Travel News

How to book the cheapest flights

Travel expert Megan Singleton shares the tricks and tips for snagging the best deal.

There has never been a better time to be a traveller thanks to increased competition, but knowing when to hit the button and buy can be tricky.

My first flight to the UK back in 1988 (one row in front of the smoking section with nary a curtain between us) cost around $2,200. Today, you can fly to London for $1,500 return.

Admittedly that fare is a launch fare by the newest entrant into the New Zealand market, Qatar Airways via Doha. But I expect the competition on flights to Europe to heat up in 2017 like the blistering hot fares we now enjoy on a regular basis to the USA.

Cathay Pacific recently sold Business Class fares to Europe for $3,500 in their “earlybird” campaign – about half of what we had been used to paying.

When is the best time to buy a holiday?

It used to be that we had airfare sales like we’d have clothing sales. They were predictable seasonally and waiting for them to book your next holiday was like waiting for the Smith and Caughey sale, then all scurry and flurry during sale week.

But that’s not the case anymore. Airfares have been in a cut-throat price battle for a couple of years thanks to new airlines entering the New Zealand market, and we travellers are the happy winners.

It’s still nice to know you’ve bagged the best bargain, so here are some tips to try:

Set up price alerts

If you use Skyscanner, a web-scraping site that pulls together a bunch of different airlines and routes, you can set up an email alert for when a fare falls below a certain price. Say you want to pay $1600 return to Paris, load that in and you’ll get an email when it does.

Sign up, sign up!

Stay on top of the latest specials by subscribing to airline newsletters to ensure deals land in your inbox direct from the airline.

Join their (often free) programs like Expedia+ Rewards which offers members pricing.

Join airpoints programs and collect points on more than just flights. Air New Zealand has now added Mercury Energy to their partner list, so from November those of us who buy their power from Mercury can earn airpoints too.

Facebook

You may not like your newsfeed filled with promoted posts, but to be first in line for a hot deal, this is a great medium. Follow the New Zealand pages of airline and travel agents, even destinations like Australian states and Pacific Islands, because deals come through from them that aren’t found elsewhere. (Make sure you are following the NZ pages for deals though.)

Also, remember that Facebook only allows you to see about five per cent of the pages you are a fan of, so to get around this, ‘like’ the odd status every now and then and Facebook will (should!) realise you want to see more of that kind of thing.

Finding the best travel deal is like knowing when to buy shares. Follow the trends for a while and pretty soon you’ll realise what is a good price – and when a pearler hits your inbox or social media feed, you can confidently hit play and you’re away!

Megan Singleton, aka Blogger at Large, is hosting small, bespoke tours in 2017.

New Orleans and Houston in March 2017

See Steven Adams play for the OKC, stay in the French Quarter and a plantation home on the Mississippi, eat Texas BBQ and visit the Johnson Space Center.

Hong Kong and Macau in April 2017

Includes a three-day pass to the Hong Kong 7s, plenty of time for shopping and rooftop bars plus two nights in historic Macau.

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