Ultimate Guide To Finding Cheap Flights
Have you ever experienced this scenario? You’re talking to a friend or colleague about the flights you’ve just booked to some exotic destination for your next vacation, only for them to turn around and tell you that they’ve booked flights to the same destination for hundreds of dollars less! It can be infuriating; just think of all the things you could spend that money on when you arrive at your destination.
This doesn’t have to happen to you ever again! With the tips below you can ensure that you always get the cheapest flights in any circumstance.
Here are our tips for snagging Flight Deals.
- Be flexible with your destinations
If you can’t be flexible when you fly, at least be flexible with where you fly. It’s best to be both, but if you really want to save the most money and get a cheap flight for your trip, you should at least do one!
Airline search engines have made it really easy to search the entire world to find the cheapest ticket, you no longer have to search manually. While Kayak offers the “Explore” tool that allows you to put in your home airport and see a map of the world with all the flights on it, Google Flights also has a similar and better tool to use.
- Use Search Engines
Search Engines are my best friend and go to for booking any budget trip. Hopper, SecretFlying, Momondo, Skyscanner, and Google Flights (great for searching multiple cities) are all great sites for picking up a great flight deal.
- Hopper is a mobile app that tells you when is the best time to buy. Using historic flight pricing, Hopper shows you when a flight is at it’s cheapest.
- SecretFlying is a free site that provides details to the most incredible glitch fares or flight deals available. If you like a deal, proceed to book with a third-party online travel agent or directly from the airline.
- Google Flights lets you quickly find and compare flights between airports on certain days and monitor flight prices. This by far my favorite for finding new places to fly and cheap travel days.
- Momondo is a free independent travel search site for major and budget airlines.
- Skyscanner is a travel fare aggregator website and travel metasearch engine.
- Fly budget carriers
Years ago, if you wanted to fly between continents, you were mostly stuck with traditional expensive airlines. That’s no longer true. Budget airlines now service many long-haul routes, making it possible to fly around the world for very little money. Norwegian Airlines allows you to fly between Europe and Bangkok for about $250 each way. AirAsia offers crazy-cheap deals around Asia and Australia for as little as $100 each way. Indian and Middle Eastern airlines offer cheap flights throughout the subcontinent and Africa. You can fly most of the way around the world on a budget airline!
Here is a list of the biggest budget airlines in the world:
Flying the budget airlines is a good alternative to flying “the majors” whenever possible. You get fewer perks, but you can save a bundle in price.
Just be sure to watch out for fees. That’s how they make money! Budget airlines sometimes charge fees for checked bags, carry-ons, printing your boarding pass, using a credit card, and anything else they can get away with. Be sure to add up the cost of the ticket AND the fees to make sure that the price is lower than a larger carrier.
- Use Points and Miles
Airline rewards programs are a great way to get free flights, free upgrades, and free companion tickets. No matter how often you fly, you should be signed up for the airline’s reward program.
However, you can earn a lot of miles through credit card sign up bonus, online shopping, surveys, special offers, and more. I earn over a million miles a year – without flying or spending extra money. That translates into dozens of free flights (often in business class) for myself and my family. If you are smart with your money and collect points and miles (the art of “travel hacking”), you can travel around the world for very little (and often free). Here are some articles on travel hacking that can help:
- Book early, but not too early
Airline fares will keep rising the closer you get to departure, but there is a sweet spot when the airlines begin to either lower or increase fares based on demand. Don’t wait until the last second but don’t book far, far in advance either. The best time to book your flight is around 6–8 weeks before your departure, or around three months before if you are going to your destination during their peak season.
Finding a cheap flight is about being flexible and smart in where you go, when you go, and how you get there. Follow the tips above, but don’t waste forever finding a cheap flight. If you’re spending more than an hour booking a flight, you’re spending too much time. Spend 30-40 minutes finding and booking a cheap flight at a price you’re OK paying and move on with your life. I never second-guess myself on flights. You’ll go crazy if you do.
- Sign Up For Cheap Fare Alerts
In addition to searching on multiple flight search engines, I also recommend you set up fare alerts for each one. Punch in the details about your intended destination, a range of dates, and let the website alert you via email when prices drop.
There are also a few dedicated airfare websites you should definitely check on a regular basis, or sign up for. These sites scour the internet for the best deals possible, doing all the work so you don’t have to.
- Get your money back.
Have you ever been bumped off a flight? Did you know that you may actually be eligible for some compensation from the airline? New website AirHelp can advise you of any potential compensation and help you apply for it. You may even be eligible for a refund if your ticket price drops after you purchase! Another website, Yapta, will track your flight details and let you know if it drops after you purchase.
- Take Advantage of Error Fares
Another great technique to learn when it comes down to how to find cheap flights is booking error fares. Error fares are when an airline essentially gets its pricing wrong, and they release seats on routes that are well below the normal rate.
You can score exceptional deals if you are lucky enough to find them, but once booked, they aren’t always honored by the airlines.
It doesn’t have to be a matter of luck either, as there are plenty of websites dedicated to searching daily for these error fares, so join mailing lists to find out about them. Just remember though, that you have to act fast to get the fare.
- Be Patient and Persistent
Sometimes getting a great deal is no walk in the park. As the old saying goes, anything worth having doesn’t come easy. Sometimes you really have to work for it. You’re likely going to have to hunt and search for applicable dates, toggle from one airfare search engine to the next, but it is well worth it.
Do you have any other tips? Share them with our readers in the comments below!