In today's fast-paced world, air travel has become a vital component of our lives, yet the rising cost of airline tickets is a growing concern for many. The repercussions of the 2020 pandemic have seen ticket prices surge, even for so-called "low-cost carriers" like Air Asia, which can no longer lay claim to the title.
Nevertheless, don't despair! There are numerous savvy strategies available to help you find those elusive, affordable airfares. I've personally put several of these to the test and can vouch for their effectiveness. So, what are these tips?
In my experience, one of the best avenues to score low-priced tickets is at travel fair events. I once snapped up a return ticket from Jakarta to Seoul for a mere 4 million. While these fairs are held infrequently, once or twice a year by airlines, they are worth the wait.
A prime example is the Garuda Indonesia Travel Fair (GITF). It's a major event held concurrently in various cities and is joined by numerous other airlines such as Singapore Airlines, ANA, and Cathay Pacific.
In response to the pandemic, many travel fairs have transitioned to online platforms, making them more accessible to those far from urban areas and eliminating the need for queues and crowds.
One drawback, however, is that the date flexibility for these bargain tickets can be quite limited. But if your primary goal is affordability, this should pose little concern.
Aside from travel fairs, major discounts on airline tickets can often be found during specific events like airline or travel agent anniversaries.
You'll also find opportunities to save during special calendar dates like 11.11 or 12.12, with online ticketing applications such as Traveloka, Tiket.com, PegiPegi, hosting these events.
Planning ahead can certainly pay off when it comes to airline tickets. Prices are often considerably cheaper when bought six months or more in advance compared to purchasing them a month or two ahead of time.
Once, I secured an Air Asia ticket to Singapore for only Rp 500,000 by buying months ahead. Upon checking the fare a month before my trip, it had skyrocketed to Rp 1.5 million, demonstrating a whopping 3-fold increase!
When it comes to nabbing a cheaper airfare, avoid weekend travel if possible. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays typically offer the most affordable fares, with prices peaking over Saturday and Sunday.
If your travel schedule is flexible, aim for weekday departures and returns. To minimize time off work, consider departing on Thursday or Friday and returning on Monday or Tuesday.
In the airline industry, the terms 'high season' and 'low season' are common. High season corresponds with popular vacation periods like school holidays, Christmas, New Year, and Eid, while the low season aligns with quieter times when fewer people are traveling.
For the cheapest fares, it's advisable to avoid high season dates. It's worth noting that this principle applies to accommodations as well; hotel rates will also spike during these peak times.
Flights scheduled before 7 am and after 9 pm generally offer the cheapest fares. While these times may not be the most convenient, they can lead to substantial savings.
This strategy works best if you live relatively close to the airport. For those residing out of town, the cost savings may be offset by the necessity of an overnight hotel stay.
I once took an early flight from Bali to Bandung, only to regret it due to the ungodly wake-up call. Sometimes, it's worth paying a bit extra for a midday or evening flight.
Airline tickets are typically available for purchase on the airline's official app, as well as through various travel agent apps like Traveloka and Tiket.com.
However, it may surprise you to learn that buying directly from an airline's app often proves to be more economical than using a travel agent's app. Travel agent apps usually charge more due to the inclusion of administrative fees or profit margin fees.
But fear not, this higher cost can often be offset by taking advantage of the multitude of discount vouchers that these apps regularly offer. Furthermore, these apps typically have a loyalty reward system, often in the form of 'coins,' which can be accrued and redeemed to further reduce ticket prices.
Loyalty programs are another excellent strategy for securing more affordable tickets. Many airlines, including Garuda Indonesia, Singapore Airlines, and Air Asia, offer such programs.
By becoming a member, you can earn reward points with each flight. Another perk is the option to sign up for an airline's credit card, which grants you additional points every time you make a purchase.
These points can then be redeemed for various benefits, such as complimentary airline tickets, discounted fares, or even flight class upgrades. Additionally, members often receive exclusive deals and offers.
Personally, I'm a member of Krisflyer, the loyalty program offered by Singapore Airline. I once redeemed my accrued points for two complimentary tickets for a flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. A worthwhile perk indeed!
Apart from airlines, some travel agent apps also offer loyalty programs. These typically provide 'coin' rewards for each transaction made on the app. The more transactions you make, the more 'coins' you earn.
So, there you have it, a compilation of handy tips to secure cheaper or potentially even free airline tickets. These suggestions should prove especially beneficial for those planning their first-ever flight.
If you have additional tips that weren't covered here, we would love to hear them. Feel free to share your insights in the comment section. After all, when it comes to travel, we're all in this journey together.