As travel gets ever more expensive and airlines search for ways to recoup their costs and improve their bottom lines, you may think that affordable airfare is just a distant dream. In fact, there are plenty of ways you can save money when booking your flights; you just have to know how and when to buy. Here are five basic steps to get great deals on Sydney flights.

1. Travel at the right time of year. High season, or Sydney’s summer, will bring the highest prices for not just airfare but other associated travel costs, such as accommodations. Many travellers opt for winter, which is the low season, instead. Travel is certainly less expensive during the winter, but some attractions may be closed, and the weather can be quite a bit cooler although still fairly pleasant. To get the best rates, which are often 10 to 20 percent lower than those of high season, and still enjoy all the benefits of the high season, many people buy during the shoulder season. Shoulder seasons occur from mid-April to mid-May, mid-August to mid-September and mid-December to mid-January. Temperatures are warm and pleasant, beaches are less crowded and airfare is affordable.

plane in flight

Many flights arrive and depart from Sydney, however where do you find the best deals?

2. Buy at the right time of the week. Airfares can change over the course of a month, the course of the week and even over the course of a day. Most airlines release their sales for the upcoming weekend during the middle of the week, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays are often the best times to locate good prices. Check travel sites and ticket aggregators to find the best upcoming deals.

3. Schedule your travel carefully, such as your return flights. Just as buying at the right time can save you money, so can travelling at the right time. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be the best days of the week for cheap and even less-crowded travel.

4. Avoid buying the lowest fare unless you are sure it really is the lowest fare. Some budget airlines may charge you extra to check bags while others add on numerous fees for extras, including meals, pets or extra legroom, which results in great deal becoming an expensive proposition. If a deal sounds too good to be true, read the fine print.

5. Be flexible whenever possible. In some cases, travelling at a different time or on a different date can result in much cheaper airfares. Use travel sites to play around with departure and arrival days, times and even airports. Some sites even allow you to book directly through them, which may result in such benefits as airline miles, bonuses or refund programs.

Even though you may have taken every possible step to locate and purchase the best airfare deals available, prices will continue to fluctuate. Have a realistic price in mind, and shop with airlines that feature guaranteed airfare policies so that you can claim a refund or travel voucher if the prices drop again after you book. Those who book about two months ahead of their travel dates are eligible for refunds more than 10 percent of the time, so you can not only reserve the tickets you want on the flight you want, but you can also be confident of achieving the best price possible.