You must be excited about heading abroad to begin your studies. Your University should have given you the course commencement dates by now. Once you’ve spoken to your University representatives about your accommodation options, on-arrival pick-up services and confirmed your date of arrival, it’s time to sort out your travel plans.
You are going to live in a whole new country for at least two years and spend quite a bit on various things; so it’s important to save money wherever you can. With rising fuel costs and service tax rates, the cost of travel could hit you hard. Some of you may even want to travel frequently between India and your study destination during your semester breaks, and so, finding a cheap flight will help you save a lot of money.
Here are some tips to help you find cheap flights.
A lot of airlines offer students special airfare packages and deals. Apart from discounted fares, you also get an additional baggage allowance for being a student.
Here are some websites that specifically cater to students’ needs related to travel:
- Air India - Student offers
- STA Travel
- Jet Konnect
- Student Universe
- Travel Cuts
- International Students
- Thomas Cook
- Cheap Flights
Importance of timing
As a general rule, the earlier you book your flight ticket, the cheaper it will be. Research has indicated that booking a flight ticket five months in advance would give you the best value for money. So book your flight ticket as soon as your course commencement dates are confirmed by the University.
Ideally, you should book your flight once your visa is confirmed but if you are confident of getting a visa without delays then make your travel plans early.
Flight charges are never fixed and so the prices change periodically. Find out if the rates vary dramatically during seasonal periods. Generally, flight tickets are more expensive during the holiday seasons and travel seasons, like in the summer. So make sure you are not booking a ticket during the busy travel days, like during the Christmas holidays.
Early morning flights
Flights that usually depart early morning at around 3 am are often cheaper than afternoon or evening flights. Although this concession mostly applies for domestic travellers, you can still take advantage of it by taking indirect flights to your study destination.
Surveys have confirmed that a vast majority of people travel on Fridays and Sundays, so tickets are often cheaper on slow travel days like Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it’s always good to remember this when you are searching for cheap travel deals.
Watch out for extras
Keep an eye out for extra charges. You may find a flight that is cheap but may end up paying more in the end due to the airline’s restrictive baggage policies and surcharge rates. Some flights allow you to carry extra luggage for a cost that is affordable, while others may charge a lot for the same service. So choose wisely.
The course commence dates are usually set in stone, but you must be prepared for potential visa delays and other hindrances to your travel plans. So when you are booking a flight, make sure the airline is flexible concerning your dates. If you need to postpone the date of your departure for whatever reason, then ensure you are not paying a heavy penalty for it. Pick a flight plan that charges you a nominal fee to either cancel or postpone the date of your departure. Getting a sizable refund for your cancelled ticket is better than relinquishing a large portion of your ticket cost. Keep this in mind when selecting a flight plan.
It’s highly unlikely that you would know the dates when you are planning to return to India from your study destination. But if you have plans of visiting India during one of your semester breaks then you should always confirm the academic schedule with your University and plan for a return trip on a suitable date. Buying a two-way flight ticket would help you save some money as opposed to a one-way ticket. Some flights even offer a flexible return-flight plan, allowing you to pick a return date of your choice within a year.
Generally, a flight plan that involves changing flights and spending a few hours in other airports, in order to reach your study destination, tends to be cheaper than direct flights. Indirect flights can exhaust you in terms of the waiting time involved, but it can be a lot less expensive compared to direct flights. Take into account the overall travel time, waiting hours, the number of pit-stops involved, flight changes and possible delays when you are booking an indirect flight to your study destination. For example, travelling to the US via Europe can at times prove to be less expensive than travelling via another country. Consider all these factors and weigh up the costs when crafting a travel plan.
It is not easy to book a flight well in advance, due to various delays, involving visas and college intake dates. But if you plan ahead, taking into account any potential delays, then you are likely to find the right flight. Compare your options and examine the various websites we’ve listed, to bag a cheap flight deal. We would love to know your thoughts on finding the best travel deals. Please post your comments below.
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