Happy New Year and welcome to 2017! I remember when i started thinking about this trip, that at this point in time everything is going to be organised and everything is going to be organised, and planned, and set up and i will have 6 months to just sit back and get excited about the trip…..
WRONG! Oh how how wrong i was…. I have literally bought (most of) my flights and one lot of accomodation (there are 11 lots to buy)… So there is not going be sit back and get excited going on. A lot of getting excited, but not much sitting back.
So over a few posts, i thought i might tell you some tips that i have found already, and go through how the planning has been done. So if you are planning a trip you have some sort of an idea about what the expect, and a little about what NOT to do, and you have a more realistic (from my experience) point of reference. So here we go….
The flights were always the part that excited me the most. There was a lot of them, and at the start i was thinking of adding to the trip with stopovers, and could fly with who i wanted to fly with. I really wanted the flights to not just be the (main) mode of transport, but another dimension of the trip. Also, i knew they were going to cost me a shit load of cash so wanted to make sure i got the most out of it.
TIP: The more you know, the more you save (Be careful of marketing!)
The original plan for the flights was to get a round the world ticket. I figured that this would be the cheapest option and i would maybe add in a few smaller flights to save the legs. This was also before 2017 flights had come out, and used the original plan that hit USA, but not china, and hit only Sochi in Russia. When i priced it as best i could, the price was going to be $5500.. Usually this would have been prohibitive, but i was a long way off the trip (14,5 months) so i just factored that into the price.
Through discussions with seasoned flyers (specifically my boss at the time) i re did the flights but using single one way flights. This way i could use carriers that were not in the same airline partnership to reduce the price. This also meant i didn’t need to go through America. (Nothing wrong with gong through US, but it just added $$$ and time to the trip). Again, by planning the trip as close as i could to the time (remembering flights were not out for the time i was flying (originally mid August), I hit up Skyscanner, did a little bit of “research” on the airlines i chose and got the price down to $3,900…. THIS was huge! Straight away i refused to spend more than $4000 on airfares for the trip.
And a RTW airfare was OUT!
TIP: Know what you want (and this will change with research!)
I was on Skyscanner constantly for the next couple of months, and checking out the available flight routes and possible options. These options took me into Finland, Czech Republic, Dubai, Canada, and all manner of other places with stopovers anywhere form 2 hours to 24 hours… Although amazing to have some great extra stops on the trip, it ended up eating days out of an already tight schedule.
Another thing that i was stuck on for the flights is that i MUST go one direction around the world. Maybe it was a legacy from the original RTW trip or what, i’m not sure, but up until the time i actually booked the flights, i was going one way around the world flying from Auckland to London.
Cost was always in mind regardless of what it was that i wanted out of the flights. Although, sometimes cost was the least important, at other times, cost was the most important thing.
When it came to booking the flights there was a balance found between cost, and as few possible stopovers, but when they were necessary, not too long to eat into time, but not too short to increase the possibility of missed flights.
For example: I could have flown straight from Paris to St Petersburg direct with Air France in just over 3 hours for $470. Or i can fly with British Airways which will take me 6 hours (1.5 hour stopover in Heathrow) for just under $300….
Reversing the direction of the Auckland to London flight through Doha with Qatar Airways (instead of through LA with Air NZ and Virgin), Saved me almost $400 on that flight alone!
TIP: Be open to possibilities
This is a piece of advice for travel as a whole not just your flights, or other bookings.
Although i was adamant that i was going to fly one way around the world, and direct from Moscow to Beijing, and a million other things, once i dropped these and became open to there possibilities, it opened up a whole world of (cheaper and better) options.
Surprisingly, once i let go of these “non negotiables” i ended up with higher quality airlines for a lot cheaper. Before discovering Skytrax, i would not have even known (and therefore flown) with Qatar or Hainan Airways. But these two arilines are actually rated the highest of all airlines with a 5 star rating (Equivalent to All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, and Garuda Indonesia).
So with a perfect balance of time and cost, with a higher level of airlines, the flights i ended up getting cost me $3000 (almost exactly). The airlines i will fly are:
Jetstar, Air NZ, Qatar, British Airways, UTair (Russia), S7, Hainan, Air China, China Eastern, Tiger, Air Asia, and Virgin Australia.
TIP: Make life changes if you need to
I’m not talking move house, or sell your children, but sometimes a few little changes can results in huge gains.
To further reduce these fairs, i got a new credit card (was going to do this anyway) that was designed for travellers, that provides a free return domestic Virgin airfare yearly (used for the Cairns leg), and i can also use my points to acquire Air New Zealand AirPoints (The Queenstown to Auckland flights)
To free up money for the trip as a whole, i got a personal loan at a lower interest rate (over a longer period of time) and consolidated my debt.
You don’t need to go to these lengths for every trip you do but if it increases the enjoyment of your trip, why not?
So, a little bit/ a lot of planning, a bit of compromise on certain things, and time can really save you a fortune on your flights. It is totally worth the time invested to save a shit load of cash,
What are your best tips for getting the most out of your flights? Let us know on the Facebook page or comment below.
More coming soon!