The ultimate guide to booking cheap flight tickets in India

Published: July 27, 2021 at 8:08 am

If I say that I never frowned at the prices of air tickets, I’d be lying. Most of us are always on the lookout for cheap flight tickets. This holds especially true for those who love to travel. Believe me, I have a friend who once booked a ticket only because it was cheap. He didn’t have any plan to travel from Delhi to Mumbai, but once he came across the price through a colleague, booking the ticket was the beginning of his impromptu vacation.

This article will help you with some well-known and other lesser-known tips that can help you save money when you book flight tickets in India. Some of these tips may seem like no-brainers, but this article is an attempt to bust all the misinformation and help you save time as well as money. I am not promising huge discounts. However, even if you can save a few hundred, you can buy that expensive burger at the airport. 😉 Worthwhile I say!

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Tip 1: Special Bank offers:

We have all come across special discounts offered upon booking using specific bank cards. You can search using the names of cards you own. For example, You can search “flight offers for HDFC bank credit cards”. These offers range from cashback to instant discounts. If you fly frequently, you can also use frequent flyer cards that allow you to accumulate points on your flight purchases.

A word of Caution:

Most bank card offers are applicable only on certain websites where the prices may already be high. Many times, you may fall for the bank’s ploy to make you use their card and still not save any money. You must thus compare the effective prices on other websites too.

Tip 2: Discounts using coupon codes from coupon websites

You can run a simple google search for site-specific coupons. For example, MakeMyTrip discount code or Goibibo coupon code. This will help you get coupons to apply when you book using the aggregator site. While the savings from these coupons are not very huge, you can at least save on convenience fees. You can also see some discounts on dedicated pages of aggregator sites.

Tip 3: Wallet cash

All aggregator sites have their virtual wallets to hold the cashback amounts you earn through offers on your transactions. This is a trusted way to get discounts on your travel bookings. There are other ways to earn these wallet points too. They vary per website. Some common ways include downloading the app, inviting referrals, booking hotels, etc. However, to make the best out of this tip, you will have to stick to a single site.

Tip 4: Plan in advance but not too early

Based on a study by Expedia, on average, the lowest priced tickets for a flight are sold 57 days before the flight. Contrary to popular opinion, booking too early may not be the best strategy. It is highly unlikely for airlines to sell very low-priced tickets that early because they still have a lot of time to sell the tickets. The prices are usually the highest 2-3 weeks before departure.

Tip 5: Hand baggage only fares

Solo travelers can save significantly by opting for hand baggage-only fares. When the flights are running full, airlines incentivize travelers with minimal luggage by offering low fares. 

Tip 6: The popular myth of taking flights at odd hours will barely save you any money.

Most people swear by the idea of travelling very late at night to score flight tickets at low prices. Rightly so, flights at odd hours are usually cheap. However, it will cost you a bomb to take a cab at those hours. Depending on where you live, it may also be unsafe or you may not get a cab at all. This option works well for groups where travellers can share the cab expenses.

Tip 7: Having a flexible schedule is more conducive to savings

If you can move your travel dates 1-2 days back or forth, you are likely to bag a ticket at a better price. Travelling over the weekend, for instance, is cheaper than travelling on Friday. Airfare calendars are the best way to see all the prices together and choose a date based on pricing and convenience.

Tip 8: Use 3rd party wallets

Most wallets such as Paytm, Razorpay, MobiKwik, etc. offer additional cashback when you use them to pay for your flights. You can later use these cashback to pay your bills, recharge prepaid mobiles, buy grocery or pay at kiosks.

Tip 9: There are better offers on mobile apps as compared to websites

All flight aggregator sites have moved to mobile apps. Most good offers are rolled out for mobile apps and not websites because they want more people to move to the app. This allows them to send out notifications and stay in touch with the users. Frequent flyers benefit greatly from apps as they can book based on offer availability.

Tip 10: Booking a round trip may work out expensive

While you may be getting notifications that you will save if you book a roundtrip, a better way may be to book with different airlines for both legs of the journey. This way you can get a cheaper fare and also earn more cashback and discounts from multiple bookings.

Tip 11: Airline fees are generally lower than convenience fees charged by aggregators

This tip is valid if you are not getting additional cashback, coupons, or discounts on booking through 3rd party websites. You can note down the flight details and check the price on the airline website. You are likely to score a good deal because the airline fees are usually lower. You can also get senior citizen and student discounts on some airline websites.

Tip 12: Go incognito

Whoever has booked flight tickets in the past is aware of how dynamic flight prices are. They keep changing based on demand and seat availability. So if you search for a flight, and keep researching about it, the prices are likely to go up. This is because the websites perceive a high demand for the flight. This is done using cookies. Using incognito mode to research is a great way to combat this challenge.

Tip 13: Choose to receive alerts when the price goes down

You can use google flights to track the prices of a flight. You will receive email alerts when the price changes. This way you can book when the prices go down. 

Tip 14: Loyalty to a particular website may be expensive

It is very important to keep comparing the prices offered by various websites. If you stay loyal to a single website, you may miss some great discounts and offers.

Tip 15: Use the book now, pay later feature if you are not sure about your travel plans

This is a great feature that allows you to reserve your seat at the current price without paying for it. This way you can cancel or reschedule your flight without incurring exorbitant cancellation or rescheduling fees. It also acts as a cushion against increasing prices.

Conclusion: With a little planning and research you can decrease the expense you incur on your flight ticket. However, once you get a good price, book it. The prices may go up if you wait for too long. Also account for the value of your time. If you spend hours just booking one ticket, it may not be worthwhile.

Want to do more? The ultimate guide to travel by Pranav Surya is a deep dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap international flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step. Get the pdf for ₹199 (instant download)

 

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