17 secret tips to book cheap flight tickets in India – Save 20% or more

POSTED BY manish ON February 17, 2017 COMMENTS (42)

Today I am going to share 17 amazing tips you can use to book cheap flight tickets in India. Many of the tips I will be sharing would be already known to many people, but some tips might be new or unexplored by many.

While you might not get very big discounts using these tips, still you will be able to benefit to some margin.

book cheap flight India

Make sure you read all the tips mentioned below, as some people might feel that they already know most of them so it makes no sense to look at all. I myself got to know 2-3 new things while writing this article.

#1 – Use the special debit and credit card offers

I personally never give a lot of thought to this tip earlier. I mostly used the coupons and codes mentioned on the social media or coupon sites, but there are various special offers designed especially for the debit card and credit card holders only.

For example if you have kotak bank card, you should search for “Kotak offers flight tickets” on Google and you will surely get some page on the kotak website or flight booking websites which will give you some special codes for getting additional discount.

kotak flight offers

When I went to that page on Yatra, it shows me various offers.

flight offers with various banks

If you look at the offers above, you can see that ICICI bank offer for yatra website is there with code YTICICI17, but it’s only applicable for the flight before 31st Mar and the airfare should be minimum Rs 3,500.

So I found a flight from Kolkata to Ahmedabad for 15th March and applied the coupon code and it showed me Rs 500 instant discount (It was a real discount, not cashback)

banks offer for flights booking

So whatever is your bank name, just search for “bank name + flight discounts code” and you will surely get some offer page.

You may also want to explore the special credit cards which are launched in association with the airlines (like The Jet Airways American Express card) which earns you JPMiles or frequent flyer miles.

#2 – Use the wallet cash to get further discount

I think goibibo started this and became hugely successful due to this factor. It’s one of the most trusted ways to get further discounts on flights/hotels and other bookings.

All the websites like makemytrip, goibibo, yatra have this concept of virtual wallets and you get some cash backs in this wallet which can be partially used while making the payments.

Goibibo calls it as goCash, Yatra has eCash and Makemytrip simply calls it as Wallet money. I have been an extensive user of Goibibo and no matter how great other websites offers were, after applying goCash, I always got the best price at Goibibo.

However now I get some great offers at makemytrip compared to goibibo (may be because they are now merged).

Goibibo virtual cash called gocash

This virtual cashback can also be used for booking hotels and you keep getting this virtual cash with most of your booking. You can also get Rs 3,000 worth of goCash by downloading goibibo App from this link

My teammate Kunal uses ixigo app, and the best part about it is that they offer the cashback directly into citrus account which can also be taken back in your bank account, so it’s a real cashback in that sense.

#3 – Book within 30-90 days in advance

Expedia did a very interesting study and found out that on an average the lowest flight tickets sold was 57 days in advance. They studied various domestic flights prices and saw the trend and found out that booking a flight very early is not always the best option. There is enough time left to fill the seats so airlines are not desperate to grab more and more customers at cheap prices.

As per their study, the prices were moderate in the start, and kept on declining and somewhere around 50-60 days before the departure date, the prices started rising and then shooted up during the last 2-3 weeks.

expedia study on cheapest flight

They found out that the average ticket price was $496, while the cheapest one was at $401 and that was sold around 57 days in advance.

Now this is not a study based in India and things are different here. Also we know that this is just the average of 100’s of data, the conclusion here is that you should neither buy the airlines tickets very early like 5-6 months (not applicable for international flights) nor too late. Ideally if you buy it in the window of 30-90 days in advance, you should always great a very good deal.

However this is not true for festival times and some destinations which sees rush in some particular season. Here a small infographic on this topic.

17 secret tips to book cheap flight tickets in India - Save 20% or more

#4 – Take flights at odd hours

If you are ok travelling very late at night, then you can get low price on flights. But this might not work when you are travelling with family or when you need to reach your destination at particular time (like for some meeting or a seminar etc)

However people travelling solo who do not have a fix time to reach can explore this option.

