If you’re wondering how to get the cheapest flights to Asia from North America, Europe, UK or Australia, look no further. We’ve done your homework for you and we’re not selling anything …
8 tips to get the cheapest flights to Asia
We like to spend as little as possible on our airfares so we have more money to spend on our holiday once we get to Asia. So let’s talk about some general tips that will always save you money when you fly.
- First and foremost, book in advance! Sometimes we book up to a year in advance to take advantage of special sale prices (which have included, at times, $1 airfares when a new airline or route is being launched). If you insist on buying your airline tickets 3-4 weeks out from your travel dates, you’ll almost always pay the highest prices. In general, you’ll find the best fares about 7-10 weeks out from your intended dates as this is when the airlines are looking at their flight loading and how many seats they still have empty.
- Second, and just as important, try to buy your tickets online! You will almost always find the best airfares on the internet, because the airlines are paying less in ticket commissions to online sales agents. Some airlines even offer special fares online that are not available off-line. You also usually get to choose your own seats when you book online. Try sites like flyscoot.com and wotif.com to find out what range of prices is available for the time you want to fly, then choose a likely airline and try their site direct – you may find it’s even cheaper!
- Choose unpopular days to fly – fly on Saturday rather than Friday or Sunday when most people want to start or end their holidays. Tuesday and Wednesday are usually the cheapest days of all to fly to Asia, because very few people want to begin or end their holiday in the middle of the week. Try different days to see how much the fare changes.
- Be as flexible as possible – in peak travel periods, airlines often over-book popular flights, so when you get to the airport be prepared to volunteer if they ask for passengers to travel on a later flight. You will often find you can save hundreds of dollars if you do this.
- Choose your travel dates carefully – there are times of the year when it’s just silly to be trying to travel. In Asia, one of these times is Chinese New Year when every man and his dog is trying to get home for the obligatory family visit. In North America, try to avoid the middle of the week before Thanksgiving and the week leading up to Christmas, because both of these are chaotic.
- Choose where you travel from – it’s almost always cheaper to travel between the most popular destinations, even if that’s not where you want to holiday. We usually travel from Australia’s Gold Coast, about 120 km from our home, and our initial destination is Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. From there we can catch flights to almost anywhere in Asia at “domestic” prices (like $90 to Thailand and $150 to China). High traffic routes usually have a lot bigger choice of airlines and flight times and lots more seats to fill. In the USA, try to fly from La Guardia airport in New York, LAX in Los Angeles, Oakland Airport in San Francisco or Midway Airport in Chicago.
- Round trip tickets aren’t always cheaper than two one-way fares – on very cheap airlines like Ryan Air, Air Asia, Virgin and Jetstar you can often get the best price by buying two one-way fares. Always do the comparison, especially if one of your flight dates is in the off-peak season.
- For Canadian travellers, it’s cheaper to fly from the USA – if you are flying to Asia from Vancouver or Toronto, consider driving over the border to Seattle or Buffalo and catching your flight from there because the airfare costs will usually be significantly cheaper.
Cheapest airlines to fly with to Asia
- Air Asia X, if you can. This Malaysian-based carrier is building a large and very modern international presence to many countries including Australia (Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth) and almost all popular destinations in Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Japan, China, Cambodia and Myanmar, to name but a few). Air Asia has two big seat sales every year with very cheap prices. This is a “no frills” airline, so you have to pay extra for luggage, meals, drinks and in-flight entertainment – just watch the total costs.
- South-West Airlines from most popular US locations – note that you won’t usually find South-West Airlines fares on the popular fare comparison websites as they only market online through their own website.
- Virgin America based in San Franscisco, but with flights from most popular US airports (Boston, Chicago, Dallas, NY and Washington).
- AirBerlin or Condor from Europe (both based out of Germany).
- Jetstar or Tiger from Australia.
- Jazeera Airways from the Middle East.