Trying to find a cheaper flight for your holiday? Experts share tips (2023)

SINGAPORE: After a lack of travel opportunities for more than two years, holidaymakers are making plans with renewed zeal as COVID-19 border restrictions in Singapore and the region are being eased.

Passenger volumes at Changi Airport, for instance, have rebounded, hitting nearly 40 per cent of 2019 levels in the month of April. This figure is expected to increase in the coming months.

But what has also risen beyond pre-pandemic levels is the price of an air ticket.

A confluence of factors, from soaring demand to rising oil prices, hasseen airfares taking to the skies in recent months, making long-anticipated vacations a financial challenge for consumers who are already feeling the squeeze of rising costs on other fronts.

With flight prices expected to remain elevated for a while more, we asked the experts for travel hacks to help you stretch your holiday budget.

Why are airfares getting more expensive?

A “very strong” demand from travellers, either to satisfy their wanderlust or be reunited with family and friends overseas, is one of the key factors driving up air ticket prices.

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“This summer, we've seen average trip length increase significantly versus 2019. Lots of people have accumulated leave and savings that they are now burning,” said Mr Ross Veitch, CEO and co-founder of online travel marketplace Wego.

It is worth noting that this boom in demand is coming at a time when most airlines have not gone back to pre-pandemic operations.

With reduced frequency on routes and the use of smaller planes, supply of seats remains constrained, said Assistant Professor Terence Fan, a transport specialist from the Singapore Management University.

Airlines may also be facing difficulties with re-hiring and re-certifying their flight crew after having downsized during the pandemic, Mr Veitch said.

Then, there is the factor of soaring oil prices brought about by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has raised the fuel bills of airlines.

At a recent media briefing, Singapore Airlines said flight prices are a function of supply and demand.

With flights being “quite booked up for many sectors” in at least the next two months or so, airfares have risen. Beyond that, prices are expected to “come back down”, said the national carrier’s commercial executive vice-president Lee Lik Hsin.

Industry observers expect flight prices to stay elevated for a while more, as airlines remain wary about the outlook ahead and are hence cautious about adding capacity.

But once that happens, alongside the moderation of current pent-up demand, airfares should come off their highs.

“Airline capacity will continue to ramp up between now and the end of 2022, by which time we expect most airlines to be running networks similar to pre-pandemic,” said Mr Veitch. “That extra supply will ease pressure on prices to some extent.”

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1. BOOK YOUR FLIGHT AT LEAST THREE MONTHS AHEAD

New normal or not, it remains the case that if you want a cheap (or cheaper) air ticket, you have to plan early as prices can fluctuate very quickly nearer to the take-off date.

“As a general rule of thumb, planning around three to six months in advance would be a safe bet. This will allow travellers to secure the best deals and plan ahead,” said Ms Sarah Wan, the Singapore general manager of online travel booking platform Klook.

People are already doing so, she added, noting that Klook’s users have been planning their trips at least two months in advance, a “slight increase in terms of booking window” than before the pandemic.

2. AVOID PEAK PERIODS

The other rule of thumb is to steer clear of peak seasons, such as school holidays and festive seasons, so as to avoid a surge in prices and limited availability of good flight deals, said lifestyle app Traveloka’s president Caesar Indra.

Expedia, which partnered the Airlines Reporting Corporation for a 2022 travel booking guide, reckoned that huge savings can also be reaped if travellers choose the “right month” to travel.

And the most ideal month to travel is apparently August, when travellers can save almost 40 per cent on international flights, it said.

3. BOOK YOUR FLIGHT ON A WEEKEND

The day also matters when it comes to stretching your dollar.

Sunday is the cheapest day to make flight bookings, according to Expedia, as tickets are close to 20 per cent cheaper than Friday – the most expensive day.

4. START YOUR HOLIDAY ON A THURSDAY

Meanwhile, Thursdays are the best day to start one’s holiday.

