Guides: Making the Most of Early Bird Flight Deals

Early Bird Deals

As the European summer ends (or is ending), it is time to start thinking about that early bird deals and the big trip to the European summer (or the US) for next year.

When is the best time to book flights?

For those wanting to travel to Europe/US during the summer months (June-August), early bird sale tickets start as early as September-October, but if you miss that out, there is usually a second release in January to February. Note there are exceptions with blackout dates during the peak summer dates (2 weeks during late June to early July to coincide with winter school holidays). For the savvy traveler, departures in May or September are smart months to travel in as the weather is good (in most places) and you avoid the crowds and the high accommodation prices.

For those winter enthusiasts, the best time to visit is during December to February and the best time to book flight is during March to May. Again blackout periods apply with the week leading up to Christmas and the days following that.

Early Bird

 

Plan Early

Book early as possible! Airlines will always increase their ticket prices, as they base their ticket prices on a sliding scale, meaning the greatest savings are to be had early on and this gets diminished over time as the cheaper seats sell out.

Be Flexible

Savings can be made from not just flexible travel dates but also the destination, as sometimes certain destinations are cheaper than others. To take advantage of this, is to consider open jaw ticketing, – which is where you fly into one city and depart from another. The following European cities when combined into an open jaw ticket, can lead to savings. –

Europe

  • Dublin

  • Barcelona

  • Amsterdam

  • Copenhagen

  • Milan

  • Istanbul

Some of the more expensive European cities are –

  • London

  • Frankfurt

  • Munich

  • Paris

If you are planning to include London (or any destination in the UK for that matter) in your trip, it is best advised to start there first and then finish in mainland Europe. By doing this you avoid paying the UK Air Passenger Duty (departure tax dependent on how far you are travelling and in what class) – though children under the age of 16 travelling in economy are exempt from this.

Available Options to get to Europe

The cheapest early bird flights to Europe is with a budget airline such as Scoot via Singapore (with bags and meals additional). The drawback is the choice of destinations in Europe is limited to just two – Athens and Berlin.

The cheapest full service airlines to get you to Europe are the Chinese carriers. These range from China Southern (based in Guangzhou), Air China (Beijing) and China Eastern (Shanghai). While the fare can be cheap (sometimes in the $700’s for return flights), the drawback is often lengthy transit stays in either Beijing/Shanghai/Guangzhou. Though this can be compensated via a free visa-free stopover (of up to 72 hours) allowing you to extend your layover into a couple of days of exploring Beijing/Shanghai/Guangzhou.

At the far end of the price scale is your premium airlines such as Cathay Pacific/Qantas/Emirates/Qatar Airways/Etihad/Singapore Airlines. The latter four in particular offer discounted hotel stays in Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Singapore respectively to try and entice travelers to breakup their trip and spend a few days there –

  • Emirates Dubai stopover program offers exclusive rates for accommodation and tourist attractions. For more on this visit here.

  • Qatar’s Doha stopover program offers accommodation packages from as little as $23 USD. For more on this visit here.

  • Etihad’s currently have stopover deal that include a free two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi when you book a multi-city flight before 1 December 2019 (further conditions apply). For more on this visit here.

  • Singapore Airlines offers a range of sizzling stopover deals which includes discounted admission to key tourist attractions. For more on this visit here.

If you have a long transit (usually 7 hours or more) several airports offer free city tours –

  • Taipei – These 4 hour guided tours are deal for those flying with either Eva Air or China Airlines. For more on this visit here.

  • Seoul – Specific interest related 5 hour tours such as Shopping, Adventure, Culture etc. These are best booked when flying either Korean Airlines or Asiana. For more on this visit here.

  • Tokyo – These half day tours are limited to those transiting through Narita Airport. For more on this visit here.

Early Bird

 

Available Options to get to USA/Canada

With early bird flights to USA/Canada, competition between Australia and USA in particular is fierce (excluding flights to Hawaii) and even in peak times, reasonably priced flights can be found quite easily. The obvious choices are Qantas, Virgin Australia, United, Delta & American Airlines.

US City (Direct Flight)

Airline

From (Australian City)

Los Angeles

Qantas

Virgin Australia

United

Delta

American

Sydney

Melbourne

Brisbane

San Francisco

Qantas

United

Sydney

Melbourne

Brisbane

Dallas

Qantas

Sydney

Houston

United

Sydney

Chicago*

Qantas

Brisbane

Honolulu

Qantas

Hawaiian Airlines

Sydney

Brisbane

* Qantas nonstop flights to Chicago are set to commence on 20 April 2020

For those price conscious flyers who don’t mind a transit stop there are several options available. Flights with Air New Zealand is the pick of the bunch as it is the only airline that offers convenient one stop flights from the most Australian cities (6 – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide & Perth).

The cheapest option (on a continuous basis) is Fiji Airways with the added bonus of a complimentary two night free stopover in Fiji (for more please visit here).

Another airline that offers complimentary stopovers is Air Canada. For Australian passengers, Vancouver is the obvious Canadian city to take up this option on, as all Air Canada flights from Australia land there first. Here if your transit time is more than 6 hours in length, you can enjoy a night’s accommodation from $49 CAD (for more on this visit here).

For those flying on Hawaiian Airlines to mainland USA, it is relatively cheap to stopover in Honolulu for a few days with the add on price usually between $50-$100. From there flights to the surrounding Hawaiian islands can be done relatively cheaply as well.

Less popular are cheap flights with Philippine Airlines/Korean Airlines/Asiana, but as you may have guessed they all involve rather long detours, with the same applying for similar flights with the Chinese mainland airlines.

Premium Options

Also don’t forget it’s not just economy class that gets the cheap deals. There are often cheap early bird deals in Premium Economy, Business Class & First Class. For instance, with flights to both Europe there is excellent value to be had flying with some of the lesser known airlines – such as Asiana/Korean/China Airlines/Eva Air. All of which offer lie flat seats in Business Class, a member of a major airline alliance (great for status credit & points accumulation) and in EVA Air case a 5 star rated airline (according to Skytrax).

With Premium Economy/Business Class/First Class flights to the USA/Canada, both Fiji Airways & Air New Zealand in particular offer great value with these sale fare, where you can regularly find Business Class flights in the low $4000’s and premium economy fares in the early $2000’s. Air New Zealand premium economy is considered on the of the best in the world and has regularly won awards (check out our review on it here)

 

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