>  Advice   >  Why you shouldn’t book the cheapest flight

I am big fan of saving money when it comes to travel but here is a cautionary tale about why you shouldn’t always book the cheapest flight. While the prospect of saving $60 had been irresistible, my current situation was anything but. Harsh fluorescent lights cast an eerie glow over my weary fellow passengers as an overhead speaker informed us our flight was still delayed. Stuck in a transit time warp awaiting a connecting flight I feared would never come, there was one thing of which I was certain: when it comes to airfares the cheapest deal is not always the best value. The lure of a significant saving on flights can be hard to resist but sometimes it pays to look beyond sheer economics. Had I flown direct to my destination I would have already arrived and been onto my second glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

This was before my connection was even due to depart, even if it had been on time. With the delay I probably wasn’t going to get there until bedtime. That long, frustrating day of travel will never be forgotten but the $60 I saved is a distant memory. Sitting in that transit lounge I would have gladly paid double that amount just to get out of there. Rather than setting your sights on paying the lowest possible price for your airfare, it can be wise to consider what equates to ‘maximum value’. A long transit time might save a few dollars but even if everything runs according to plan, it will likely have you arriving at your much longed for holiday destination feeling exhausted.

It can be better to pay a little extra for a direct flight and arrive in better shape, particularly when you are travelling with children. If you are heading off to enjoy a bit of hotel heaven, earlier is definitely better (and worth paying for) when it comes to flights. There is not a moment to lose when it comes to tropical sunsets and sipping cocktails by a swimming pool the size of a football field. Some exclusive resorts cost upwards of $1000 a night so it is smarter to be on the first flight which gets in at 9am rather than the slightly cheaper one at 4.00pm. Even if the room isn’t ready, the luxe in-house facilities are yours to enjoy from the moment you arrive. Every hour should be savoured when you are paying to stay somewhere this special.

Disclosure: The writer has learned the hard way that the cheapest flight is not always the best option.

Want tips that save time, money and your sanity when you’re flying or at the airport? Check out our suggestions for how to pass the time at an airport with kids, how to access airline lounges (even if you’re not a member), and how to make the most of a stopover.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.