• Finding You The Cheapest Flight, Pt. 1

    Tourism seasons:

    The Skinny

    South East Asia is tropical which means it is hot pretty much the entire time. The difference is the degree of quite how hot it is and quite how wet you are. The equatorial parts have two main seasons: wet and dry, with the wet in the winter and hot in the summer. The Indochinese part has three distinct seasons: hot, wet and dry. Cool and dry runs November to February; March and April bring searing heat that makes a go at hitting 40; July onwards sees the temperature thankfully fall a little and the heavens open regularly during the afternoon in torrential, but temporary, downpours.

    The Important Bit

    Cool and dry brings the tourists. The tourists bring demand and the demand drives prices up. Both flights and living costs are significantly higher during the high tourist season between November to February.

    Let's compare a midweek flight one way from Glasgow(GLA) to Bangkok(BKK) using a flight aggregator:

    Wednesday 23rd January: £427 with KLM (High season)
    Wednesday 26th June: £348 with KLM (Out of season)

    That's £79 quid saved by flying out of season.

    Where to fly to:

    The Skinny

    With dirt cheap internal flights offered by sites like AirAsia it's often cheaper flying to a transport hub and then jumping in a flying toaster to your real destination. (I have been advised by my solicitor to point out that all air travel in the South East Asia region is highly regulated and run by companies that insist on the highest levels of safety)

    Flights from Bangkok to Malaysia, Vietnam or Singapore are $67 or £42 at the moment, so as long as you don't mind spending a few days en route it can often save you a few quid.

    The Important Bit

    Let's compare two ways of getting to an ultimate destination of Kuala Lumpur, though this could be near enough anywhere in SEA, personally I'm starting off in Bali. A 1-stop flight to KL would look like this:

    Glasgow(GLA) via Dubai(DXB) to Kuala Lumpur(KUL): £570

    Compare this with flying to a transport hub and taking a short flight.

    Glasgow(GLA) via Dubai(DXB) to Bangkok(BKK): £348 + £42 = £390

    £180 in your pocket right there by flying to a transport hub.

    Use Flight Search Sites:

    The Skinny

    Flight aggregators are beautiful things, remember all the tedious research and trailing through flight operators sites; or even worse, visiting the travel agents! Well that is at an end! Flight aggregators take flight details from you and search the myriad of providers for the best deals. It's perhaps a bit counter intuitive that adding an extra party could actually make the cost less but aggregators often list flights at the same, or a lower, price that the airlines directly. Especially when your journey involves two airlines flight aggregators can be especially useful since it automatically matches connecting flights for you.

    The Important Bit

    There are lots of flight comparison sites, just Google, 'Cheap flight search,' and you'll have all the sites you need. My favourites are SkyScanner, Momondo, KAYAK and Expedia. Don't stick with the same one as certain sites have specific niches, look around and try a variety. Searching for a flight in May 2013 here are the results I got.

    Travelsupermarket: £337.34.
    SkyScanner: £342.
    Momondo: £342
    KAYAK: £345
    Expedia: £363

    Use flight comparison sites! Use lots of flight comparison sites! Make your dates flexible to find the cheapest possible days each week/month.

    Booking Early:

    The Skinny

    The days of stand-by seats and last minute deals seem to be long gone. Airlines have gotten onto the fact that business passengers will pay whatever they are charged for last minute seats so the rule here is now book early. The earlier tends to be the better.

    The Important Bit

    Let's compare a flight a couple months away with one about a year.

    June 2013 Glasgow (GLA) to Bangkok (BKK): £353
    September 2012 Glasgow (GLA) to Bangkok(BKK): £419

    A saving of £66 by booking early. If that was a return ticket then you can bump the saving up even more. Book early to save money for that extra week on a Thai beach!

    Round Trip or Single:

    The Skinny

    This might come across as a moot question. Why pay for two single tickets totalling more than a return? There's a couple of good reasons, but first let's look at the price difference, comparing flights from Glasgow to Dubai and back again.

    Glasgow (GLA) to Dubai (DXB) & Dubai (DXB) to Glasgow (GLA): £676

    Glasgow (GLA) to Dubai (DXB): £449
    Dubai (DXB) to Glasgow (GLA): £445
    Total: £894

    So a big monetary gap here of around £200. And while this may look like a forgone conclusion there are some benefits to the double single, and the big word here is flexibility. A one way ticket let's you travel with an open jaw. It let's you finish when and where you want. Have you come to the end of your planned trip and still have a couple hundred quid in your back pocket? Then you might as well take a mosey up to Bhutan or Nepal! Conversely, if it turns out you are allergic to anything and everything in SEA, or just miss the family and want to come home then you need not wait out the last few months on your ticket.

    The Important Bit

    Airlines like money. Airlines are also proficient at parting you from your money. If you want to change the date of your flight chances are you're getting a big hefty charge slapped across your face. For a minor administrative task you can get tack on an extra £150/200 to your flight costs.

    If you know how long your trip is going to last then flexibility means little to you. If you are travelling until money runs out the flexibility of time and location of the double single is a consideration you may well want to act on.

    Weigh It Up:

    The Important Bit

    Planes are uncomfortable things and after collecting all your cheapest flight details have a long think about exactly what you're paying for. Flight A might be cheaper than Flight B but are the 4 changes you make and 14 extra hours you spend in that pressurised cigar tub worth the 50 quid you've saved? There is a relative tipping point for everyone and it's up to you to decide where it is. If you're one of those annoying people who can get comfortable in planes and fall asleep in seconds then maybe you don't mind and can ignore this whole section!

    Really, it's your decision. It'll all depend on your budget and how many pennies you're pinching so I'm afraid this section comes with no steadfast rules.

    Finished? Read part 2 here.

    Images curtesy of www.sxc.hu from icemetall, capcloud, flaxius, cozgrl05, Eastop and pontuse respectively.

    6 comments → Finding You The Cheapest Flight, Pt. 1

    1. Anonymous said... 30 July 2012 09:52


    2. Just OK!? After all the work I put in!!? Nah just kidding. Hope it helped, even if it's just a little.

    3. Anonymous said... 1 August 2012 04:04

      Preeeeeeeeeeetty helpful. :D

    4. Cheers! Glad it was of use, I'll try and keep the tips coming.

    5. Anonymous said... 2 August 2012 10:06

      I'm just investigating all these options from Aus to Asia - thanks for your info!

    6. No problem at all. Glad to be of help!

    Post a Comment