I travel from Pune to Ahmedabad many times a year and I like to take late night flights as they are comfortable for me and I also don’t have to face traffic 🙂 and mostly they are very cheap. Check the snapshot below

cheap flight at late night

I think the simple reason for this might be that many people do not want to reach their destinations by 1 or 2 in night and hence avoid flights at night, which means there is less demand for flights at night.

But you will not get a cheap flight if you are booking it on the last minute.

#5 – Try flexible dates

If you do not have rigid plans, you can surely look at dates which are either 1 or 2 days earlier or later than your planned date. Often, you will find out that many times you might get a cheaper option on a different date very close to your planned date.

A quick way to find this out is to first search for your flight for the date you have planned for, and then when you try to edit the date, it will show you the calendar with the prices for various dates.

lower price for flights

Above you can see how the flight ticket for Pune to Delhi for 10th Mar shows the price as Rs 4930, but the price just 3 days before that and 2 days later is Rs 2402 , which is almost 50% less.

According to many international studies on airlines prices, it’s concluded that the cheapest dates to fly are Tuesday and Wednesday, as they are weekdays and the traffic is less. So keep that in mind while travelling.

#6 – Use mobile apps for booking

If you are still using the web browser for booking fights, you are missing some awesome offers provided by various websites. From time to time websites offers some discount codes (not cashback) which will reduce your fights prices by around 5-10% at least.

I recently booked a flight from Pune to Dehradun on makemytrip mobile app and used a coupon code FLTAGAIN which reduced the flight price by Rs 800. This coupon was only valid for mobile app and only for those who got the offer on email.

It surely compensated for all the convinienece charges and the travel insurance charges. Here is the snapshot of the offer taken from my mobile

makemytrip mobile app offer

Here are the benefits you generally get when you book your flights from mobile apps

  • You generally get more reward points (cashback points)
  • You get exclusive discount/cashback offers
  • Airlines mobile apps also provide good discount on meals booking

#7 – Make payments by Wallets

Do you know that you can get some additional cashback when you pay from wallets like Mobikwik, paytm, freecharge, payumoney?

Yes, that’s true.

Below is an example of freecharge offering 10% cashback on the base fare of jetairways flights. If you book the flight on the app or website of jetairways and make the payment using the freecharge wallet, you will get the cashback provided all the terms and conditions are met.wallets offers on flights

Almost all kind of wallet companies have a dedicated page for these kinds of offers and it will share various deals for hotel booking, bus booking, flights etc..

Like Mobikwik has a dedicated offers page, and I can see that it shows a deal where you get Rs 200 cashback if you book a flight on makemytrip. This is above and over the other discounts and cashbacks.

mobikwik cashback offers

#8 – Book two single flights from different providers

If you want to go a little extra mile and are ready to spend your “valuable” time then you can also explore booking two single flights instead of a return flight or connecting flight and maximize the cashback and discounts.

So if you are planning to go from point A -> point B and also returning back, then instead of booking A-> B return flight form a single website, you can book A->B flight from one website (and use their cashback and discounts) and book B->A from another website (use their cashback and discount offers)

While this may not give you a better deal all the times, it’s a good idea to explore especially when you are booking tickets for a higher value or international flights.

Here is an example

Imagine if a website is giving 10% discount on tickets above Rs 5,000 , with maximum cashback of Rs 500. So if you book your return flight and total charges would be Rs 10,000 , but you will get the maximum discount of Rs 500 only.

Instead of that you can book one way flight from one website and get Rs 500 discount and same way you can get Rs 500 discount for other flight at other website.

The only problem in this is that you will have to enter all your details two times instead of one and same for making payments

#9 – Book directly from airlines website

If you are not getting any cashbacks or discounts on the intermediary websites like paytm, makemytrip, ixigo, expedia, goibibo etc, then it’s a good idea to check the flight rates directly on the website of the airlines. Airlines pay some commission to the middleman websites and often the prices at the airlines are a little cheaper (not much, but a little).

So first you should filter and search for the appropriate flight best suited for your requirement and then note down the flight number and timing of the flight and then head over to the airlines website and directly book the flight from there, because you might end up saving few bucks there.

Why does this happen?

