Do you still remember the first flight you ever took? I remember all the preparations, nerves etc that were present when embarking on my first flight ever, at the ripe age of 25 nogal. If you’re anything like me, anxiety would have you book a flight, work out your “route” and set time aside for goodbyes way in advance. My first flight was when I uprooted my life and moved to Johannesburg almost six years ago. Fortunately the company I was scheduled to start working for, handled everything, all I had to do was show up.
My second flight was from Johannesburg to George at a time when there was only one airline in South Africa covering that route. I booked a few days before I was scheduled to leave and the ticket was almost R2000! I arrived on time but was directed to the wrong place and missed my flight. I ended up spending another R2000 because I had to get home for a wedding (the things you’d do for family). My relationship with flying was quite stormy and turbulent (pun intended) in the beginning with missed flights and general anxiety so I had to figure out a way to make it easier on myself as I had to fly at least twice a year to see my mom. My most used route is definitely Johannesburg to Cape Town and according to Travelstart, it’s one of the busiest route in the world! How you like them apples?! I completely understand why it could be the busiest as Cape Town, as amazing as it is, doesn’t have a lot of opportunities for most people whereas Johannesburg isn’t known as the “city of gold’ for nothing.
The question remains: When is the best time to book a flight in order to get more bang for your buck?
At first, I thought a month before would provide me with the best options in terms of saving money and general peace of mind. It worked for a while until I subscribed to all major airlines’ newsletters and followed them on social media and realized that there’s always sales happening on flights two weeks after I’ve already booked my ticket! I’m all for saving money and in my humble opinion, booking two weeks before your (local) trip will ensure you get the best price for your flight. Also, make sure you don’t book on a weekend and for months like January and December, ensure that you book months in advance as it’s the most expensive months. According to Travelstart, booking two months in advance will provide you with the best deals but as my plans change quite often, I can’t really commit to that. I recently booked for my cousin on his first trip to Johannesburg and couldn’t follow my two-week-before-the-time rule due to late notice on their side but I managed to get him a flight two days before he was set to arrive for R498, which in this economic climate is quite cheap.
Quick tip: If you see a flight that’s under R500 for your preferred (local) destination, book it! There is (almost) no way that you would find it cheaper anywhere else. There’s often specials where you can buy today but can only use it for a certain period of time, be sure to read the fine print (I know no one does but in this case, please do). Also, if you’re able to check in online to avoid queues, do that. It will save you time and if any unforeseen things pop up like a flat tyre en route, you won’t have the stress of having to go wait in line and perhaps miss your flight.
Use comparison websites like Travelstart
It will save you a lot of time as you’d be able to see flights from all airlines for you preferred travel date in one place. It’s usually ranked from cheapest so you’d be able to find what suits your pocket easily. If you’re an MTN user, you can claim your discount by entering your cellphone number before you book. Sign up for their newsletter to be informed of specials and you can expect expert assistance from them for all your travels as they have offices across Africa and the Middle East. If a package deal is what you’re after, i.e. flight + hotel + car rental, they’d definitely be able to assist you for both your local and international holidays.
My next trip will definitely be to Mauritius, for leisure of course! I’ve read this piece “The best time for you to visit Mauritius! and have a better idea as to when would be ideal to visit as I don’t want to go during tourist season.
Disclaimer: This post was done in collaboration with Travelstart and infographic and links were supplied by them. If you would like more tips on when to book your airline ticket, check out this article on the best time to buy airline tickets on their website.