Travel news and advice

The best flight deals in 2019, and the best times to book trips from Hong Kong

  • Airline ticket prices vary considerably depending on when you book and where you’re going. We tell you the cities you can bank on for last-minute bargains ...
  • ... And the destinations you can save most on by booking at different times ahead of your trip – up to 43 per cent on some flights to Japan, for example
PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 8:26pm

Have you thought about where you want to go in 2019? Even if you are not a planner, knowing the best time to search for a flight can make a real difference.

In the age of online travel agencies and do-it-yourself itineraries, the received wisdom is that if you know where you want to go and when you should book your flights as soon as possible. However, new research reveals that this is not always the best approach.

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“Travellers are constantly looking for cheap flight deals, but few of us know how to really work out the best times,” says Matthew Wong, country manager of fare aggregator and travel search website Kayak Hong Kong. “Many people think it just means booking early, but our data shows it really depends on the destination – and for many of Hongkongers’ favourite travel spots, it pays to wait and book flights a little later.”

Kayak’s ‘Best Time to Book’ research reports that Hong Kong travellers book on average 10 weeks in advance for their top searched destinations.

Get your timing right – which could be just a week before you fly – and you can save as much as 43 per cent compared to average airfares. So here is how, when and where to book a flight from Hong Kong to save money.

Save money on a Japan trip

There are three destinations from Hong Kong that really stand out in Kayak’s research in terms of saving money: Tokyo, Fukuoka and Nagoya in Japan. It is possible to get a 43 per cent saving on all three places if you book at the right time.

For Tokyo, book in September for a trip in November, and for Fukuoka, book in October for a trip in November to save big. For Nagoya, book in mid-July or early August for a trip in September. Kayak reports that 26 per cent of Hong Kong travellers wait until the last month before travelling to book their flights, so for them, Japan should be high on the list for a money-saving trip in 2019.

Book before breakfast

It appears that Hong Kong travellers are stuck in a bad habit that isn’t saving them money. According to Kayak’s data, their favourite time to book is after work on Monday nights between 10 and 11pm. That is corroborated by data from Skyscanner, which reported recently that its app is most heavily used in Hong Kong between 11pm and 1am.

However, data from Kayak indicates that 4am on Friday is actually the best time to book to get the lowest prices.

SkyScanner vs Google Flights vs Kayak in cheap flight tickets war

Last-minute bargains are still possible

Surely the days of grabbing a bargain a few days before you fly have gone? Not so, according to Kayak, whose data suggests that it is the perfect time to book a trip to some trending destinations.

Savings of around a third can be had just one week before departure on flights to Istanbul, Turkey in May, and to Xian, China in November, while a seat to Phnom Penh, Cambodia in July can be booked most cheaply just two weeks before.

Plan far ahead for Taipei

Fancy a last-minute getaway to Taipei? Forget it. Despite the Taiwanese capital ranking first among Hong Kong travellers’ most searched destinations during 2018, data from Kayak suggests that the best time to book a flight from Hong Kong is 5½ months in advance. That way, you can save up to 17 per cent on the cost of the flight.

If you want that kind of saving, start your search in May for a trip to Taipei in November, the cheapest month to travel. Other destinations that require earlier booking than most include Singapore, where May is the cheapest month to travel and bookings should be made 4½ months ahead; Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where November is cheapest and booking four months ahead is best, and; Bangkok, where the cheapest month to travel is September and booking three months ahead is best.

Book two months out for Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka … and London

Among the most popular city breaks for Hongkongers, Taipei is very much an exception, and there are a few places where it is possible to save big on airfare by booking just two months in advance. That is true of London, with November being the cheapest month to travel to make a 25 per cent saving.

Tokyo on the cheap: how to save money on your next Japan trip

You can save at least as much if you book six weeks ahead for a trip to Seoul, South Korea in September or six weeks ahead for a trip to Osaka, Japan in October.