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Home Aviation Early-bird or last minute – how to secure the best airfare

Early-bird or last minute – how to secure the best airfare


3 min read

It’s not necessarily true that good things come to those who wait…especially when looking for the best airfare.

What is true however is that there’s usually a sweet spot when airlines offer the cheapest airfare for a specific itinerary. The lucky winners are in fact neither the early planner nor the last-minute traveller.

For example, honeymooners will book their flights as much as a year in advance, while business travellers may often book last-minute and willing to spend more on their airfare to secure specific dates. On the flip side, more flexible travellers, booking just a month or two in advance, are not as restricted to specific dates or location and have more room to play with different options.

The rules can also be chopped and changed when booking around peak times, such as Easter, Christmas and New Year.

Finding cheap flights is a gamble and as with any purchase, your travel agent will need to shop around to get the best deal.

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) gives some pointers on how to grab those cheaper fares.

1. Flexibility

As mentioned, getting in early, does not guarantee the cheapest flight. Rather, checking prices regularly is more important.

If you do have some flexibility in your chosen travel timeline, or even if you are not too set on a specific destination, you may just find that you can walk-out with a budget-friendly fare. Airlines can and do release discounted tickets at any time before a flight and prices will also vary between destinations and their peak travel periods. Want to go to Europe in the summer, rather than peak summer? Consider early or late summer and as peak tourist season differ from destination to destination, consider different alternatives.

It is of course also true that you will be able to find cheaper fares if you are willing to travel during “lighter” time periods such as early morning, red-eye flights or flights departing on Saturday afternoons or evenings.

2. Sign-up for email alerts

While there are only a few things more annoying than never-ending promotional emails flooding your Inbox, it may be worth it to sign up for travel agent deals and social media channels.

Any special offers are most likely to be communicated through these channels and if you’re quick you will be able to grab these before anyone else does.

3. Consider alternative airports

While you may live close to a major airport, if possible consider flying from smaller airports, you may just be pleasantly surprised by how much you can save by opting for flights departing from these airports.

4. Purchasing a single airfare

While the thought of buying to single airfares may at first seem a bit odd when it is so much easier to just buy a round-trip fare, when price is a considering factor it may just pay off to do a comparison as it may work out cheaper.

Ask your travel agent to check the price for both types of fare, and remember that booking your flight this way gives you the flexibility to depart or arrive at different airports.

Jeanette Briedenhann
Jeanette Briedenhann
Jeanette Phillips joined the team in 2016. She developed a passion and love for all things-travel related in her role as travel journalist, a position she held for over seven years. A brief exodus into the corporate marketing sphere proved that there is no better industry than the travel industry. Research and writing are two of Jeanette’s greatest passions, but she is always open to new challenges and different ways of doing things.

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