Because you will save on the convenience fees as the airlines fees are lesser than what is charged by the intermediary websites.

To check this points, I searched for one way fare from Kolkata to Ahmedabad on 3rd Mar, 2017 (around 3 pm) and I found out assuming no cashback and discounts are available, would the total amount payable (just before you make the payment) is lowest at the airlines website?

I did flight comparison on Yatra.com , Makemytrip, Paytm and Indigo website and found out that the cheapest was indeed at the indigo website

price comparison flights direct airlines website

#10 – Use incognito mode while “researching”

Most of the airlines now keep changing their flight ticket prices dynamically as per the demand and supply. This is called dynamic pricing.

So when you search for a particular flight on a particular day, and then keep researching about it for next 20-30 min, the airlines and the intermediary websites understand that there is a demand for a particular flight and if you spend too much time just researching, they know that your chances of buying a flight ticket is high now

Flights prices changing with dynamic pricing strategy

And suddenly you will find that when you go to book the ticket, the prices go up dynamically ! . There are technical things like web cookies which track and remember what you are searching for , so as a precaution it helps if you use incognito mode while browsing.

Also note that this might be more applicable when you are using the mobile apps for booking, because the websites know who exactly is doing it (you register your email/phone in app)

#11 – Use Student & Senior Citizen Discount if applicable

Some airlines allow students and senior citizens some basic discount on the base fare, it’s a small discount like 8-10%, but still saves you some money. If you are travelling with your children or parents, you might want to check if you can get some further discounts.

However these discounts are applicable only on the airlines websites. For example, Spicejet has an 8% discount on base fare for students. Here is a snapshot

students discount flight

Do read the terms and conditions for these student and senior citizen discount offers as they might not be applicable on some dates or routes.

#12 – Use hand-baggage-only fare tickets

If you are travelling solo and don’t have much of luggage, choose the hand-baggage only option while choosing the flight. Airlines expenses increase if the flight is heavy and hence they give incentive to you if you carry less stuff

#13 – Check out for coupons and offers

Something which everyone can do is search for offers while booking for the flights. Almost all the times there are various websites which offer different types of discount or cashback for booking flights.

Sometimes you will find offers for booking both way flights, or for international flights and sometimes it’s based on the total ticket price (like “applicable only if tickets prices are above Rs 8,000”)

17 secret tips to book cheap flight tickets in India - Save 20% or more

It never hurts to spend few minutes to look at the offer pages of websites like Makemytrip, goibibo, Yatra, Cleartrip and other websites.

You can also try to search for flights coupons on various coupon websites. Make coupons website offer their own cashback to you additionally as they get some commission from the aggregator websites.

#14 – Put the alerts for price decline

Google Flights give you an option to track the prices of a particular flight and will email you from time to time when the prices change. So if you have a lot of time left and can wait for the booking, better wait and track the prices.

Google flight alerts

Just make sure that you should be clear when you will book the flights, else it might happen that you just keep prices to fall down and never book it and then pay a lot towards the end).

#15 – Subscribe to the Airfare Newsletter

Various airlines and intermediary sites keep sending various offers from time to time, you can subscribe to their newsletters if you don’t mind constant emails on offers. I will surely help someone who travels a lot.

airlines newsletters

#16 – Book now, Pay Later

Some websites like goibibo and Yatra have introduced options to book the flight without paying the money (it’s like blocking the seats) . You can block it and pay it later after few days.

So if you are not sure about your schedule or plans, just block the seats and pay when your plans are confirmed OR if you are not getting cheaper flights later 🙂 .

block your flight price

The cancellation and rescheduling charges are very high anyways.

#17 – Don’t be loyal to one website itself

If you are loyal to one website (intermediary) or an airline, then you might be missing some good offers from other websites. I know some people feel it’s not worthwhile to spend a lot of time trying to save few bucks, in which case it’s ok to be loyal, but otherwise, you can quickly surf 3-4 options and then choose the best option.

However … Here are the precautions

While I have talked about various things you can do to book the cheap flight tickets in India, there are few points I want to make.

