Believe the rumours and urban myths about getting the cheapest flight prices at your own risk — the airline industry has changed so much in recent years that a lot of the old knowledge is now debunked.
MYTH 1: BOOKING DIRECTLY WITH THE AIRLINES GETS YOU THE BEST FARES
Untrue. Do your research properly, and you might find that it’s cheaper to fly from Sydney to Brisbane for your particular dates with Jetstar and then back with Tiger. Mixing and matching airlines for your trip is a great way to save money.
Booking directly with the airlines means you don’t get the benefit of seeing other carrier’s prices. Using an online comparison tool allows you to see all prices all airlines at once across a number of dates and travel times, so you can get an unbiased overview.
Be sure to order your search results to display via lowest-highest price (rather than ‘best’) and double check the flight durations so you don’t end up with a connecting flight accidentally.
MYTH 2: PURCHASING A ROUND TRIP WILL GET YOU A BETTER PRICE
Not always. This certainly used to be true but these days, most budget airlines sell their one way fares for exactly half the price of the round trip.
The exception is full service airlines like Qantas who still offer a better price on their round trip fares.
MYTH 3: YOU NEED TO CLEAR YOUR WEB BROWSER’S COOKIES TO SEE THE LOWEST FARES
This one’s a solid maybe that’s been kicking around the internet for awhile now.
Many industry experts swear by it, saying airlines and online travel agent sites will drop a cookie when you first search and then begin to put the price up when you return to their page, to make you feel pressured to buy before the fares go any higher.
Others swear there is no evidence for this and it’s just a function of the complicated yield management algorithms run by the airlines. Prices can change minute-to-minute based on factors like past bookings, demand for particular dates, remaining available seats and the probability of selling to capacity later.
It can’t hurt to try clearing your cookies or opening a new incognito browser when you search. Or use a trusted neutral comparison tool like IWantThatFlight.com.au that delivers the real airline prices without mark-up.
MYTH 4: LAST MINUTE FLIGHTS ARE ALWAYS MORE EXPENSIVE
False. The most important part of this myth is understanding that airlines tend to categorise their clientele into two buckets — leisure and business.
The leisure travellers are the ones booking holidays far in advance, while business travellers tend to book last minute and are happy to pay full price, because they’re not the ones footing the bill.
Traditional holiday routes start with fairly high prices for peak season because leisure travellers are usually making their plans early.
Popular business routes tend to be opposite, with prices climbing steeper the closer you get to the travel date.
Which means if you’re willing to make plans last minute, you can often get deals on flights to foreign destinations if the planes aren’t yet full — and an impromptu trip to Bali for a weekend of surfing can suddenly become very affordable.
The key here is flexibility … both on your destination and your travel dates. If you need to go to a particular destination, waiting until the last minute is not a good plan.
MYTH 5: YOU’LL GET THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS BY BOOKING ON A TUESDAY
Sorry, no. For all the reasons listed above, this myth is no longer valid.
It used to be the rumour that airlines would announce their cheap deals on a Monday so booking on a Tuesday was your best bet to nab a good price.
In reality, airlines announce their sale fares at all different days and times.
If you want to stay on top of the best fares, sign up to alerts from the airlines or from deal hunting websites via email and on your social media channels and let the industry guys keep you informed.
Emma Merkas is a writer for I Know The Pilot.
For more travel news and inspiration sign up to Escape’s newsletter.