Best time to purchase flights to Singapore from Australia?
May 24, 2014 9:24 PM   Subscribe

My wife, two daughters and I are hoping to fly to Singapore in January next year to visit some friends. We are not regular airline passengers, and I am wondering how far in advance I should book the flights in order to secure the best deal? Is there an optimum season or distance from the departure date to book? We will be flying out of Melbourne.
posted by bakery to Travel & Transportation around Singapore (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Try Kayak! It's a price aggregator that combs through different airlines' offerings. You can sign up for weekly or daily email updates on prices.
posted by undue influence at 10:01 PM on May 24, 2014

Best answer: I don't think that it's the case anymore that booking well in advance = cheaper, or booking at the last minute = cheaper.

The best time to book is when there's a sale. Lucky for you, Chinese New Year is in February next year, so you have a chance at getting a sale fare in January.

There are a few services which will email you when there's a price drop. I've used Adioso before but not recently so I'm not sure how good they are now. If I were you, I'd have a look at prices across a range of dates so you have an idea of what you can expect to pay, and establish for yourself what a decent price is. You might also want to sign up for email newsletters from the airlines which fly to Singapore so you get notified of sales sooner. Jetstar often has Friday afternoon specials, and I suspect that these fares don't last long enough to get caught by the various aggregators.

It can also be cheaper to fly from Melbourne to Malaysia and then to Singapore - obviously the trade off here is time and hassle.
posted by pianissimo at 10:31 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest looking at Hopper, but it doesn't look as far out as next January. Still, has some good info about the seasonality of travel between those locations, etc. Don't suppose November travel's good for you, is it? Cheap!
posted by mumkin at 11:26 PM on May 24, 2014

Best answer: Hello fellow Australian here. Check out Ozbargain for specials on Scoot flights - they always make it there, and Singers Airlines do pretty regularly too. So do Tiger but you would be pretty game to try them given the number of issues. As an Aussie, I've had pretty shitty luck with finding cheap flights with Kayak etc - your experience may be better.

I would be surprised to see any amazing specials in Jan. It may be before Chinese New Year, but it's still height of school holidays and therefore peak season here. But Scoot is getting pretty ridonkulously cheap these days. Hope this helps,
posted by smoke at 11:31 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've heard somewhere that the sweet spot (assuming no sales) is to book international airfares three months in advance. My own experience has borne that out, but I haven't done the Singapore-Australia route specifically.

If you need to fly before about the 10th of January, you might need to book much earlier, as that still falls in the Christmas season and flights completely book out.
posted by lollusc at 12:30 AM on May 25, 2014

Best answer: Although the school holidays last until late jab/early feb, prices tend to dip around the 16th (sad school teacher who can rarely take these flights here). The later in the month the better, and Wednesday is usually a cheaper day for flights. Avoid Fridays and Sundays.

Sky scanner is reasonably useful for seeing the cheapest times of month, though in would take the stated prices with a grain of salt as they don't usually pan out. Still, they can show you when to go.

Web jet is a good aggregator, better than kayak for Australia. It does include Tiger.

Air Asia flights to Malaysia with connecting flights with smaller airlines to Singapore are often the cheapest seats, but be aware that Air Asia will tack on quite a few extras as you go through the booking process, and are not the most comfortable airline. They can really be a bargain though. I suppose it depends on your tolerance for that kind of thing, and your confidence in booking connecting flights independently with smaller airlines.

Seconding signing up for mail outs. It's a pain, but I got some insanely cheap flights to the UK a few years back with that method. It depends on your motivation levels I suppose, as you do need to pretty much book as soon as you get the email if you want to get the best prices and your choice of dates.
posted by jojobobo at 2:58 AM on May 25, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the advice. With the exception of Web Jet I had not heard of these aggregators and will certainly be following up with them. Looks as though later in January might be the "sweet spot" in 2015 so I will start looking at dates around this time.

As an aside, seems kind of strange to be searching for airline tickets based solely on price. If ever there was a situation where safety should trump price, surely air travel should be it. Harsh reality is, however, that discount airlines are the only option for someone in my situation. Perhaps there is a website that ranks airlines on cost effectiveness AND safety?
posted by bakery at 4:51 AM on May 25, 2014

Well, on the whole, airline safety is very regulated in most (not all) markets. For an airline that is flying out of Australia, there probably are very small differences in safety, but they all meet a fairly stringent standard and that is not really why they are being discounted - it is much more about comfort.

So if you are not going to worry about the safety rating of the car that takes you to the airport, you definitely shouldn't worry about the airline. In Asia, however, there are plenty of small airlines that aren't so up to scratch to the extent that my employer wouldn't let us fly them.

Have a look at Airlines Ratings to compare safety and service - but I think you are right that there isn't a search engine that presents this information. You might also like Hipmunk will order flights by their 'agony' rating - which combines price, duration and number of stops.

But looking now, it looks like there flights with Etihad in late January for $800-ish, so if you are reasonably flexible about dates, you should be able to get a reasonable deal on a full service airline if you prefer (it is via Brisbane though, so depends on whether you prefer direct).
posted by AnnaRat at 5:46 AM on May 25, 2014

Perhaps there is a website that ranks airlines on cost effectiveness AND safety?

I don't know if safety vs cost is a useful metric - if you have a genuine concern with an airline's safety, then surely you wouldn't want to fly them at any price!

I agree with AnnaRat that airlines flying in/out of Australia are highly regulated and safety standards would be pretty similar across the various brands. The difference in price between full service and low cost airlines is more to do with comfort on the plane, and whether things like luggage, meals, and entertainment are included in the base fare or will cost extra. And you can see the huge variation in fares within the same airline - that is to do with supply and demand, the type of ticket you buy, and a whole bunch of mystery factors - but not so much safety.
posted by pianissimo at 8:27 AM on May 25, 2014

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