So before embarking on my “grand travel” that will take place soon enough, I have decided to give my parents in Kuching a visit. This trip back to my hometown will go down in the history to be the longest yet in my six-year working journey in Peninsular.
The tickets were also the cheapest I’ve ever bought.
Currently there are three airlines, namely Malindo Airlines, AirAsia, and Malaysian Airlines or MAS, offering flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching. It’s a good thing that more and more airline companies are coming out and competing against each other while taking full advantage of the increasing number of travellers.
While Malindo and AirAsia are both budget airlines, MAS is Malaysia’s national carrier which after the MH370 and MH17 tragedies has seen a dip in its sales and since been offering promo tickets to attract customers.
In May last year, two months after the MH370 tragedy took place, I booked a trip with MAS from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching for just RM185, which was almost the same fare as budget airlines Malindo and AirAsia.
So let’s not deviate too much from the topic, on how I got my Kuala Lumpur to Kuching round trip for only RM70. Let me just say that there is no magic in making good deals on airline tickets, but a little common sense would save you some money.
1. Peak vs. Off-peak
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always more expensive to travel during peak periods, which in Malaysia are usually during school and public holidays. In 2015, Malaysian school holidays fall on the following periods (source):
School holidays for 2015
14.03.2015 – 22.03.2015
30.05.2015 – 14.06.2015
19.09.2015 – 27.09.2015
21.11.2015 – 03.01.2016
Therefore you can expects fares around these periods to be costlier. If you’re flying with AirAsia, you can compare fares by using its four-week price chart (below however I merged the charts for May and June 2015 into one):
As you can see, fares for Kuching-Kuala Lumpur flights are raised during the period from 28 May to 14 June 2015, and it is interesting to note that Malaysian school holidays start in the same period from 30 May to 14 June.
On top of that, 1 and 2 June are Hari Gawai (for Sarawak), whereas 30 and 31 May are the Harvest Festival (for Sabah), so Sarawakians and Sabahans may take advantage of this festive period to travel.
2. Weekday Flights vs. Weekend Flights
It is also generally more expensive to travel on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Consider the following round-trip domestic flights by MAS between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Bharu:
Notice how the fares go up on Friday and also during the weekend? Most people take the advantage of the weekend break and Friday after work to travel and hence an increase in airfares should be expected.
A check on AisAsia.com for one-way flights from Kuala Lumpur to Penang on 13, 14, and 15 March 2015 (respectively a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) also reveals a similar pattern. The fares for these three dates are relatively higher compared to the rest of the days.
There are, however, exceptions.
For AirAsia flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok’s Don Mueang, airfare remains relatively lower and consistent even for a few Fridays and weekends after the end of the Malaysian school holidays on 14 June.
However, the fares shoot up again after 12 July (16 July being the most expensive) due to Hari Raya that falls on 17 and 18 July.
3. Morning deals
My flight with AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, when bought a month ago, came with a promo fare of just RM29, which includes the inevitable RM3 “KLIA2 fee” and RM6 airport tax.
But time of flight is also not a pretty one: freaking 7.10am.
Which means I have to be at the airport as early as 5am. But I guess sometimes we gain some, sometimes we lose some. It’s only fair.
4. Compare flights between airlines
We now have a tool called SkyScanner that allows users to conveniently compare airfares in just a few clicks, without them having to perform searches repeatedly on individual airline websites.
My cheap flights to and from Kuching were all thanks to putting an effort into comparing airfares. Like I’ve said, I scored a pretty deal with AirAsia’s Kuala Lumpur-Kuching one-way ticket for just RM29. As for the return ticket, I got another deal with Malindo for RM38.
Having listed the points above, we should know by now it is no difficult task in securing cheap airline tickets. The only problem is that most of us do not have the luxurious of time to go for the cheapest tickets. I may have gotten the RM70 deal, but that’s only because I now have the flexibility of time, to travel at the times and on the days when fares are the cheapest.