How to Find Cheap Flights and Save R750/$50

This post details various ways to find cheap flights, no matter where you’re flying from or to or your nationality, and includes a R750 ($50) discount on international flights and a R150 ($10) on domestic (South African) flights, thanks to my partnership with Online Travel Agency travelcheck.com. It’s interspersed with some of my favourite photos that will hopefully give you a real sense of wanderlust if you’re looking for flights, but are still unsure of where they’ll take you.

The scenario was simple. One of my work-related press trips was cancelled soon before I was due to leave and I had already planned two additional trips around it, one before and one after. I needed to book flights and fast. I always buy my own flights online either by using an Online Travel Agent (OTA) or by booking directly via an airline’s website — I am yet to learn the intricacies of rewards and points. I usually book a flight after hours of trawling the internet and comparing prices across various websites, as well as any seasonal deals I might happen upon.

This time I didn’t really have the luxury of time though, so I reached out to a number of South African travel agents — some big and well known around the country and others one-man shows that I had never heard of — to help me find the best deal.

Marseille
Marseille: France’s oldest city, as seen from the water during my trip in March 2019.

Long story short, the prices the travel agents quoted me were between R11 018 and R1 399 more than the first flight I initially searched on travelcheck.com, which landed up being the one I bought.

And that was before I deducted the Travelcheck R750 flight discount. I was eligible to use it twice across my three flights and saved R1 500 all in all. I thought this would make a really good real-life case study because let’s face it, everyone loves to save money that they can put towards their holiday spend. So, I wanted to share the flight quotes I received from various travel agents, and how I managed to find much cheapest flights without it being too time consuming.

I partnered with Travelcheck.com last year to offer my followers flight discounts of R750 on international flights and R150 on local flights (more about that later), but didn’t post or promote anything until I had used my own money to book flights, so that I was confident to promote it as a service I used personally.

One of Udaipur’s many lakes

Before you start, clear your cookies and cache

It’s simple and here’s why you ought to do it. Many airline websites monitor your browsing activity to see if you’ve visited their website in the past and which flight routes you’ve searched. They do this by using browser cookies for dynamic pricing, in which flight prices fluctuate according to demand.

When looking for cheap flights use Incognito Mode

Always use incognito mode. If you use a Google Chrome browser, click ‘file’ and open up an ‘Incognito Window’. This will allow you to browse the internet privately, which means that Chrome won’t save your cookies and website data. Search engines use cookies to show higher airfares on routes that have been searched often, so essentially multiple searches push up the price.

Gay-friendly African countries
The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles is made up of 115 islands.

The cheapest day to book domestic (South African) flights

The cheapest day to book a domestic flight is on Tuesday, with Wednesday a close second. Fridays and Sundays are the most expensive days to book domestic flights. Avoid booking right before public and school holidays. Also keep an eye out for local events, such as the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, Iron Man, The Comrades Marathon or the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, when flights will be more expensive. February and August are the cheapest months to fly locally because they fall outside of South Africa’s peak holiday season.

The cheapest day and time to book international flights

Wednesday morning at 1AM is the best time to buy international airline tickets. Tuesday is the second cheapest day to buy your tickets. Avoid booking tickets on Sundays, as this is the most expensive day to buy international flight tickets, probably as most people have the time to search for flights. On average, you will pay around 10% more when booking on a Sunday rather than booking mid-week.

Avoid travelling to destinations that are hosting world-famous festivals and events, such as Lunar New Year in Asia, Paris Fashion Week, The Rio Carnival, India’s Holi Festival, Germany’s Oktoberfest, as well as thanksgiving and spring break in the USA, as you’re bound to pay a peak season surcharge and encounter crowds and serious cases of overtourism.

Flight prices also depend on your destination and its specific high or low seasons, but generally the cheapest months to fly out of South Africa to international destinations are May, October and November.

Poland
My motherland of Poland is home to 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Look for Public holiday discounts

Most people fly a week before and after major holidays. You can find great deals by flying on important holidays, such as Christmas Eve or Day, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve. And there are usually really good flight deals on Friday the 13th, as many people are superstitious and avoid flying on those days. Also, you’re likely to find the cheapest tickets at around 80-90 days and 210 days before your departure date.

