Words: Neda Dorudi
The Forensic Traveller series: Talking travel and savings
As a travel industry professional, Neda is often asked how to score the best deals on travel. Here are her top three tips:
Being early is key
Early bookers you will get the best deals, and as long as you are fairly certain of your travel dates (especially families who travel during school holidays), then book away, as those cheap fares are there for those who are on top of the booking ladder. The airline seat sales are wide open at this point, but as it gets closer to take off, and the demands start exceeding the supply then they pull the reins and fares start rising, because they know they can get those seats sold.
Airlines always overbook because there are inevitably ‘no-shows’ (the people who book but never show up) but this can also be a gamble for the airlines, as what happens if everyone shows up? Then of course they have an over-booking problem to deal with.
Now they must entice people to take another flight on a different day, and offer either money or an upgrade to make it worth their while. Of course, passengers may not accept depending on their commitments. My guess is that they will make an offer they would find hard to refuse.
Either way, this is another good reason to arrive early for your flight, in case it’s your seat at risk of being given to a fellow traveller thanks to the over-booking scenario.
The golden rule of seasons
You’ve probably heard that there are seasons for travel; ‘high’, ‘shoulder’, ‘low’, this means that fare prices fluctuate according to the month of travel, supply and demand.
Example, between November and January, airlines will have promotional fares and sales, excluding the Christmas period when demand is high. January to March is what we in the travel industry refer to as ‘low season’. From March until June it is ‘shoulder season’, and June onwards until the beginning of October it is ‘peak season’, and then it goes back to ‘low season’. If you make a chart of these seasons, you will be a winner and really enjoy excellent savings and be taking off more often.
Airlines are like all businesses – they want to make money, and they will sell their fares at outrageous prices to those who are very late bookers.
What is codeshare?
Another travel tip most are not aware of is that airlines within the same alliances codeshare their flights. Codeshare means the same route can be shown and sold in an availability as two different airlines within the same alliance, but operated using one carrier’s aircraft. For example, you may be searching for the best fares from London to Berlin; you check the best British Airways fare, but find it too much. Then you notice the same route is being sold as Air Berlin, and when you check the cost, the price is much cheaper, so you decide to book it on Air Berlin. The aircraft, however, might still be operated by British Airways, and both airlines are part of One World Alliance.
It sounds confusing, but all Star Alliance and One World Alliance carriers are doing this. As these are the two largest alliances in the world, carriers now have spilt very much into these two groups, even though there are other groups with quite large networks such as the Sky Team, which include KLM, Air France, Delta, Alitalia, Korean.
Get to know your alliances when it comes to finding the best prices, because you can use the networks of different carriers, but still discover competitive fares.
Codesharing gives you, the traveller, a bit more scope for a better price, and allows the airlines to use two or three flight prefixes to sell the same route.
Food for thought!
Enjoy your globe trekking.