Clear the air: Breaking myths on air travel bookings

  • Sneha Mahale, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 09, 2015 12:37 IST
We get travel experts and frequent flyers to bust some myths associated with booking airline tickets online.

An increasing number of flash sales, along with frequent trips taken by Indians to travel within the country as well as abroad, have given rise to several misconceptions around air travel.

Is there a golden hour to snag the best deals? Or, do low-cost carriers always offer the most competitive prices? We get travel experts and frequent flyers to bust some myths associated with booking airline tickets online.

A round trip on the same airline is cheaper

Before the entry of low-cost carriers, an airline’s revenue management worked strictly on a return-fare basis. “Passengers would often find that a return ticket would be cheaper than buying a one way-ticket. The entry of low-cost carriers broke these pricing practices.

Today, low-cost carriers price their fares as individual legs, where a one-way ticket is priced independently from a return, and thus, could be cheaper. More and more full-service carriers have been forced to adopt these pricing models, thus allowing customers to pick and choose their flight combinations, without necessarily paying a premium for one-way travel,” says Andrew Wong, regional director, TripAdvisor Flights, Asia Pacific.

Tickets are cheapest at a particular time of the day or a week

Excluding flash fare reductions, airfares are affected by two things for any given route map — seasonality and seat availability. “Ticket prices are naturally lower in the off-season, when there are fewer people travelling, and they are higher in the holiday season due to increased passenger load. Also, prices are inversely proportional to seat availability — prices are lower when more seats are available, and vice versa. The belief that fares are cheaper on a particular day or time holds no actual weight,” says Sankalp Agarwal, CEO and co-founder, TravelTriangle.

Wong, however, adds that savvy shoppers should try to book flights around noon, when higher-paying business travellers have already arrived at their destination. “Mid-week departures may yield better fares. And, if a weekend trip can include a Saturday return, instead of a more desirable Sunday evening, a bargain may be found,” he says.

You always have the choice of booking a one-way ticket

While this might be true for domestic flights, it might not always be the case when travelling overseas. “There are countries that can and will refuse visitors entry without proof of a return ticket. So, depending on where you are heading, make it a point to check up on this,” says Varun Grover, lawyer and frequent flyer.

You can book tickets more than a year in advance

Current systems are really only built to help you book tickets up to a year in advance. Although you can reserve tickets beyond 365 days, “you will have to wait for it to get confirmed, and for the price to be announced. Plus, there is no guarantee that it will be cheaper,” says Sunita Shah, a sales executive and frequent flyer.

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