How to find discount airline tickets and book cheap flights to Asia
Blessed with great weather, amazing food, friendly people, beautiful scenery and fascinating culture, Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, China and Japan have rightly become a popular travel destination for tourists from the USA, UK and rest of Europe.
Although the significantly lower prices in most Asian countries will allow you to stretch your budget once your there, the biggest chunk of your holiday fund will no doubt be spent on the long-haul flight to get there.
Prices of flights can vary widely between airlines and even on the same flight – it’s probably that you’ll end up paying a totally different price to the person sitting next to you on the plane.
Luckily these days it is pretty easy to find good flight deals on the Internet, usually cheaper than you’ll get going through a travel agent, provided you’re willing to spend a little extra time searching for the best flight deal for you.
Find cheap flights with flight search websites - Screenscrapers
Sites such as Skyscanner and Kayak are a good place to start. These sites will search a variety of airline websites based on data you enter (arrival and departure dates, number of passengers, whether you want a direct flight or not etc) and return a list of matching flights sorted by price.
It’s worth playing around with your dates on these sites as you can sometimes find a significantly cheaper flight just a day or two out from your original dates. If exact dates aren’t important to you experiment with dates a week or two either side or select ‘flexible dates’ if the site allows this.
Get discount flight deals with flightbrokers
Try searching sites such as Expedia and Opodo for flight deals that you may not be able to find via the flight search websites. This is also a good option if you’re looking for more of a ‘package deal’ as they often offer discounts for flights and hotels booked together.
Book direct with the airline website for special offers
Frequently airlines have special deals which aren’t always picked up by the flight search websites (eg if they’re only valid for certain dates which are just outside your search). By visiting their websites you’ll be alerted to any special offers and can search directly – most of them have user friendly searches that display a grid of available prices so you can see when is the cheapest time to fly.
Try different route variations
Some destinations, like Bangkok, have pretty cheap direct flights but if you’re going somewhere that requires a change of flight try searching for the different legs of your journey separately to see if you can find a cheaper way of doing it – for example if you’re flying to Bali it may be cheaper to change flights in Kuala Lumpur rather than Singapore. There are also several budget airlines operating out of Asia so If you can find a good deal to a ‘hub’ such as Singapore, you can usually pick up another flight to your final destination for peanuts.
It’s also worth signing up for newsletters if you fly fairly regularly or you’re keeping an eye out for a future deal. Sometimes these deals are such good value that they get snapped up straight away and you’ll be one of the first to know if you get the newsletter.
Try searching the sites of British Airways, Emirates, KLM and Air France for deals direct from the airline.
Some of the budget airlines in Asia are now offering long-haul routes, for example Air Asia now flies from London to Kuala Lumpur. It’s worth a look to see what sort of price you can get however don’t be tricked into thinking this is your cheapest option. If you have to get a connecting flight on top then there’s probably not many savings to be had. Also consider the service you’re likely to get on these flights and if it’s really worth it for a 12 hour flight!
An important tip
Remember to read the wording on whatever website you’re using before making a booking. Sometimes they’ll sneakily not include tax on advertised prices, making flights look amazingly cheap until you come to the end of the booking process. Also make sure there aren’t any other hidden ‘extras’ such as travel insurance or baggage fees (these are common with budget airlines).
Enjoy your flight and have a great holiday!