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Some of us travel by airline frequently, others of us infrequently but the one thing most travellers share is the need to feel comfortable, looked after and above all know we haven't paid too much for the privilege.

Most people would be surprised if they interviewed each passenger on an airline to find out how much each person actually paid for their flight ticket, regardless of whether it's a high-grade or budget carrier. If this happened you would no doubt find that some passengers on a high-grade carrier would have paid less than some on a budget carrier.

You can only dream of the days when we all paid the same but those days are gone forever. It's a game these days and you have to learn how to play it if you're going to land yourself that cheap ticket that gives you bragging rights among your other cabin colleagues.

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The biggest saving grace is that we now have the internet at our fingertips where we can go online and visit the various websites offering budget prices. You don't have to restrict yourself to advertisers specialising in budget prices either, because the airlines themselves play the same game.

If you have a favourite airline that you have travelled on before and have received good service you don't have to rough it in a budget airline to get a lower fare if you go about it the right way. If saving money on your next flight is what you're looking for you could find the following tips useful:

  • Don't neglect the cost of getting to and from the airport in the first place. This has become a major part of the cost of flying in recent years. It can often be cheaper to share a taxi with somebody else than take the airport bus. Some accommodation places offer a free service to and from the airport and this is worth remembering when booking your accommodation. Taking your own car and parking it in the airport car park can be a good move if you're flying out of a smaller airport but quite prohibitive, cost wise, in the major city airports. It's worth doing your research on these costs just as much as it is in buying the best priced ticket.
  • Book your flight as early as possible. The further out you are from the date you plan on flying the more chance you'll have of getting a cheaper flight, especially if you're dealing direct with the airline itself. Budget travel agents buy their cheap flights in bulk from the airlines at an early date. They then go about reselling these seats to their customers. You too can get the advantage of a cheaper seat if you book early. If you're a regular traveller you'll already have seen seat prices increase as it gets closer to the flight leaving. Sometime quite large increases in a matter of hours, even minutes as the plane fills.
  • Run the risk of standby. If you're not in a hurry to get to your destination and you don't mind waiting, you can take the opposite approach and wait until the plane is practically ready to leave to take advantage of stand-by fares. These are sometimes available if a booked in passenger has failed to show or if the plane looks like leaving with empty seats. It can be a bit of a lottery but it does provide cheap flying.
  • Cut back on the amount of luggage you're carrying. This is particularly important if you're flying on a low price carrier. Luggage is one of the biggest problems airlines have. The heavier the total baggage weight, the more fuel the plane uses and the more it costs the airline to make the flight. The extra baggage you're carrying might not seem like a lot to you but when multiplied by the number of passengers on the same flight it can amount to quite a heavy weight. Airlines charge a lot for excess baggage, some as much as the seat ticket itself, therefore, if you keep your extra baggage to a minimum you will save a considerable amount on your ticket price.
  • Be flexible about the day and time you wish to travel. You only have to browse through any airline’s flight prices and you'll see a marked difference in price for certain days of the week and the time of day the flight takes place. Prices are higher on peak travel days, most commonly the start and end of the week and lower in the middle of the week. It's much the same with the time of day you want to fly. Overnight or early in the morning flights are usually the cheapest. You might arrive to an empty airport with no coffee shops open but you will have saved a packet on the flight cost. Midnight on Tuesdays is usually the cheapest if it fits into your travel plans. If you can't make that one try daybreak on Wednesdays.
  • Check prices in and out of nearby airports. Just because an airport is close to where you are doesn't mean it's the cheapest place to fly out from. Some airlines flying out of the smaller regional airports seem to charge extra for the convenience. It could pay you to travel to a major airport that has a much larger passenger throughput to get a cheaper fare. This can sometimes be hundreds of dollars in difference. Well worth the extra travelling.
  • When researching your flight costs check travel agent sites as well as the airline's own site. It's all about comparing prices. If you've left it a bit late in making your booking the airline site might be escalating seat prices as you watch but if you check out a travel agent you could get lucky and they could still have a vacancy available they want to get rid of. It's a bit like being in the right place at the right time but it’s worth a try.
  • Know what to expect for the price you pay. A budget airline works on the principle of flying you from point A to point B at the lowest price possible. It doesn't normally include your luggage. Although you might be offered a very low price for your seat the luggage you carry could be twice that amount, sometimes even more. You don't usually receive any refreshment on the way, not even if your flight takes in a meal time. All frills are trimmed to make the flight as cheap as possible and there is always the possibility of the flight being cancelled at the last minute if too many seats aren't filled. On the other hand, a more up market airline will offer you refreshments during the flight and be more flexible with the amount of luggage you can carry with you. It's all about what you expect from such a service and how far you're willing to go to get to your destination at the lowest price.
  • Watch out for hidden costs. Even though an airline booking might appear to be rather cheap at first glance take a closer look before you commit yourself. Some airlines only quote the bare basic cost of the seat on the plane which can be quite misleading when you come to add on all the other costs they require you to pay before you can secure the seat. For instance there are certain government taxes involved, airport fees, extra charges if you pay by credit card (try paying otherwise) but the impost still remains. Extra charges apply if you want to book a particular seat, extra baggage, carbon costs, insurance etc. It all adds up after a while and the cheap seat you thought you had can become quite expensive in no time.

It is possible to get cheap flight if you go about it the right way, but to do so you'll have to throw away any loyalty you may have with any one specific airline. Where one airline might be the cheapest today a completely different airline might offer a cheaper seat tomorrow.

This even happens between different brands of the same airline. Flight costs are continually moving around and their increasing amounts can be quite confusing. The one constant is that the earlier you can make your booking the lower will be the price you'll be charged and it's all up from there.

You can affect the price you pay by the amount of luggage you carry. If you are willing to fly during outlandish hours you can also be rewarded. If circumstances are such that you are willing to wait for a stand-by rate you could also come out ahead but the one thing you don't want to do is to get yourself included among the high-paying business customers who take the pickings at the most convenient hours with all the trimmings.

The higher prices are based around this type of flyer who gets a tax deduction for his or her effort. You won't be so lucky.

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