Doing so can help you to save up to 25 per cent, compared to the most expensive day that is Monday, according to Expedia’s travel booking guide.

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5. EXPLORE ALTERNATIVES

Be creative and find other ways to get to a destination, such as by flying into a neighbouring city and following up with a domestic flight or train, suggested Ms Wan.

6. PROMOTIONS, LOYALTY PROGRAMMES

It never hurts to do more research, especially on ongoing promotions. Travel booking platforms like Traveloka hold sales with exclusive deals on flights, accommodations and even holiday activities.

It may also be worth tapping loyalty programmes offered by the likes of Expedia for member prices and exclusive perks.

And don't forget to make use of credit card rewards or airline miles that have been left unused for the past two years, advised Ms Wan.

Meanwhile, opt for flexible travel options to accommodate unforeseen changes and purchase travel insurance as a safety net.

“This way, it helps you maximise your travel budget while keeping you covered from unexpected expenses,” said Expedia’s Asia head of public relations Lavinia Rajaram.

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DO THESE TRAVEL TIPS WORK?

Putting these tips together, it means that it is probably best to book a flight on a Sunday for a trip that departs Singapore on a Thursday in about three months’ time.

CNA decided to put these flight booking hacks to test as this reporter searched for a two-way air ticket to Bali – one of Singaporeans’ favourite travel destinations – from Sep 1, which is a Thursday, to Sep 5.

I also looked for flights departing Singapore on other days that week, as well as travel dates further out into October and November while keeping other variables, such as flight timings and the trip duration, constant. For further comparison, I did the searches on a Friday, supposedly the most expensive day in a week to make bookings, before repeating them on a Sunday.

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My first port of call on Friday (May 27) evening was Singapore Airlines (SIA), which had a price tag of about S$734 for a two-way flight from Sep 1 to Sep 5.

Searching for trips that start on Wednesday (Aug 31) or Friday (Sep 2) threw up even higher airfares of S$820 and more, so it seemed that Thursday was indeed a cheaper day to fly.

With that in mind, I broadened my search into October and November. A round-trip ticket from Oct 6 to Oct 10 was going at almostS$730, while it cost about S$500 to take the same flights from Nov 3 to Nov 7.

At this juncture, I was a little shocked as these rates were way higher than what an interviewee of mine had paid for her five-day trip to Bali at the end of April. The holiday was quite an “impromptu” one, she told me, so the reservation was made less than a month before and her departure flight was certainly not on a Thursday. She paid S$420 for her air tickets.

So, I moved on to budget carrier Scoot and a third-party travel booking site. On both sites, the Thursday rule did not quite work out.

For example, it was almost S$85 cheaper to fly out to Bali via Scoot on Sep 2, a Friday. Likewise, the booking site also offered cheaper round-trip tickets via Scoot and other budget airlines if I travelled from Sep 2 to Sep 6.

Then to find out if it was really easier to snag cheaper flights on a Sunday, I repeated the searches two days later.

The travel hack worked, at least for SIA. Prices were about S$20 cheaper on most of the travel dates I searched previously. Not much - but hurray!

But the same tip failed for Scoot and the third-party booking site, with airfares little changed on most dates.

One thing remains the same though – flight pricesseem to be trending lower by the end of the year. For instance, a round trip to Bali via Scoot and other budget airlines would cost about S$250 on average in early-November. For SIA, prices ranged from S$335 to S$520 in November.

So perhaps the best tip to snag a reasonably priced air ticket is to start planning for that year-end holiday now?

FAQs

What is the best way to find the cheapest flights? ›

How to Find Cheap Flights in 2022: The Ultimate Guide
  1. Pick your destination and dates based on price.
  2. Use the best flight search sites.
  3. Find the cheapest place to fly with the Google Flights Explore Map.
  4. Be flexible—even by a few days—to save more.
  5. Travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday.
9 Mar 2022

What is the cheapest day to buy airline tickets 2022? ›

Pay attention to the day you choose to fly. In 2022, the cheapest day of the week to fly is Wednesday. Flying on Wednesday will save you $57 per airline ticket versus the most expensive day to travel, which is Sunday. Tuesday follows Wednesday closely, with average savings of $56 versus the most expensive day to fly.

