How to Find the “Best Value” Flights – Cheap Tickets and Best Seats Guide
Finding the best flight fares is an art that can be perfected with practice. We revised the last airline’s reports and went on a quest to find the top tips and hacks to book the best value flights: cheapest fares with maximum comfort. Here is the summary of all you need to know to find the best flight fares, get the best seats and save good money when you travel.
There are brand new (and bigger!) travel deals waiting for you. Check them all now here. It is time to get that flight out!
Tips for booking the cheapest flights
Hacks to book the cheapest flights in 2019:
Recent reports (such as the ARC 2019 Air travel Outlook report) state that the lowest average flight price is usually found on Sundays, for both economy and business class. And the sweet spot for booking economy fares seems to be 3 weeks prior to your departure.
- Why is this good news? Before we were convinced that the best flight price would be found 6 months before the travel date but if the 3 weeks timing proves to be true for us here in Singapore, then we’re in for a treat! We can book amazing cheap flights for our upcoming long weekends.
It isn’t hard to cute down on your overall travel spend. You can save around 10% on airfares simply by choosing flights that take off on Thursday or Friday.
If you are on a work trip during the week, the numbers show that you can save on your return ticket if you extended your trip to include a Saturday night. This can save you up to 25% of the original price. In short, stay a bit longer in a destination, and you’ll probably save money on the total cost of the flights.
You can also get discounted fares when you bundle flights and hotel stays (and in some cases even travel experiences and transportation). For example, adding a flight to an existing hotel booking through Expedia.com can result in hotel savings of up to 43%. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this!
Example 1: Book a Cheaper Long Weekend Trip to KK for 2 pax
Let’s say you need a short break and you want to head to a destination nearby with your significant other over the upcoming April 2019 long weekend (19 April, Good Friday is a public holiday.)
- Flights to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia during Easter cost less than $400 for a return flight for 2. If you take 2 days off, you can fly on Thursday and return on Monday.
- You decide to book a flight and hotel package through Expedia. The package of 4 nights in the Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel hotel along with the flights cost you $795.01. You save $98.48 out of the original price of
$893.43. If you book through ShopBack, you get 2.50% cashback on packages so you can shave off an additional $19.87 of your cost!
- Total savings = $118.35. Kaching!
Still not convinced? Here is another example.
Example 2: Book a Family Trip to Europe for 4 pax
School holidays are coming up and you want to spend some quality time with the fam. Let’s say you are a Game of Thrones enthusiast and you want to take the family over to Europe to see one of the filming locations. Girona in Spain sounds like a great destination: it is close to Barcelona and it is where part of GOT season 6 was filmed. You will recognise some of the scenes from Braavos and King’s Landing!
- You start searching for flights to Barcelona. March is a relatively affordable time to fly to Barcelona from Singapore. Cheaper flights can be found with Etihad Airways, Air France and Turkish Airlines, for example. The most affordable options are the morning flights and the cheaper fares are from Sunday to Thursday.
- You book a 2 way Economy flight for 4 pax (17 to 24 March) through Trip.com that originally would cost you $6,117.89. But, you book through ShopBack and earn 1.50% cashback on that.
- Total savings = $91.77. And this is only for the flights.
It is easy to maximise your savings while you travel. The trick is to research, compare and book through ShopBack.
Where can you find and compare flights?
|direct flights cost more than flights with stopovers. Wrong!|
|This only applies to some cases. You can find direct flights that cost less than flights with stopovers on several occasions. Example: newly added routes and when you travel during low season.|
Here are a few platforms that help you compare flights prices across different airlines to make your choice much easier.
- Kayak Explore – Key in the airport you are flying from and Kayak Explore will provide the lowest round-trip prices all for destinations.
- Google Flights – It highlights ways to save money by making slight modifications to your itinerary — like changing your return date by a day or two. You can use the calendar function to see prices on specific departure dates.
- Skyscanner – Works for multi cities search and if you are not certain of which destination to visit, you can choose the option “Everywhere” on the search and it will show you average prices for different recommended destinations, organised by country.
- Momondo – Allows you to search and compare real-time prices on flights so you can find the cheapest, quickest and best travel deals.
How to Get The Best Seat on Your Flight
Low priced flights are great but comfortable seats in the aircraft are also important! We always want the best seat we can get.
What’s a better seat those days?
The definition of a “better” seat can differ. A while ago you would say that a good seat means “premium economy” or a seat on business class. But now, considering all the restrictions and pricing rules airlines have, a better seat can be anything that is not a middle seat.
Best seats in the plane
|window seat, aisle seat, exit rows' seats and seats closer to the front.|
- Bulkhead seats are the ones in front or next to exits that provide more legroom (see row 6 or row 11 on the example below). Airlines tend to charge extra for these seats as they have more space to stretch. Although, some don’t like these because the tray table and entertainment centre (if any) lie on the armrest. When open, these take a bit of space. Also, you can’t store anything on the floor or under the seat with you. The proximity to the galley isn’t very appealing to some either.
