Great tips for cheaper flying

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Already dreaming of your next holiday? Here’s how to get the best deals.
Aviation commentator Peter Clark says to get in early or wait to the last minute because that's when flights were usually cheapest. Photo / Getty Images
Aviation commentator Peter Clark says to get in early or wait to the last minute because that's when flights were usually cheapest. Photo / Getty Images

If you are looking to book the cheapest flight possible, travel on a Wednesday and book your airfare about six weeks out. And whatever you do, keep your browsing top secret and don't go during the school holidays.

With more Kiwis than ever taking off for a break overseas, the Herald on Sunday has compiled a list of tips to help you spend less on airfares and save more of your holiday budget for fun.

Aviation commentator Peter Clark recommended using web search engines like WebJet, Skyscanner or Expedia to research fares but said to make sure you knew what you wanted before doing so because as soon as airlines got wind that people were searching for a particular flight, prices rose. "Know where you want to go and when. Search with a purpose."

He also said to get in early or wait to the last minute because that's when flights were usually cheapest. "Airlines need bums on seats."

Travel website Thrifty Nomads suggested keeping searches private because flight prices increased when a route was repeatedly searched.

"The site wants to scare you into booking the flight quickly before prices get even higher. Always search in private browsing mode to see the lowest prices."

The way to open an incognito window in Google Chrome or Safari is hit Command, Shift, N.

For Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit Command (or "Control" if using a PC), Shift, P.

The website also said sometimes a flight connecting to a city you want to go to is cheaper than flying directly to it. This is known as "hidden city" flying. A search engine called Skiplagged locates these flights.

But this trick - frowned upon by airlines - should be used with caution because if the flight you're on happens to be the same one continuing to the final destination, you may not be allowed to disembark the plane. Also, you won't be able to check-in any luggage as this will arrive at the final destination, rather than the stop-over.

House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas said the one thing to never do if you're looking for cheap flights is to travel during the school holidays.

"I can't emphasise that enough. Don't fly then, whatever you do. It's the peak of all travel."

There are also are a couple of big sales during the year when long-haul airfares are competitively priced - one is the New Year sale, which is taking place now. Others sell shoulder season fares.

The travel centre is offering up to 50 per cent off Fiji, Queensland and Rarotonga resorts.

Thomas said to be mindful of the complete cost of flying, so although a flight might be "super cheap" it could arrive at 2am and require a hotel stay, so a midafternoon arrival might end up cheaper.

Six ways to get the cheapest flights

• Use a private browser.
• Consider flying mid-week.
• Monitor airline websites.
• Book six weeks in advance.
• Use a "hidden city": fly to a connecting destination rather than a final one (not recommended by airlines).
• Travel during the off-season.

- Herald on Sunday

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