Hi Amy! Thank you for getting in touch. Booking international flights can be very expensive and stressful as there are many factors to consider. However, knowing where to find the best deals, when to book and when to fly can considerably lower the price of your flights (as well as your blood pressure!). Here are my tips for interns booking international flights online.
1. Visit airfare search engines
The first place to look for cheap flights is discount websites such as Hipmunk, Skyscanner, Expedia, Kayak, Momondo, Dohop etc. which compare the prices of different airlines. This search will give you a good initial idea of the price range and possible routes to and from your destination. When browsing these websites you can find interesting tools which help you evaluate flight prices and timings. For example, Hipmunk outlines the lowest fares for the next 90 days on a visual chart. It may also be worth exploring alternative routes, for example, flying into Dublin from the US and then taking a discount flight to London or Madrid may be cheaper than taking a direct flight straight to that location. You can find this information on websites such as Flight Connections which offer all the possible flight paths from your destination. Before you book your flights, I would recommend checking discount airline and travel agent reviews online to ensure you are getting a good deal, especially if you do not know much about them. In addition, if there is only a small price difference between the travel agent, the discount website and the airline’s actual website, booking through the latter is more secure.
2. Know when to book
Airlines usually release their sales on Tuesdays or Wednesdays so you’re more likely to get better deals booking on these days. Equally less people will be booking on weekdays as opposed to a Saturday or Sunday night. However, to be sure you find the best available prices, I would recommend following the airlines on Twitter or signing up to their newsletters to be directly notified about their deals. There are also many online resources and blogs such as The Flight Deal and Nomadic Matt, which scour the web for great deals on your behalf! Nomadic Matt has a very helpful post about finding cheap flights. You may also find this Buzzfeed article on how to book cheap flights useful and entertaining.
3. Know when to fly
Just as with booking, try to find less popular flight days in order to increase your chances of finding reasonable prices. Usually Tuesdays and Saturdays are quiet as travellers and families like to make the most of the weekends. Be flexible with times. You are likely to find cheaper prices early in the morning or later at night. Discount airlines often fly to smaller airports which means they’re often farther out of the city. While this may be a nuisance for travelers, this won’t be a problem for you. Remember that once you arrive at your destination you won’t need to worry about public transport or taxis as The Intern Group will pick you straight up from the airport you fly into, whatever time it is.
4. Sign up for frequent flyer miles
Most of the major airlines belong to one of three large airline alliances: One World, Star Alliance and Sky Team. This means that you can accumulate or use your points on many different airlines. For example, I have a One World British Airways frequent flyer card, but I can use my miles when flying with the South American airline LAN since it is part of the same alliance. While this does not immediately provide you with cheap flights, it gives you many perks which can make a journey much more comfortable. Aside from using points to get cheaper flights in the future, frequent flyer cardholders can have priority on waitlists, check-ins and boarding, as well as access to Business class lounges.
5. Avoid additional costs
Some airlines charge extra if you choose your seats at the time of booking, so arrive early at the airport instead. Also, it may sound silly but knowing how to pack properly and efficiently can help reduce the overall cost of your international flight. You can get charged a fortune if you overpack or bring too many suitcases. I would suggest only bringing one big suitcase, carry-on and backpack. Avoid packing heavy boots, coats, toiletries, etc. and buy some cheap ones once arrived at your destination or wear them on the plane. Packing light will be a blessing especially if you plan to travel after your internship.
And once you’ve found a good deal, don’t question it and just book it as this price may not come around again! Good luck!