New research into domestic and international flights has found the simplest way to help Aussies save money when booking their next flight.
A study by Australian travel site Kayak scanned more than a billion flights to determine the best time to book and the best time to fly if you don’t want to spend that extra $50 on a flight between Melbourne and Sydney.
Some of the suggestions are to be expected, but others may surprise you, such as the claim London flights are at their cheapest just eight weeks before you depart.
The research even suggests the exact hour you should book for extra savings – unfortunately, it might mean waking up in the middle of the night.
By following these simple guidelines when booking your next trip, Flight Centre Executive General Manager Tom Walley said you could save anywhere from $100 to over $1000.
Travel on a weekday
Travelling on a weekend is a no-no for a couple of reasons, and should be avoided if possible.
“Some airlines put a surcharge on flights departing on the weekend and again on those around public or school holiday travel times,” Mr Walley told The New Daily.
According to Kayak, travellers heading to Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Perth and Brisbane are best-off flying on a weekday, but interestingly, Hamilton Island was cheapest to arrive and depart from on a Saturday, while Adelaide was cheapest on a Sunday.
Thomas Godfrey of consumer advocate group Choice advised avoiding peak business traveller days, such as Sunday nights, Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.
According to all three experts, booking early is generally the way to go.
Kayak recommended booking three months in advance for flights to Sydney, while flights to Hobart were cheapest a whopping five months before and Adelaide trips were cheapest just one month prior.
If you’re heading overseas, Tokyo wins with a recommended eight month wait between booking and flying, while Singapore and London are cheapest a surprising two months before takeoff.
Mr Walley said booking early was the most important piece of advice Flight Centre could offer travellers.
“Airlines tier their pricing and when the cheaper seats sell out, travellers then pay in the next price bracket, with each costing more than the last,” he said.
For international flights, Mr Walley recommends booking “about six to nine months in advance, but as much as 11 months in advance for peak season travel like summer and Christmas.”
But if you have the guts to wait it out, Mr Godfrey said flights are likely to drop drastically in price in the days before departure.
“We watched a Virgin flight from Sydney to Los Angeles drop from $3682 to $2707 in less than three hours (departure was 18 days away),” he said.
Other sneaky tips
If you’re really serious about savings, Kayak claimed booking at 1am is the way to go.
It’s up to you to decide whether the the savings are worth a late night before work.
Choice said clearing your browser’s ‘cookies’ before you book is a crucial step – airlines have been shown to track your searches and charge more for flights they know you’re interested in.
Choice also suggested avoiding unnecessary surcharges by paying through BPay or the POLi system.