With less than 10 days to go before Eid Al-Fitr, many Qatar residents have already solidified travel plans for the holidays.
Some are just popping out for a few days, while others will likely be gone all August. But because everyone is leaving at the same time, airfares out of Qatar have soared some 40 percent on popular routes, according to local travel agents.
They say that a number of direct flights – to places like Istanbul, Paris, Vienna, Zurich, Frankfurt, Bangkok, Geneva, Maldives and London – are almost sold out for Eid.
Speaking to Doha News, a representative at Regency Travel & Tours explained:
“Overall, European flights are almost all sold out. It’s always the way. People from this region love to travel to Europe to experience the weather and culture.”
Some flights for popular destinations have seats available, but generally in higher fare classes, as the cheaper, most restrictive tickets have already been sold out.
The airfare industry can be a tricky, complicated business, and it’s passengers who understand the system best who manage to snap up the cheapest tickets. Here are some tips to save money the next time you fly:
Pick the right destination
Travel agents said that at the moment, various countries in Asia (such as China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, India, Thailand and Malaysia) appear to offer some of the cheapest prices when flying from Doha on Qatar Airways.
Another way to stay on budget is to keep close to home – so consider flying to Dubai, or elsewhere in the Gulf. The sheer volume of flights to these cities means that prices haven’t changed that much, despite higher demand.
If your schedule allows it, consider flying out before the Eid holidays begin, or waiting until after the first few days of Eid, when prices should be lower.
Fly to a different airport
Consider flying to an airport in your destination country that’s smaller than the main one. Though the flight times may not be as ideal, the prices could be cheaper because the airport is off the beaten path.
Don’t fly direct
Qatar Airways generally charges a premium to fly non-stop to several locations. To save money, try booking a ticket with a connecting flight. This also works for budget airlines. Another way to reduce costs if you’re traveling to multiple locations is to consider flying with a budget airline for one leg of your trip.
Use public transportation
Unable to reach your destination directly? Try using public transportation for the last part of your journey, instead of purchasing another flight ticket. In many cases, this can save you money, and the total journey time may not be much longer than a flight.
Riding on trains and traveling by ferries or boats can also cut out the check-in two hours before nonsense.
Sign up to be a frequent flier
Though the value of airline memberships has been diminishing in recent years, Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club still offers some benefits to members, depending on the number of Q Points you have racked up from flights.
Those who have accumulated enough can upgrade their seat tiers, or even fly for free. Similarly, some banks have partnerships with airlines that can yield rewards such as free tickets.
Become a social media fan
Feel like you often miss out on offers held by various airlines? Follow them on Facebook or Twitter, or sign up for an airline’s mailing list.
Airlines want to reward regular customers as well as boost the popularity of their services. Some do this by promoting discount rates and special deals only through social media.
This is a long-shot type of tip, but there’s no harm in trying. As part of its Ramadan offerings, Qatar Airways is holding an Instagram competition through July 29. GCC residents can enter to win two free tickets to the airline’s latest destinations — Larnaca, Cyprus — on Business Class.
Check out online ticket-sellers
As well as visiting the airline’s homepage, take the time to explore airfare search engines. Sometimes Qatar Airways tickets and other flights are cheaper when sold through codeshare partners. Some popular flight comparison websites include: Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Skyscanner, Momondo, Kayak and Airfarewatchdog.
Fly with more than one airline
Sometimes it pays to mix it up. Many airlines now sell one-way tickets for a reasonable price, and, depending on the day of travel, the outbound flight may be considerably cheaper than the inbound, or vice versa.
By putting in the extra time to compare airlines, you may save yourself money by purchasing the cheapest one-way tickets that two different airlines are offering.
What other tips do you have? Thoughts?