Personally, I like these seats for the long hauls. If the price is right, I don’t mind paying a bit extra for it. I get to stretch and being close to galleys allows me to get my own water without having to call the air hostess all the time. I can also get up to go to the bathroom without bothering any of my fellow passengers.
- It is all about the legroom. It might not seem that important now, but after 3 hours or more in a flight, when the muscles start to cramp, and the knees start to hurt, you will want to stretch your limbs. So, mind your seat pitch: Economy class cabins on long haul flights generally have 31/32 inches seat pitch.
- Exit row seats usually offer a bit more legroom, but they’re not appropriate if you’re travelling as a family. Children are not permitted to sit in exit rows.
The best seat depends on your trip and your preferences.
- Taking a short flight that is arriving at Changi late at night on a Sunday? The best seat will be just in front so you can be the first to leave the aircraft.
- Taking a long haul flight? Take an aisle seat that allows you to get up and move without having to ask any other passenger to give way.
- Do you plan to sleep during the flight? Stay away from galleys and toilets and pick a window seat so you can rest your head.
- Don’t enjoy bumpy rides? Take a seat on the middle over the wings. You will feel the turbulence more if you are seated on the rear or right at the front.
- Do you like your silence? Front of the cabin tends to be quieter.
- Safety purposes? According to the reports, passengers seating on the trailing edges of the wings have a higher survival rate in plane crashes. In cases of evacuation, aisle seats are better.
Cabin seat chart
Here is an example of a cabin seat arrangement based on a regular Boeing 787-900 aircraft from Scoot, for reference purposes only. The seat plans change depending on the carrier.
Seats to avoid
- The middle seat in any row is generally undesirable.
- Seats near toilets and galleys (flight attendant areas) tend to be busier and noisier – too many people passing by – so it’s better to avoid these areas during long haul flights.
- Seats in the back – Rows 28, 29 and 44, 45 don’t get good reviews from other passengers because they are too far back and too close to the toilets.
- Odd seats – Sometimes you might be assigned a seat that is technically a window seat but you reach the aircraft, and you realise there’s actually no window on that spot. Weird… But this is due to the seat arrangement in a specific aircraft. Take row 29 and 42 in the chart above. If this is a pro or a con depends on personal interpretation. Do you like to look and admire the sky outside when flying? If not, this is not a problem.
Tips and tricks to get the best seats
What airlines want is to monetise the h**l out of every seat. We will have to “walk the extra mile” to get a seat that is better than the regular economy and still affordable. Here is what you can do:
1. Find the best seats with SeatGuru: this platform shows you the cabin plans of different airlines along with reviews from real travellers like you.
2. Buy your tickets early. The earlier you book, the better the chances of finding more seats available.
3. Select your seat when you book: you can choose your preferred seat when you make your booking. Note that some airlines charge you for this perk.
4. A fail-proof way to get the best seat – buy it! No joke… Many airlines now offer economy-class seats with extra legroom for an additional fee. These “Economy Plus” seats are usually at the exit rows and have up to seven extra inches of seat pitch. They can be purchased on a one-time basis and, if available, you can even purchase them while you’re inflight.
5. Keep checking for available seats or set a seat alert. This will take time, but some people manage to score the seat they want when they look for empty seats a few hours before the flight. An easier way to go around this task is to set a seat alert with tools like ExpertFlyer.com.
6. Join a frequent flyer program: providing your frequent flyer number at the time of reservation can help you get a good seat, especially if you are a loyal, high-ranking member. If you can get an Elite status, even better. Elite flyers tend to be first in line for upgrades. Tip: To maximise your elite status stick to one airline and its partners. And keep your boarding passes until the miles have posted.
HACK: Want to fly business class for (almost) free?
- Find a less-popular flight with empty seats. It can be the first flight in the morning or an overnight flight. Keep your eye on the seat map and wait until the end to board the plane. If you notice an open exit row, ask the flight attendant if you can seat on the premium seats. If the flight is somehow empty, you might be allowed to seat there free of charge.
- The old, “I’ll ask for a better seat at the gate” strategy might work but bear in mind that the assistants have heard it all before. And be prepared to get a negative reply or be told that the upgrade must be paid. In any case, it is worth a try. Just be friendly. Once you reach your gate, ask whether any new seats have opened up. If other passengers upgrade to business class or don’t show up for the flight, you might get lucky and grab a better one.
The last resource,
- You can still nab a better seat. Don’t be shy to tell the flight attendants about any issues you might have. The TV screen in front of you is not working? Or, maybe it is your seat that doesn’t recline. Let the flight attendant know and, if there are other seats available, you might get lucky and be moved to a better spot.
How much can you save?
You already know you can save on flights but the news get better. Not only you can save on all your travel expenses: hotels, transportations, activities and even insurance, you also have the chance to get $5000 cashback if you make any travel purchase through ShopBack this March 2019.
*Disclaimer: All prices are correct at the time of publication and can change without previous notice. Refer to the merchants’ website for the latest rates.