How can I get a large flight discount? ›

Use these 11 tricks to book cheap flight tickets
  1. Be flexible with travel dates. ...
  2. Go for local airlines. ...
  3. Use incognito when searching for flights. ...
  4. If possible, make payment in a currency cheaper than the Indian rupee. ...
  5. Book your flights well in advance. ...
  6. Set fare alerts. ...
  7. Identify the cheapest place to travel.
24 Apr 2018

Do flight prices go down the closer you get? ›

Timing plays an important part. Specifically, plane tickets usually don't get cheaper closer to the departure date. Instead, flights tend to be the most inexpensive when you book between four months and three weeks before your departure date. According to CheapAir.com, you can expect rates to go up after that period.

What is the cheapest day to book a flight? ›

Average domestic airfare price by day
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly domestically.
  • Saturday and Monday flights can help you avoid the Sunday rush.
  • Wednesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest day to fly internationally.
  • Book one to three months in advance.
  • Set a price alert.
3 Jun 2022

At what time flight tickets are cheapest? ›

As per the research, flight tickets are generally cheaper if booked three weeks before departure than tickets booked 6 months ahead.

Do flights actually get cheaper on Tuesdays? ›

But it's not about when you buy airline tickets: It's more about when you actually get on the plane. That means flying on off-peak days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are often much cheaper days to fly. Shifting your departure and return dates by just a day or two can save you hundreds of dollars.

What time do flight prices drop on Tuesday? ›

Tuesday Around Midnight is the Cheapest Time to Book

And midnight later in the week actually gets more expensive. So put the "always book at midnight" myth to bed.

Do flight prices reduce on a Tuesday? ›

The cheapest time to book flights is weekends, according to the report, with Sunday offering savings as big as 36 percent (except in New Zealand, where the report found Tuesdays were the cheapest day to book). The most expensive tickets they found were those booked on Thursdays and Fridays.

Can you call an airline to negotiate price? ›

You can even try bargaining directly with the airline's representative on the toll-free number. Be patient and polite, and ask them about the possibilities of getting the flight at a lower fare.

Do flight upgrades get cheaper closer to flight? ›

The price for premium cabin fares decreases as you get closer to departure. To see your upgrade options, go to your airline's app or website, open your reservation, and click on “Upgrade Options.” You can also take advantage of a last-minute upgrade while checking in on your app or at the airline kiosk.

Can you call an airline for a lower price? ›

If you book flights over the phone, you'll indeed get better airfare rates. Thus, it is preferable to book directly by calling an airline. Passengers generally prefer to book flights with the airline by calling or visiting their official website. That's because it is easy and more convenient to book.

Do flight prices go down at night? ›

It is always a good idea to book a flight at midnight. Yes, during midnight the prices of the flight go down. A trend is that Thursday Midnights are usually a great time for making your reservations for both domestic and international flights.

What day of the week is best to book a flight? ›

Avoid booking on a Friday. The best day of the week to book your airfare is a Sunday when travelers can save 5% on domestic flights and 15% on international flights on average when compared with booking on Friday, according to the report. Don't wait until the last minute.

Do flights go up the more you search? ›

Airlines are not tracking your searches.

Neither is Google Flights – the best search platform for finding good deals on airfare – or most other search engines and online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Hopper and Priceline. Your flight searches aren't being affected by your previous searches.

