When you fly, the person sitting next to you has almost certainly paid a different price for their seat than you did. Follow this 10-step guide to make sure you’re not the sucker.

1. GO INCOGNITO

Start your search on a price comparison website… but make sure you use a private browsing window. These websites track the flights you look at then jack up the prices the next time you visit, so go incognito to make sure you’re always comparing the cheapest fares.

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2. SCAN THE WHOLE MONTH

If you’ve got a bit of flexibility in your itinerary, you’ll be able to save hundreds by choosing a flight on the right day. The flight comparison websites can show you what fares look like over the course of the month and you’ll spot huge differences.

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3. FOLLOW THE SALES

Tiger Air Tuesday, Virgin Australia’s Thursday Happy Hour, Jetstar’s Friday Fare Frenzy – sign up to the airlines’ newsletters and you might just sniff out a serious bargain.

 

4. CONSIDER FLYING ONE-WAY TWICE

If you want to bag the cheapest return fare, it might pay to buy two one-way tickets. A return flight on one airline is not always cheaper than two one-way seats on two different carriers, so shop around to make sure you don’t pay more than you should.

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5. AVOID FLYING ON WEEKENDS

Dodging the crowds that clog airports on Friday and Sunday evenings isn’t just good for your stress levels, it’s good for your bank account, too. Prices soar higher than an A380 on weekends so jet off on Tuesday and Wednesday if you can.

 

6. SET FLIGHT ALERTS

There’s no shortage of websites and apps that promise to ping your phone with a notification when the flight you’re looking for hits rock bottom, but Hopper is probably the pick of the bunch, predicting the future price of a flight by analysing billions of fares every day.

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7. BOOK TWO MONTHS OUT

Someone with too much time on their hands has crunched the numbers on more than four million flights to figure out that the ideal time to book a flight is 54 days before departure, or a little further out for longer journeys. Pencil that in your diary.

 

8. DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON THE LOW-COST CARRIERS

Budget travellers love budget airlines… so long as the cost of adding meals, entertainment and baggage doesn’t blow the budget. The cut-price base fare is perfect if you’re only carrying a small bag, pre-packed your lunch and aren’t fussy about watching a movie on the flight, but additional charges can stack up.

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9. BE WARY OF HIDDEN CHARGES

When a website’s deal appears too good to be true, it probably is – flight comparison websites and online travel agents often display a rock-bottom price then sting you with hidden fees and charges that leave you forking out just as much as you would have to book directly through the airline.

 

10. BOOK DIRECT THROUGH THE AIRLINE

And price isn’t the only reason why it’s smart to avoid those third-party websites. Booking direct guarantees better customer service in the event of a change or cancellation, and allows you to take advantage of loyalty programs like frequent flyer points.


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