  • If you feel you are getting the good deal already, just try a bit to improve it, and book it. Don’t get paranoid trying to bring the price down. While it’s great to get some discounts, you should check for yourself if it’s really worth your time.
  • If you like to eat every time you are on the plane (like me), it makes sense to prebook the meal, What you can get at Rs 300 in flight without booking is available for Rs 250 or Rs 200 if you prebook it . So if you are already clear that you will be eating, why not save that money.
  • If you are looking for cheap international flights, some of these points might not be applicable, but still you should try most of these as it would be great to save money because of high prices for international flights to US and European countries.
  • Make sure you consider the full cost going from point A -> B . If you choose a cheaper ticket which has a 6 hours overlay in a city in between, please understand that you will also spend on food, lounge or some entertainment etc. It should not happen that to save Rs 200 , you have spent Rs 500 in between. People don’t consider these points while searching for the cheap tickets
  • Also consider your time worthwhile finding low cost tickets. If your time is highly valuable and you can spend 2 hours in something valuable like writing a book, or solving some important thing worth something, then don’t waste your energy and time waiting for the connecting flight just because you are saving few hundred rupees

At the end, you want some more information on this topic, you can look at this info graphic which will give you some more understanding about how airlines work and where they spend etc.

Let me know if I missed some points or some trick?

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42 replies on this article “17 secret tips to book cheap flight tickets in India – Save 20% or more”

  1. Ankur says:

    Being a traveler I really like the information which you have shared in your article is really valuable. I really like the way you have represented all the things in a precise manner with an effective point by which anyone who is looking for some amount of saving on flight booking can get all the things under one roof. In addition to this one can also go for coupons and offers sharing sites which you have mentioned already. I really like this kind of sites because they have all the collected data for latest offers, coupon, and promo codes whether is from any special bank, credit card, or from the application and their official website. One can easily select the type of offer as per the choice.

  2. RB says:

    1. Use cashback websites like cashkaro.com. Every little helps.
    2. I absolutely love Indigo. But often Indigo costs more than a full service airline. I have booked Jet and Air India tickets which were cheaper than Indigo and included meals. Ask yourself, is it worth paying the premium only for on-time performance?
    3. Never use Indigo Friend and family option. Its way cheaper to buy individual tickets.
    4.Indian IT crowd travels on Friday/Sunday/Monday. Avoid these days and flying will be a totally different experience altogether.

    1. Thanks for sharing that RB

  3. Rajiv says:

    Thanks Manish, for the above information. Just wanna add that, now a day there are privilege credit card available for frequent traveller, what about does cards are they useful or worst taking it.

    1. Truly speaking I have not used them nor I have a deep understanding of them. So I cant comment on that!

  4. sudeep says:

    Hi Manish,
    Thank you for this excellent article and valuable information. Here are some of my personal experiences to add on.
    1.Most bank related offers tend to restrict you to certain websites only, where the prices are already higher, it’s a ploy of the bank to use their credit or debit cards. It’s better to compare multiple sites before making the choice.
    2.Buying early always get good rates, more so if you have a definite travel plan.
    3.Buying tickets for odd hours or late nights, the amount saved are mostly negated by the exorbitant taxi fares during that time.
    4.Try multi-city option while searching rather than one way or in reference to point no 8 discussed.
    5.Other than the already discussed website, try akbar travels online for good discounts. Beside ‘s try chrome extensions like buyhatke which functions similar to Google flights with price alerts.
    6.Individual airline sites usually do not give good discounts, but always preferable to check their sites as they give an idea of fares and flight schedules.Many of these information are sometimes missing on the travel sites.

    7.Redeeming mileage points to get a flight ticket is such a hassle specifically with jet airways.Most of the time, they do not open up the dates or timings of your choice while using the redeem option in the airline website.
    8.Always compare multiple sites before you book.

    1. Thanks for these great tips !

  5. Rohith says:

    Hi Manish,

    Thanks for the excellent article. Each and every tip is perfectly articulated so that anyone can easily understand. Over the years what I have noticed is that the day of booking also matters. Generally on a weekend the prices are higher and tend to decrease after Monday night. This again is part of dynamic pricing as more number of people tend to search during weekend’s.

