Travel tips

How to travel luxe without breaking the bank: airfare edition

Air New Zealand’s Dreamliner at the home base (AKL)

Qatar Airways’ new A350 about to take off (business class)

Qatar Airways’ a la carte menu – falafel wrap (business class)

Singapore Airlines’ 777 seat (business class)

All Nippon Airways (ANA)’s Dreamliner engine by Rolls Royce

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This is the first part of our travel luxe without breaking the bank series. Today, we will give you guys some airfare hacks.

Today, we will give you guys some airfare hacks.

With luxurious travel, the short answer for finding affordable options is simply you need to invest up front and see luxurious traveling as a lifestyle from now on.  Achieving status with airlines and hotels will help you travel luxuriously for a lower price in the long run.

But of course, it is not cheap to achieve status. So here are some quick tricks that you can immediately try for your next holiday without breaking the bank. We will dive into the necessary long term investments in a later post.

Before we start, first things first, knowing your airline status and the status of those who are traveling with you is crucial. These means free (or at least cheap) stuff for you from the get go!

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How to get cheap airfare? We have all been there, looking for the cheapest airfare days on end.

Sounds simple right? Yes, but this time for luxurious travel, we are talking about business and first class. And they are a whole different beast.

For affordable business class sales, sign up for promotional emails from African, Asian and Middle Eastern airlines. 

Depending on where you are based and where you want to go, the fares are going to differ, but for us currently based in Asia / Oceania, Ethiopian Airlines(Star Alliance), Thai Airways(Star Alliance) andQatar Airways (One World) are good places to start. With these three, you basically cover most parts of the world anyway.

Depending on the carrier you pick, the degree of luxuriousness is going to vary quite a bit. The above are sorted from less luxurious (Ethiopian Airlines – 3 stars airline) to more luxurious (Qatar Airways – 5 star airline and the BEST BUSINESS CLASS IN THE WORLD!)

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If you can’t be bothered with airline promotion emails, go on aggregators to get them to find you the cheapest fare in business.

Kayak is our go-to when starting the search. Again, depending on your country of departure, there are other aggregators that may work better. But in general, we haven’t found anything better than kayak yet.

Google Flights visual map search function is also great as it enables you to see prices for different airports in and around your intended destination. If you find a good deal, you can then always buy a cheap connecting flight, or travel over ground. Try and find hub airports like Dubai (DXB), Frankfurt (FRA), LA (LAX), Hong Kong (HKG) or London (LHR) to make these connections cheaper / more frequent. Let

Let us know which aggregator(s) you like to use in the comments below!

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Timing wise, of course the earlier you book the cheaper it usually is. But if you are like us who don’t decide on what we do until a few days before, you will have to use one or more of the following hacks:

  1. look for flights with transits – direct flights are expensive so look at flights that have transits, especially in hubs cities (e.g. Bangkok, Doha, etc.) These sometimes bring down the price by a good 30-50% based on our experience!
  2. look for hidden city ticketing – this is more advanced, but basically, if you add the right city to the end of your trip and have a “layover” in your destination city on the ticket, the price for the whole ticket with an extra city is actually lower. If you don’t want to do it yourself, use services like Flystein to find you these deals.
  3. keep your destination flexible – when you are booking last minute and want to travel cheap, you will have to be flexible about your destination most of the time. See where cheaper airfares takes you – Google Flights again does well here because you can search by the type of holiday you want (e.g. beach, Asia, honeymoon, etc.)

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Once you have some idea of which carriers are cheap at what prices, you will have different options based on your status situation:

  1. If no one on your trip has status, then: book the cheapest business ticket (you can also book economy / premium economy and bid for upgrades using cash (not all airlines have this function but we’ve noticed a significant increase over the last few years. Air New Zealand (Star Alliance), one of our favourite carriers, was the first to offer this system via their One Up programme. Cathay Pacific(One World), another fantastic airline we love, recently started bids as well for limited sectors. You can also use any points you might have with the airline or an airline in the alliance you’re travelling with, although without status it’s less likely you’ll be able to secure an upgrade.
  2. If at least one of you has status, then: you’ve got a few choices

 

A) If you / they are rich in points: you know the drill, book those flights on points and enjoy the ride for free (some minimal surcharges do apply). With award flights try and get in as early as you can to avoid disappointment

 

B) If you / they have some points but not enough to book the trip in full: buy an economy / premium economy seat and upgrade to business using points

 

C) If you / they don’t have enough points:  then book the cheapest business class fare with a carrier that’s a part of the alliance you belong to

 

With status, at the very least, you know you can enjoy the lounge even if traveling in economy, so that’s always nice.

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With those simple steps, you should be in good shape to finding your next affordable business class ticket!

Keep an eye out for our next blog post, which will be focussed on selecting the right loyalty programme.

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Make sure to check out my Instagram for our latest holiday photos with a sprinkle of luxe

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