Whether it be a long-haul flight to a dream international holiday destination, or a short haul budget domestic flight, choosing the right flight can make all the difference to your overall experience.
Everybody loves a bargain and price is very important, however there are other factors that you should certainly consider:
There are many ways to shop for flights, whether you go through your regular travel agent or book online. With so many airlines on offer, and prices changing as much as 3 times per day, shopping around is essential if you want to get the best price.
- Compare your options - search through a flight comparison booking engine such as Skyscanner, Cheapflights or Webjet. Once you have found the best deal on this site, then go to another comparison site and compare prices.
- Direct airline offers – check on their websites to see if there are any deals or sales.
- Sign up for email alerts & newsletters that offer deals and sales. These are also available on the price comparison sites, and will notify you of price drops.
- If you feel overwhelmed or simply don’t have the time, use a travel agent. They are there to help.
- Frequent flyer program
If you are a regular traveller, you may have a frequent flyer program with preferred airline you like to travel with. Using your points to upgrade your seats is a great idea, however if you’re looking for a low-cost flight, you may want to consider flying with cheaper airlines rather than relying on points systems. If money isn’t an option, go for it! Otherwise, shop around.
- When is the best time to book
Destination flights for those one-off trips, especially internationally, are cheapest about two months out. Wikipedia reports to book 54 days in advance for the best deal, although this may not always be exact!!
Booking too far in advance can limit your options for finding a deal, and most airlines won’t let you book more than 12 months in advance.
Booking as early as possible does however provide peace of mind, but not perhaps the best saving.
- Length of journey and transit times
Weigh up the pros and cons of a well-priced flight, but take into consideration the length of the journey including the time you will be waiting in transit for connecting flights.
You could find the cheapest flight could take you 35 hours vs a flight for an extra $100 which takes just 16 hours!
- Baggage allowance
Budget airlines, mostly domestic, have added extra costs for taking baggage on board. On occasion if you’ve really grabbed a bargain, it can almost double the price you paid!
Airlines have become very strict with baggage allowance, not only weighing your case with exorbitant excess luggage fees, but some also measure the size of your luggage at check-in.
It is always better to investigate luggage allowance, size & weight and what is included in the flight price prior to making your booking.
- Lounge access
If you have more than 2 - 3 hours in transit on a long haul flight, you may want to rest up, re-fuel and freshen up in an airport lounge. Your choice of airline and route you take will certainly make a difference as to whether this is an option or not.
If you are not booked on First or Business Class you can pay to frequent these lounges, which offer unlimited food & beverage options, comfortable quiet seating areas, and bathrooms for a long awaited hot shower and hair wash.
Singapore Changi Airport is fantastic for this, offering a wide variety of lounges. Other International Airports offering nothing at all unless you have paid for Business or First Class. Consider this along with your transit times.
- Leg space & seat sizes
If you're worried about comfort, especially on a long-haul flight, the aircraft TYPE should be part of your selection criteria rather than the airline itself. You can look up the aircraft type on SeatGuru with the flight number you have found.
Skyscanner has produced a guide to economy-class legroom on long-haul flights. Note the range of seat pitch in economy can vary by as much as 17.8cm within the same airline depending on the type of aircraft!
- Choose a good seat
If you are going to reserve your seat in advance, our tips are:
Choose a seat not too close to the toilets, so that you don’t have people queuing around you and using the headrest of your seat to hold on to.
If you want to get up regularly to stretch your legs or visit the bathroom, select an aisle seat so that you are not harassing your neighbours to get up for you all the time.
On short haul flights, if you are in a hurry and have no luggage to collect, try and get a seat closest to the entrance/exit door so that you can depart sooner.
- Fly at the best times
Departing and arriving at your desired times makes all the difference. Consider getting to and from the airport, especially if somebody is dropping or collecting you.
Also consider jet-lag – if you’ve been flying for 24 hours and you arrive at 8am, you’ll have to stay up all day to get back into your circadian rhythm. If you book an 8am flight you may have to get up at 3am! Late night arrivals may also mean you are missing out on half a day of your holiday.
Whether you are planning an International Walking Holiday with interNATIONAL PARKtours, a quick business trip, or a short weekend break in Australia, consider all the above options when booking your flight.