    Regards,
    Rohith

    1. Yes Rohith .. I think which day you book really matters ..

  6. Sarang says:

    Manish,
    Again a very good and informative article.
    I am a frequent traveller and book air tickets using few of the techniques you already mentioned. Though Incognito was new to me too. Really awareness of such behind the scenes “manipulation” is must know for customers like us.
    Thanks
    Sarang

    1. Great to know that Sarang !

  7. suvarna says:

    Hi manish…It’s good to know all this trips..however most of the times i compared prices on original sites are lower than ytra,makemytrip..and if we book through other sites then it asks for convenience charges which is almost same as discount we are getting….so it becomes same or less to original site..

    1. Yes, but you need to know that if you dont apply coupon then you will pay convenience charge also , atleast you are saving that at the minimum!

  8. Vasantha says:

    Very informative

    1. Thanks for your comment Vasantha

  9. Sreerkha says:

    This definitely helps ; Thanks for your time and effort Manish

  10. Berty Thomas says:

    Hi Manish,
    While booking early is considered a universally applicable rule for low fares, there are further caveats to this especially in the Indian domestic scenario. Here, fares sometimes trend at a higher range on particular days and then come down during the period of discount. So even when you book early, a lot depends on the days that you book the flight. For example, last week, the airfares in India entered a period of high price range. I have written a post on this here: http://unfare.in/blog/2017/02/flight-booking-advisory-higher-prices/

    I have created an app to track these airfare patterns because of my interest in this area. Do check it out here: http://unfare.in and I am sure frequent travellers will benefit from this.

    Do let me know your thoughts!

    1. Thanks for sharing that 🙂 ..

  11. LokeshChandwani says:

    One can earn miles even when its a travel within India specially on Jet with their JP miles program and am sure other airlines would also have something similar.

    1. Thanks for sharing that LokeshChandwani

  12. Sunil says:

    Good Manish.one more thing is I want to ask here that what is the rule of luggage charges?

    1. I think the most common rule is that 15 KG of luggage as checkin baggage (which is not with you) and 7kg of carry luggage !

  13. Sumit Kulkarni says:

    Hi Manish!

    I travel regularly for business purpose. Couple of tips like using Incognito & not be too loyal to a website, are interesting for me. Usually, I do compare all airfares at http://www.skyscanner.co.in. I guess it is one of the best website to compare and decide flight booking.

    1. Thanks for sharing that ! … Will explore skyscanner more !

  14. shahid jafri says:

    very interesting and useful stuff. kudos!

    1. Thanks for your comment shahid jafri

  15. Radha Krishna says:

    Excellent Update. You are correct, we know some of them. Your explanation with details are perfect :).

    1. Thanks 🙂 . You can also contribute some tip from your end !

  16. Vijay Kumar says:

    Thanks for sharing these handy tips Manish

  17. Sreekanth says:

    Not even a single point is new. Anyone who has used Internet banking would know all already.

    1. Yes, it might not be new for you, But several others are saying that many points were new for them 🙂 .

      Manish

  18. sravan says:

    Manish,

    May be you should discuss more about Ixigo (probably as a separate point) , as they offer discounts even at the lowest fares and that too on top of the all the discounts provided by regular websites.

    I have been using it from past two years and I usually save about 20-30% of the ticket price.

    1. YEs, I will explore more on that !

  19. Amol says:

    Thank you Manish for sharing tips.

    Also one should enroll to the frequent flyer program. Miles added to your account can be redeemed later for Travel/other accessories.

    1. Yes, but I think its more applicable if you travel a lot outside India? Is that not the case?

      1. Vishnu Vardhan says:

        Hi Manish, Frequent flyet is applicable for indian trips as well. I make use of JP miles from Jet airways

        1. thanks for sharing that . Do we get it even when we do not book it from their website ?

          Manish

          1. Nimesh Shah says:

            Every airline has a loyalty program/frequent flier program irrespective of from where you book the ticket…The number of miles one earns depends on the distance one travels during each trip….Best airline loyalty program could be your next article….

            1. So when I book a indigo flight from makemytrip, what do I need to do to have those points?

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