What is the cheapest month to fly in 2022? ›

Cheapest Days to Fly 2022: Winter
  • Cheapest fares: January 7 to February 28.
  • Cheapest single travel day: January 21.
  • Best days of the week to fly: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, followed by Thursdays.
  • Days to avoid: Prices are higher February 14-17 due to Valentine's Day and President's Day weekends.
13 Dec 2021

Is it cheaper to wait last minute to book a flight? ›

Is it cheaper to book a flight at the last minute? We've said this before, but it's worth repeating at the outset—no, it's really not cheaper to book a flight at the last minute. Yes, last minute travelers used to score the occasional fare so low it might have induced shock, but that's no longer the case.

Which website is best for flight booking? ›

The 12 Best Websites for Booking Flights at the Cheapest Prices [...
  • Book Direct Through the Airline's Website.
  • Momondo.
  • Kayak.
  • Expedia.
  • Priceline.
  • Orbitz.
  • Agoda.
  • Hotwire.
29 Sept 2022

Will airline prices drop in 2022? ›

Plane Ticket Prices Are Getting Cheaper for Fall 2022 - Thrillist.

What time on Tuesday is best to book a flight? ›

According to Peter Greenberg, low airfares appear between Sunday night and Monday night and people have 24 hours in which to buy them. At midnight on Tuesday, all the non purchased discounted fares pop back into the booking systems and that's your sweet spot.

Do airline prices drop on Wednesdays? ›

The day your departure affects prices significantly. Finding the cheapest day to fly usually falls mid week on Wednesdays, but can just as easily fall on any other day of the week based on demand.

What time do flight prices drop on Wednesday? ›

Early morning flights during the week (Monday through Wednesday) are typically cheaper as well. Q: Do airline prices change at midnight? Ans: There is typically a drop in flight prices during the midnight hours, with Thursdays often being a good time to make reservations for both domestic and international travel.

Why is it best to buy flights on Tuesday? ›

We've explained why Tuesday is the best day to shop for airline tickets in the past – because so many airlines release weekly sales early on Tuesday, which then prompts competing airlines to match prices – so Tuesday is a good day to find a lot of deals.

Do airline prices fluctuate during the day? ›

Not only do airfares change often over the life of the fare, it can also change during the day. Factors that can impact these mid-day changes include flight demand, flight availability and external factors like COVID-19 virus and even geopolitics.

Is it cheaper to book holidays last minute? ›

As our research above reveals, the best time to find the cheapest last-minute deals is around five weeks ahead of your trip. If you can, opt to travel early on or late in the break as prices tend to drop at these times.

Is it cheaper to book a flight online or call? ›

To get the cheapest plane ticket, always book online. Even if this means booking a ticket on your phone in the airport parking lot, you'll be better off. Airport ticket prices just aren't less expensive, as people seem to think.

How do you ask for a free upgrade on flights? ›

Know When to Ask

Talk to a gate agent and let them know that you're interested in moving up. "Once onboard there isn't anything we can do as a flight attendant," Kamalani said of her airline. Gate agents will typically have a list of frequent fliers who are first eligible for upgrades.

How do you get free upgrade at airport? ›

Earn airline elite status

The most reliable way of getting upgraded for free is to have elite status on the airline you're flying. Most airlines reward their most frequent flyers with complimentary upgrades on domestic routes.

How do airlines decide who to upgrade? ›

Your frequent flyer status is key

Most people in the industry will agree that your frequent flyer status with a particular airline is one of the most important factors. When faced with picking a Platinum member or a passenger with no status, you can expect that the former will be chosen.

Is it better to book directly with airline or travel agent? ›

When it comes down to it, booking directly through the airline is almost always more convenient. If the price changes after you buy your ticket, many airlines will get you the difference back. Southwest, for example, refunds the difference directly to you or applies it as credit towards future airfare.

How do airlines negotiate prices? ›

BLOG: Tips for Negotiating Discounted Corporate Rates with Airlines & Hotels
  1. Gather traveler data to best identify travel patterns.
  2. Establish Contact – and Make it Personal.
  3. Adding Value to the Supplier Can Sweeten the Pot.
  4. Ask For In-Kind Discounts.
  5. Use a Travel Management Company.

