Before you book

Knowing the right time to book your flights is tough. Personally I think the further out you book them the cheaper and the greater number of flights you have to choose from. Some people leave their flights in the hope that cheaper flights will miraculously appear, just in time for them to travel.

It really is a personal choice. I personally like to be organised. Booking and paying for my flights early also allows me to spread the cost of my holiday across a staggered period.

Before booking any part of my holiday, the first thing I recommend you do is to check with your Credit Card provider to find out if your credit card comes with free travel insurance, and what you are covered for with that policy if you have one. If your card provider does not include coverage, or the coverage is very limited consider getting travel insurance as soon as you can. (I will be writing a post on things to consider when choosing travel insurance.)

My tool of choice for booking flights is Webjet. I find it easy to use and makes it easy to compare prices and times.

Same Arrival and Departure Points

When you first land on the Webjet flight page you will be presented with the prompts for Arrival and Departure points and dates.

The page is very intuitive.

Different Arrival and Departure Points

Many people don’t realise that they can organise flights for multi leg journeys using the “Multi City/Stopover” Tab on the search screen.

I use this option when I am arriving in one city and departing from another at the end of my trip. I don’t tend to use it to organise any internal flights or short flights that I need during my holiday. I tend to find that using local carriers for internal flights a cheaper option.

Things to look out for

When choosing the flight option that is right for you, there are few things that you should consider.

AirlineSafety record and reputation are important. Also don’t forget to check which terminal you are departing from. As a Melbournian it is pretty easy to forget about Avalon Airport and that might not work for you.
LuggageHow much check luggage is included in your fare.
Departure TimeAre you flying at night or early in the morning and what works best for you.
If you have an early morning flight, consider staying out near the airport the night before.
Stop OverWhere are you stopping over and how long are you stopping for. The flight from Australia to Europe is already long without adding a lot of hours at an airport.
Arrival AirportIn the example above this flight would be landing at Gatwick airport, not Heathrow. Flights are usually cheaper to Gatwick but it will take longer to get from Gatwick to London and probably a more expensive transfer unless you take the train.
Arrival TimeCheck out what time of day you will be arriving, think about how you are planning on travelling from the airport and where are you planning on staying. Is check in or check out available at that time.
Departure DateCheck the time of your departure flight and consider what that does to the last day of your holidays. It may mean you actually lose that last day, or you have a long commute to get to the airport for an early morning flight.

More detailed information is available when you click on “More Details”. From here you can tell things like the type of plane, the actual terminal you will be landing at and flight duration.

Other things to watch out for

Flights are something that is often costly to change, so it is important to check things out thoroughly before you book.

In the example above, the main page indicates 1hr and 15 minute stop in Dubai. But next to the duration it has 2+ stops. The question needs to be asked where is the other stop, and how long is it for. Again the “More Details” button provides you with that information. This flight will make an additional stop in Singapore. Given that they haven’t specified the duration of the stop over it will probably mean that there will be no need for you to get off the plane. But if you are not keen on the take offs and landing parts of a flight it is worth noting that you have more of them than you expected.

The other thing that is worth mentioning is that even though this is a Qantas flight, the flight will be operated by their partner Emirates. Emirates are a great airline and their staff have always been very friendly, it is just important to take note of who your carrier is because it can get a bit confusing when you get to the airport or you try to check in the day before you fly and you don’t know who to check in with, is it Qantas or Emirates?

Filters are great

In the end, I often use the filters to find the flight that works the best for me.

Adjust the filters to suit your needs
The departure time, luggage allowance and stop over times work for me perfectly.

Consider a stop over

If you don’t plan on travelling very often I would seriously consider spending a couple of days in the country where the flight stops over. For example with Emirates it will stop in Dubai, with Qatar it will stop in Doha with Singapore Airlines it will stop in Singapore. Why not break the flight up and spend a couple of days in a place that you wouldn’t have otherwise had an opportunity to see.

The long flight home is much harder to take when the excitement of a fantastic holiday is not awaiting you at the end. It is however always nice to get home too.

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