Here’s an additional tip when searching for cheap flights

Booking an afternoon flight is cheaper than a morning flight, which is when most business travellers fly.

Andros
The Grecian island of Andros is ideal for a walking holiday between its villages and beaches.

Here’s how to get discounts on domestic and international flights with Travelcheck.com

Travelcheck is South Africa’s newest Online Travel Agency (OTA). It uses Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to help you find the cheapest flights on any airline. You can mix and match airlines and destinations based on the cheapest price by using their Open Jaw feature. For example, say you’re flying to Poland with Airline A, but find a cheaper return flight with Airline B — you can choose the cheapest ones. And you can also fly to Destination A (let’s say Marseille) but return from Destination B (let’s assume Greece), and you won’t incur the additional costs that are usually associated with changing arrival and destinations.

I have partnered with www.travelcheck.co.za to offer discounts on local and international flights. They are valid for any nationality, even if you don’t live in or plan to travel to South Africa. You can use my promo codes at checkout (in the voucher field just before you make a payment) with every new booking you make.

Use promo code ‘eagerjourneysint’ for R750 off all international flights.

Use promo code ‘eagerjourneysdom’ for R150 off all domestic (South African) flights.

Travelcheck’s book now, pay later feature

Travelcheck also offers a ‘book now, pay later’ payment option, which allows you to pay off your flight (up to R8 000) in up to three installments, over three months., if you pass the credit check.

Ethiopia
Ethiopia, also known as the Land of Origins, remains one of my favourite countries.

If you’re booking with a travel agent compare the prices with an online travel agency

While sometimes you can really find great deals through travel agents, especially if they are running seasonal, Black Friday, year-end deals, it’s also worth doing your own research. Be flexible with your flight dates when approaching a travel agency for the best deals.

I’m travelling to three destinations in the Middle East and did a little bit of simple ground work before posting on a travel Facebook group asking for flight quotes from travel agents. First off, I assumed (correctly) that the Johannesburg to Dubai route would be the cheapest as it is a regional hub.
 
Here’s a summary of the flight request I sent to the travel agents.
 
I sent them the duration of my trip, which included travel days, and provided the earliest and the latest dates I could leave on. I requested two international flights getting me from and back to Joburg and only one regional flight as I would also take a bus. And I sent four possible travel itineraries.
 
The most expensive travel agent quote I received was from a large nationwide travel agent (I don’t want to name names). While they were great in sending me quotes on all four of the destinations I requested, and quickly, they did away with the bus route, as I had requested, and replaced those with regional flights, or the regional flights they selected were mostly through Dubai, which naturally drove up the price and would have been a huge time schlep and not very practical. The cheapest of the four itineraries they sent me was for R18 848 and the most expensive was R19 868. To be honest, at this stage I thought my time would be better spent refining the search myself. 
 
The cheapest travel agent quote I received (R12 930 including taxes on Egypt Air) was from Wendy at Travel at Ease, a small travel agency I had never even heard of. And I commend them because the other flight quotes I received were much higher. Another travel agent was able to almost match the cost I found on Travelcheck within R1000, after he shared his initial quote and I shared the flight details I had found on travelcheck.com.
 

The flights I found through Travelcheck.com were cheaper than any prices a travel agent found, and the layovers as well as departure and arrival times were decent. My return international flights to/from two different cities/countries came to R8850 – R750 = R8100. While my one way regional flight came to R2681 – R750 = R1931. So a total of R10 031.

Reunion
Reunion Island is where you’ll find one of the world’s most active shield volcanoes.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I was not paid to publish any of this. If you book a flight through travelcheck.com I will receive a small commission as part of my partnership, however it will, in no way, affect the cost of your flight.

Iga Motylska

Iga Motylska is a Johannesburg-based freelance writer, photojournalist, sub-editor and blogger. She is published in numerous local and international publications, including: Forbes Africa, Forbes Woman Africa, Forbes Life Africa, CNBC Africa, Ventures Africa, Marie Claire, Sawubona, AA Traveller, Fastjet inflight magazine and Seoul Magazine among numerous others. Her editorial interests range from documenting the entrepreneurial spirit to women's and human rights issues, environmental affairs and of course travel writing.

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