How long before a flight is the best time to buy? ›

In terms of booking airfare, doing so at least three weeks in advance for domestic trips is your best bet, Hopper says, noting that prices tend to spike by about a quarter two weeks out, and by another 30% in the final week.

Is it better to book flights late or early? ›

When searching for a long-haul flight, booking in advance is a pretty good idea. Broadly speaking, buying tickets somewhere between 8 months and 6 weeks in advance gets you the lowest prices - but more detail on that soon.

Does it matter what day you search for flights? ›

“Flight prices depend on complex algorithms, and the day of the week is not one of the factors.” What still matters is the day of the week you're actually looking to fly and how far in advance you book the ticket, says Oliverez.

Do flight prices go up on Sundays? ›

2) Weekends are cheaper booking days than weekdays. This is the truly surprising takeaway from the study. According to ARC data, the average price of a domestic flight purchased on a Sunday was $432, and it was slightly higher on Saturday, at $437.

What day of the week is best to book a flight 2022? ›

Avoid booking on a Friday. The best day of the week to book your airfare is a Sunday when travelers can save 5% on domestic flights and 15% on international flights on average when compared with booking on Friday, according to the report. Don't wait until the last minute.

Will plane ticket prices go down in 2022? ›

Plane Ticket Prices Are Getting Cheaper for Fall 2022 - Thrillist.

When should I buy 2022 airline tickets? ›

“The general rule of thumb,” says Berg, “is to buy at least three weeks [or about 27 days] in advance for domestic trips. Prices spike in the two weeks leading up to a flight's departure, rising 25% two weeks out and another 30% in the final week.” For international trips, you'll want to start planning even earlier.

Will airline flight prices go down in 2022? ›

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index, airfare prices recently hit their largest one-month jump in history – climbing 18.6% from March to April 2022. Since then, prices don't seem to be going down, either.

What is the best way to buy airline tickets? ›

More often than not, booking directly through the airline's website will give you the best price, or will at least be the same as the OTAs. Some airlines, like Southwest, won't even show up on sites like Expedia or Orbitz, so you have to book direct. It can also be the most simple way to book.

Why are flights so expensive right now 2022? ›

Between staffing shortages, aircraft delays and airlines' conservative schedules after costly travel meltdowns, available seats are limited. Airlines are also passing along higher fuel prices and other costs to customers, keeping ticket prices elevated.

Why are flights so expensive right now for March 2022? ›

Flights and Routes Cancellations Affect Supply

As a result of fewer flights available to accommodate the hiked demand, the average airline airfare in the U.S. is up 16.9% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. This is yet another reason why are flights so expensive in 2022.

Should you wait to buy plane tickets? ›

So, as a general rule of thumb, you'll want to book plane tickets well in advance, as prices spike sharply in the days preceding the flight, taking advantage of any last-minute travelers who have no choice but to pay up.

How far in advance is best for buying flights? ›

It's ideal to search for airfare at these moments:
  • International airfare: 6 weeks ahead.
  • Domestic airfare in summer: 47 days ahead.
  • Domestic airfare in autumn and winter: 62–69 days ahead.
  • Domestic airfare in spring: 90 days ahead.

Why are Christmas flights so expensive this year? ›

Flights for the holidays will be the most expensive in five years, fare-tracker Hopper said Monday. Strong demand and limited capacity will keep fares aloft. Travel experts recommend flexibility and traveling outside of the busiest travel days.

Will flights go down in 2023? ›

Recent estimates point to air fares rising over 8% in 2023. And while that may not seem like an alarmingly large increase, given that travel has already gotten expensive, it could put a lot of people in a tough spot next year.

Will airfare go up in summer 2022? ›

Flight prices are rising, and they're not expected to come down anytime soon. At the beginning of 2022, the flight and hotel company Hopper released its quarterly Consumer Airfare Index Report. We're now going into the second quarter, and the latest report shows prices are reaching record highs.

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