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Book in advance to beat rising airfares

Advance ticket purchase say a month or three weeks prior to the departure date can get you a great deal so is buying a ticket at the last minute, writes Lalatendu Mishra.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2008 23:10 IST
Lalatendu Mishra

Air travel may have got more expensive, but let that not stop you from getting good bargains on your air ticket.

Even as airlines increase fares to offset mounting losses, they will still dole out nearly 20 per cent of their seats at discounted rates to stimulate growth and improve revenue. The idea is to know exactly when and how these tickets would be up for grabs. As a result, advance ticket purchase say a month or three weeks prior to the departure date can get you a great deal so is buying a ticket at the last minute (few hours before flight departure).

“Even though airlines have cut down over capacity by 15 per cent, 30 per cent of seats are still flying empty.” said Kapil Kaul, CEO (India), Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

“The main challenge before airlines would be to sell these seats.”

Take the example of Jet Airways, which on Thursday launched a discounted fare scheme called Apex-21 through which passengers can book tickets 21 days before departure date at attractive rates. All airlines are likely to announce such schemes in the coming days.

Several travel portals also offer the best available deals at one place. If you have some time at hand, you can also try airline websites.

Airlines are also known to slash the rates of unsold tickets at the last moment to exhaust the inventory. These can be available at auction sites and sometimes at airline counters.

For the price sensitive traveller who doesn’t care much for onboard food can always opt for budget airlines where fare is cheaper by around Rs 1,000 compared with full service carriers. “Airlines do have fluctuating yield management to improve revenue and a flyer must know the best time to buy at the best price,” said Stuart Crighton, CEO, Cleartrip.com, a leading travel portal. “Every third day we put out best available fares on our website and many have benefitted.”

Almost all travel portals normally have a calendar detailing the cheapest available fares and one has to visit the sites regularly to choose the fare that suits the pocket.