Cheap airfare deals: The 10 best ways to get a cheap flight

MAKING THE UPGRADE

Upgrades usually come at a stiff price but Optiontown sells unsold business class seats aboard Air Asia and several other international carriers at a huge discount. Individual bookings are more likely to succeed than a group or family, and you might have to wait until you're in the queue at the check-in desk to receive confirmation. See optiontown.com

See also: How to get an airline upgrade

FLY ON THE QUIET

Demand for seats fluctuates, and you can use this cycle to buy yourself a cheaper seat. Between cities with healthy business traffic, midweek flights in the middle of the day are usually the cheapest. Use a flight search engine such as Momondo that gives you day-by-day prices, or Kayak, which sends you an alert if the price changes. See momondo.com.au; kayak.com.au

See also: The best time to book a cheap flight

BOOK YOURSELF A BARGAIN

Most airlines release seats and open their bookings 11 months before flight time and the cheapest "earlybird" seats are the first to go. Book well in advance and you'll save, airlines have become experts at filling their planes. The days when you could count on a late-breaking, red-hot deal are well and truly over. If the Aussie dollar continues its downward trajectory, an early booking may give you more reasons to cheer.

See also: Aussies winners in US airfare price war

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STRETCH OUT FOR LESS

Singapore Airlines' economy class preferred seats come with many centimetres of extra leg-stretch room and they're some of the cheapest exit row seats around. The airline charges $US40 ($55) for a preferred seat on a Singapore-Australia flight, $US60 will get you the same from Singapore all the way to Europe. Book online. See singaporeair.com

See also: Flight test - Singapore Airlines economy

BREAK IT UP

Flying long haul? It can be cheaper to book sector-by-sector rather than a single ticket that takes you all the way through, for example one ticket from Melbourne to Hong Kong and another from Hong Kong to your final destination. Remember though, you might have to pass through customs and immigration, collect your bags from one flight and check in on another. If so, leave plenty of time between connecting flights. 

See also: How to travel the world on $50 a day

KNOW YOUR LIMITS

Budget airlines make much of their revenue from travellers who show up at the check-in desk with baggage and carry-ons in excess of the allowance. They rigidly enforce their limits and if you pay for any extra baggage allowance you may need when you make your booking you'll save. Wait until you get to the airport and if you're over, the penalties might end up costing more than your air ticket.

See also: Ten essential tips for packing light

THE RUB ON HUBS

Competition between airlines is fierce at busy airport hubs, and that keeps prices lower than at smaller airports that are served by just a few airlines. In Europe and the US especially, if you bus or train to the nearest major airport rather than flying out of a regional airport you should be able to travel at a much cheaper price.

See also: How to make airports work for you

THE LOWDOWN ON LOW FARES

Although it lacks the bells and whistles of some airfare search engines, ITA Matrix Airfare Search is the go-to fare search engine for many travel professionals. Type in your route, the extreme ends of the dates for your outward and return flights, check the "see calendar of lowest fares" box and back comes a graphic with the cheapest fares available on every day within your time frame. See matrix.itasoftware.com

See also: Skytrax names the world's best airports

SNOOZE CONTROL

The Guide to Sleeping in Airports website is a must-read for anyone facing a long airport stopover and looking to inject some comfort into the ordeal without busting the budget. Best seats, quiet zones, free internet, tips from other passengers – this is a goldmine for the cost-conscious traveller. Singapore's Changi Airport consistently ranks in pole position for travellers looking to sack out between flights. See sleepinginairports.net.

See also: World's ten best airports to sleep in

LOCK AND LOAD

Lock in the price of your air ticket with STA Travel's Airfare Deposit Program. Pay a non-refundable deposit of $300 and you can pay the balance just seven days before flight time. Qantas offers Book Now, Pay Later. Pay a $25 holding deposit and your seat is secured, but the deal does not apply to all seats on all flights, and the final price may change if taxes, fees and Qantas' charges rise. See statravel.com; qantas.com.au

See also: Australia's most complained about airline

See also: Best airlines across all classes named

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