use Google’s flight matrix to see when airline pricing algorithms change, and I watch out for cheap fares on different Twitter accounts. I also try not to be too specific about my departure location. For example, on my last flight with Emirates I flew from Dubai to Sri Lanka to then fly in First Class from Sri Lanka to Singapore via Dubai (yes, again). The price was worth it and it gave me the opportunity to test out Emirates First Class seats.
- Air Miles! I use my credit cards to purchase everything to accumulate as many reward points. Some of the welcome rewards you get are substantial enough to pay for a long-haul one-way flight. Personally, I would not use air miles or Amex points to pay for flights in economy. It’s not worth it, particularly if you pay high taxes. Instead, I use my points for premium seats, whether that’s Business or First.
- Five Hour Rule. My rule of thumb is to not pay cash for Business or First Class flights that are less than five hours. Accumulate air miles on shorter flights and use the points for future reward flights. Additionally, many of these flights do not have full Business or First Class seats but instead, they may have a couple more inches for leg room or the middle seat will be blocked out.
- Mix It Up! Mix and match airlines, search for one person (even if you are more), search other currencies, and even try different flight search engines which do tend to dramatically vary in price depending on the airline. A great app to use to see all your options in one go is Momondo!
Now that you have the best tips on finding the most affordable flights, make sure to download the Holiday Swap App and find a place to stay for your next holiday! Stay anywhere in 185 countries for just $1 per night and make great connections around the world. With all the money you are saving on flights and accommodation you can now spend your money on experiences and doing the things you love.
Follow more of James’ travels and adventures on @jamesasquithtravel on Instagram.