Booking your international air travel to join-up with the Yatra can be a nerve-wracking experience.
Here are a few tips and guidelines to help you.
You can do this!
Booking your tickets directly has some advantages, as you can directly control your arrangements. You will find several tips on this page to help you. Be relaxed and stay flexible.
But if you decide you’d rather not – no problem! Ditta Kaur is the travel agent for the Yatra and will be with us for the entire trip. You can contract directly with her as your agent to handle your flights. She lives in Brazil, but that is no problem. Her company is Ideal Viagens (it means “Bon Voyage” in Portuguese). You can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her website at www.idealviagens.tur.br
When to buy your tickets
So many factors affect airfare pricing, there’s an element of guesswork in finding the best time to book an international flight. Most airlines release their tickets around eight months in advance, and then later they check how well the tickets are selling before deciding whether to drop prices to encourage sales. Sometimes, I have seen “summer sales,” when international flights get discounted in the summer months. But rarely that makes a difference with flights to India.
Generally, airlines offer their cheapest international airfares three to four months prior to the departure date, and ticket prices then rise as the departure date approaches. The cheapest days to book and to fly are usually midweek.
What kind of tickets to buy
Most airlines require immediate payment when you book a ticket. As a rule, the more flexible the ticket is, the more expensive it is. You can buy fully refundable tickets at a premium price or non-refundable tickets at a cheaper price. For myself, I always buy non-refundable tickets that are changeable with a fee. If I have to cancel my flight for some reason, I can retain the value of the ticket, less a $300 change fee, to put towards another flight on that airline within one year. This is a decision you need to make, depending on how certain you are that you will be able to go. And, by the way, all tickets purchased directly from an airline (not from a discount site such as Expedia or Kayak) are fully cancelable and refundable within 24 hours of purchase. That’s the law – so if you hit the “buy” button, and then realize you made a mistake, you can just cancel the purchase.
There are four classes of service – Economy, Premium Economy, Business, and First. Business and First class are just amazing and are hugely expensive (“Oh, are we here already? Can I stay on board and finish my movie?”). Economy will be the cheapest, but the seats will be cramped, and you will pay for all “extras,” such as checked bags. Premium Economy will be a much more civilized experience for a long-haul flight such as India. You will get up to 6” more legroom and up to 3” more pitch in the recline. A Premium Economy ticket will cost several hundred dollars more, but that is only $10 an hour over a 20-hour flight. Worth it, in my opinion.
You will pay extra for luggage with most tickets these days, and it is cheaper to pay that up front when you buy your ticket. So even though it is aggravating, select and pay for the option of at least one checked bag.
Where to buy your tickets
Online sites like Google Flights, Expedia, Kayak and Skyscanner compare the airfares of major airlines and display up-to-date prices on international fares. (Before searching, read the important Search Tip below.) Input the destination, departure, and return dates, and number of travelers to begin searching. You will get some great information about what the price range is and what airlines fly that route. Pay attention to crazy-long layovers or multiple stops and eliminate those prices from your comparison.
Though flight comparison websites provide information on airfares, don’t buy your ticket from these sites. Booking directly with the airline is the best way to go. Direct booking is often cheaper and, more importantly, you have a direct connection with the airline if something goes wrong. Even if the airline’s price is the same or even slightly more expensive than the price offered on the comparison site, bonuses like frequent-flier miles can make booking direct worthwhile. An international ticket is a big investment and you want whatever customer service you can get just in case things don’t go as planned.
Important Search Tip: Until you are ready to buy, do your internet search in PRIVATE MODE. Each flight search engine (and non-travel websites) use a tracking tool called “cookies” to remember your search history. While this can be convenient, the seller knows you are shopping for a particular route and they will not offer you the lowest fare. It is creepy, but true. By browsing in a private browser session, you might able to find a lower price because the website cannot use their tracking cookies to determine any previous browsing history you might have had.
What route and what dates to buy
You will want to fly into and leave from the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). If you are coming just for the Yatra, please arrive between 2PM on Tuesday, November 5th and 9AM on Wednesday, November 6th.
Select a route that has a minimum of layovers, that will ensure that you will have the shortest journey possible and the greatest chance of your bags arriving with you. For the stops that you have to make, make sure that the layover is not less than one hour. With short layovers you run the risk of your bags not making it to the plane! I always opt for 2 hours, so that I can relax and find some food.
Consider coming early to Delhi!
Don’t underestimate the power of jet-lag when you turn your time zones upside down. For me, it takes a minimum of three days to adjust, so I will be arriving in Delhi at least by the 3rd of November. Consider that as an option for yourself as well. You can book at the same hotel, the Metropolitan Hotel and Spa, we will pick you up at the airport, and you will have a few days to rest and acclimate before starting on the great adventure of the Yatra.
I hope these tips help you in booking your ticket. Be sure to let us know your flight details, and we’d be happy to verify they are right before you press the “buy” button. We look forward to spending this time with you on the Light of Guru Nanak Yatra.
Sat Nam and wishing you all the best in your travels,
Shanti Kaur Khalsa
Light of Guru Nanak Yatra