For several years now, airline travelers have been practicing the strategy of booking well in advance for a planned trip. Booking early or travelling during off- season ensured they get the best and lowest airfare. However, entry of new players and the need to retain the market share has made the airlines change their way of selling tickets.
With the government’s initiatives to introduce air travel even in the tier 2 cities and towns, the rush of traffic on the major cities has reduced considerably and airlines are competing to introduce direct routes.
Factors that could influence lowest airfare:
- busy routes will keep the demand up so possibilities of getting low fares are very unlikely.
- if the flight is connecting to an international destination but you require only a domestic seat, the price could be high.
- if the date of travel coincides with some ongoing event/ festival (sports, film festivals) at the destination sector. The demand will be more.
Several online travel portals and flight aggregators offer price alerts. Due to the different schemes and strategies adopted by various airlines, the airline prices have been highly volatile. If you have any tentative dates to travel, you can sign up with a travel operator and set up an alert for the price on the route you intend to travel. Some websites offer a chart that shows how the price trend has been in the past month and an approximate estimated drop in price. They send you an email or message over your phone about the likely lowest airfare on the dates you have asked for.
Avoid peak season travel:
It is nearly impossible to get the low airfares during peak high season time- summer vacations, Diwali, Christmas/ New Year, long weekends, or when the student traffic to US/ Europe is high. Even booking in advance may not get you low fares because the airlines are overbooked.
Best options to book:
The main consideration, as mentioned earlier, to get the lowest airfare could the destination and route you travel. Booking at least 3 weeks in advance can get you a good rate. Chances of overpaying are remote. Similarly, if it is a holiday destination, mid-week travel can fetch you a better rate than the weekend travel. There are a few airlines that drop their fares for last minute tickets.
This is a practice that usually has been followed in hotels where you get good bargains over the counter, although taking an airport chance could be irksome. For instance, Air India has been offering air fares on certain routes on prices equivalent to that of Rajdhani express A/C 2 tier fare. This could perhaps be among the lowest airfare on the routes in comparison to the other airlines flying on the route. The clause they have put is the tickets can be purchased within four hours of the scheduled time. Air India has added 7 more routes to the already existing 4 routes. It is called “spot fares scheme” and is valid between June 27th and 30th September.