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10 expert tips for booking cheap flights

Finance & Money

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2017

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When searching for super cheap flights, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constantly fluctuating prices and the sheer number of airlines to choose from, as well as all the specials and discount booking websites available. Where do you start?

Here are some important tips that will help to save you time and money when it comes to searching cheap flights, and ensure you always get the best deals available. 

1. Be flexible about your flight dates

When searching for cheap flights, it’s good to bear in mind important dates and peak-season travel. School holidays and public holidays always hike up prices. Time of day also affects the cost of flights. If you are willing to fly at less popular times, like the red eye or at lunch or supper time, you will find better deals.

2. Use apps to compare and check with your travel agent

It’s easy to skip the travel agent and just do it yourself, but sometimes it pays to try both. Constantly compare cheap flights, while a travel agent does the same thing. Familiarise yourself with the sites that offer the best prices and compare what you find with what your travel agent has on offer.

3. Sign up for discount airline or travel agency mailers

Take some of the hard work out of finding cheap flights by signing up to helpful mail alerts. If you can’t handle the bombardment in your inbox, set up a new email account specifically for flash sales, new routes and last-minute deals.

4. Book really early or really late tofly cheap

Regularly checking prices is the most important way to get cheap flights. Airlines frequently release discount tickets right before a flight, so if you can be flexible with dates, then look around for specials 4 to 10 weeks before you’d like to fly. An example is Mango’s regular flight specials that apply during that month or the next month only. Skyscanner’s price alert emails help to monitor price fluctuations.

5. Book outbound and inbound flights separately

When booking domestic flights, book your outbound flight and search for the best deal on the return flight afterwards. On the other hand, when booking an international flight, book the flights together as this will work out cheaper.

6. Check all airports for best prices

When looking for cheap flights to or from Joburg, always check OR Tambo and Lanseria. Prices vary at both.

7. Midweek flights tend to becheaper flights

Planes are least full on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, which means airlines offer these as the cheapest flights. 

8. Don’t be afraid of flights with a layover

Although stopping off for hours in a foreign airport isn’t ideal, it can save you considerable cash. Plus, if you have enough time you can add another city to your list of places to explore. Some airports also offer hotel vouchers for a stayover, so explore this option before you book.

9. Sign up for frequent flyer programmes

If an airline has a frequent flyer programme, sign up. For example, you can use your SAA Voyager miles to get discounts with Mango to get the best cheap flights.

10. Look for great flight-and-hotel package deals

You might be able to grab a great deal by booking a package, rather than booking each separately. Hotels often do these deals to hide extreme discounted rates, which they don’t want to advertise.


The information contained in this document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.