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About 5 years ago, Indian (then called Indian Airlines) and Jet Airways were the only domestic airlines in India and a person traveling by air had limited options. With the introduction of  low cost carriers - Air Deccan, SpiceJet, GoAir, Indigo, air travelers in India(in 2007) have more choice and by planning in advance, you can get the cheapest air fares.In 2015, new airlines are Vistara, AirAsia and others

Airlines open booking on various routes two to three months before the journey date. If you are traveling on a holiday, it is advisable to be flexible about the dates for cheapest prices. The final fare can be more than double the initial fare depending on the destination, day of the week and the date. For example, if there a lot of holidays or extended weekend due to festivals, the return ticket from a tourist destinations like Goa or Kerala will be high. Also very early morning flights (around 4 am ) are comparatively empty and you will get cheaper fares for these flights

If you book close to the date of  the flight, there is not much difference in the prices of budget  airlines and full service airlines. In such cases, it is advisable to book on full service airlines, since you will served food on board, and are also given lunch coupons in case the flight is delayed or cancelled. Also prices, during the monsoon in India (July - September), which is the off - season, are lower.

Since most of the people who travel by air in India are business travelers, airfares on Mondays and Fridays are highest. Also early morning and late evening flights are usually full and tickets are costliest. Airfares for mid week flights and  flights around mid-day are usually lower. However, the disadvantage of  booking a ticket on these flights is that the flight may be cancelled by the airline if there are too few passengers. Also these flights can be delayed, if there is a problem at some other airport.

Most airlines offer a better price for return tickets compared to a one way ticket. Also, some airlines offer a special "season" passes, for example for Air Sahara, you pay a fixed amount in advance and you can take any number of  Air Sahara flights for a particular period. Air Deccan also had  a similar offer a year back, where you could get  14  tickets on ATR routes by paying about Rs 25,000 in advance. If you are a frequent flyer, this can be the cheapest deal, since you are protected from price increases in future.

To get  the best price online, you can check the prices on the various airline websites individually or compare prices at online travel websites like Indiatimes auctions , MakeMyTrip and Cleartrip .  At times, the prices at online travel websites is lower than airline websites due promotions. Low fares and  special offers are advertised in newspapers also, but searching the best deal can be difficult.


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