How to decide if an airline sale is worth? 5 point checklist!

Airlines keep launching sales at regular intervals- we can't afford to keep booking on every sale. We need to identify which sale is worth (i.e cheapest) and which one is superficial. How do we know if a sale is worth or not? How to decide if one should book a ticket on this sale or wait for next one? In this post I share some guidelines which you can apply on any sale and decide for yourself if the sale is worth.
1. Check against lowest benchmark price
For a few popular origin destination pair that you frequently fly or interested in, do keep a track of lowest fare you've ever seen. For example, lowest fare between Chennai and Bengaluru is usually around INR 700, between Chennai and Kochi is around INR 1000, between Chennai and Australia is around 10000 (all one way fares, excluding convenience fee) and so on. I have a list in this post, but you can create and maintain one for destinations of your choice. It takes some time, effort and trial and error to identify absolute bottom price possible for any origin-destination.

I picked up this habit from Bata sale. Every other day, they advertise a sale offering as much as 70-80% discount. But there'll be no discount on Rs 50 Hawai chappals. Discounts are only on fancy shoes and chappals whose correct price is hard to predict and are often inflated to give discount. 80% off sale means nothing to me if I can't buy a Rs 50 Hawaii chappal at discount, whereas even 10% discount on Hawai chappal means it is a genuine deal for me, because I know the original price of the product.

During the sale, check prices for these destinations for which you know the lowest price already. If the sale price is cheaper or at least closer to the lowest price you've seen in the past, then the sale is good and worth booking.

2. Check price for non-competitive routes.
Indigo doesn't have a competition on Chennai-Tuticorin sector. Spicejet has no competition on Hyderabad-Pondichery sector. Check the price for such sectors. If the sale price is lower than regular prices even for sectors where there's no competition, then usually the sale is good. Otherwise the sale could be only to catch up with competition prices.

3. Check travel duration-longer the better
When a sale is launched, usually there’re two date ranges- Book by- say from today till next 4 days and travel by- say from today till 3 months from now or 9 months from now. Pay close attention to this “travel by date”. If it is far away- for example, today is 6th July and an airline sale is allowing booking till March next year, then ticket prices will be reasonably cheap towards the end of sale period- Feb/March next year. If travel duration is very short time- like next few months only, then fares are not very likely to super cheap

From my experience, sale with longer travel by dates are usually much better than sales that try to fill up seats near term.

4. Who launched the sale first?
Check if the particular airline was the first to launch a sale or they’re launching only because competition is also launching a sale. If Indigo launches a sale one day after Spicejet sale, the objective is primarily to match Spicejet rate and not lose out on customers, than selling deep discounted seats. Thus the sale may not really be exciting.

5. Check for terms and conditions
Always check additional terms and conditions that come with a sale- such as no refund, no change allowed, increased convenience fees, less than standard loyalty miles etc and ensure that you're comfortable with these. If you're not comfortable with these, may be you should wait and book normal fares even if it is a bit expensive.

I apply above 5 checks whenever a sale is announced and book only if I feel the sale is good enough. Now that you know the secret on how to eliminate not so good 'sales' best wishes.

Also read: 10 factors that influence airline tickets
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