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How you can save on your airline ticket

Low-cost airlines follow a process of yielding their flights.

Low-cost airlines follow a process of yielding their flights.

Published Oct 7, 2016


Johannesburg - We all know that flights are generally more expensive over peak periods, but Kirby Gordon, Head of Sales & Distribution at FlySafair, explains that there are still great savings to be had by booking early.


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Early bird gets the worm

Low-cost airlines follow a process of yielding their flights. What this means is that the first seats on an aircraft always sell at the airline’s best price, and the seat prices go up incrementally as the flights fill up. More popular flights tend to fill up faster, which means that the prices go up faster, but the fact remains that those who book ahead generally score the cheapest tickets.

“Airlines actually sell their first few tickets at a loss when one compares the cost to operate a seat versus the fare charged, which means that we only start to make a profit for the flight on the last few seats sold,” explains Gordon.

By way of example, we looked at flights departing from Johannesburg to Cape Town in December 2015. Customers who booked flights in December on short notice paid the highest fares. Those who booked the month before, in November, saved 32 percent. Customers who booked two months early, in October, saved 40 percent, while the real early birds, who booked in May, saved a whopping 64 percent.

“We usually advocate three golden rules for getting a cheap ticket,” explains Gordon. The first is most certainly to book as early as possible.


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Be flexible

The second rule is to be flexible with your dates and times. Weekend flights and those at the start of school holidays, for example, are popular so they fill up fast and prices rise quickly. Deal hunters can often get a great fare on less popular flights, like those during the week or the middle of the day.


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Travel light

The third golden rule is to travel light. Many airlines tell you that your checked-in luggage is free, but the truth is that it’s factored into the airfare.

At FlySafair, we decided to rather give people the option to pay separately for checked luggage, only if they need it. About 64 percent of passengers don’t actually take a checked bag, rather making use of the 7kg allowance of cabin baggage, which means both savings and less hassle at the airport.

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Based on last year’s figures, there are still savings to be had if you book your December flight today. But now that the secret’s out, you’ll have to move quickly!

Adapted from a press release for IOL

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