For sure, you have that one city or one country in this world that you really want to visit but just really can’t because of the very expensive airfare that it will cost. For most trips, airfare is one of the most expensive things that you should consider. Even though most airline prices have gone down in recent years and months, they can still cut a large portion in your travel budget. With that, you surely have experienced the tiresome repeated searching of airline tickets when trying to book the cheapest possible flights to the destinations you like. So whether you are a budget solo traveler or a family looking to vacation abroad, it is really important to be able to deal with a cheap airline price ticket.
After all, if your airline ticket is too expensive, you will most likely put the trip off. But where will you look if there are endless search engines and there are continually fluctuating prices? What will you do if the approach to cheap flight booking is overwhelming? Do not worry because there are definitely ways and steps on how to look for the best and amazing deals that airlines put every day. If you just know where to look, you will definitely find and book frugal fares that can make your dream trip a reality. Hence, this article will help you master the art of finding a cheap flight. Here are some of the important tips and steps that will definitely save you time, frustration and most importantly money when booking your next flight:
- Do Not Believe The Myths Of Airline Tickets
One of the first things you should know about looking for a cheap flight is that there is no magic or any secret tricks in order to do so. With a number of circulating myths online about how to find cheap flights, you have most likely come across some of them when you searched on how to book the best airline deals. This is us telling you that most of these secrets or tricks are mostly 100% false and not true. These myths include, but are not limited to:
- It is cheaper to book airline tickets on a Tuesday.
- Searching via incognito leads to cheaper deals.
- There are exact dates or specific time period in which to book your airfare
- You can predict airline prices through websites
These myths are false and you should not believe them in the first place because it will only make you frustrated. Airlines use the most advanced computer and pricing algorithms in order to determine prices and run sales based on the time of the year, passenger demand, weather, major events or festivals, time of day, competitor prices, fuel prices, and much more. With that, these tricks or secrets do not work because the airline system is too advanced and technological.
- Be Open in Changing Your Travel Dates and Times
Day of the week, time of year, and upcoming holidays or events, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, and the likes can strongly affect the prices of airline tickets. For example, during holidays such as Christmas, most people around the other part of the world would like to go to Europe or the United States to spend some white Christmas; or those from other places would like to spend their August around Europe because of its good season; or some just really want to go somewhere or travel when the kids are out of school or when it is semestral break. In a nutshell, these periods of time can greatly affect your travel costs because if you are going to fly when everyone is flying, then your ticket is going to cost more.
With that, it is important to be open-minded with your travel dates and time. Flexibility regarding such will help you land a cheaper airline ticket. So if you are really determined on flying to France, then try going to France in the spring or fall when there are fewer people who visit the country, and when airfares are way cheaper. We strongly suggest that you fly during the off-season. If you really want to land a good airline ticket price, you should definitely try searching for alternative dates so that you can capitalize on the best day. The more rigid your plans, the less likely it will be that you find a deal.
Furthermore, we highly suggest that you fly during the middle of the week than on a weekend because it is almost always cheaper. The reason behind this is because most people travel on the weekends, hence most airlines increase their prices then. In addition to that, airline ticket costs are also cheaper if you fly after a major holiday. Early-morning or late-night flights are also way cheaper compared to flights in the middle of the day because more people usually travel in such times. In short, the difference of one day can mean a significant save for your travel funds.
Airlines raise prices accordingly depending on what holiday, festival, event, season, school break and the likes. The system that airlines have is so advanced that they know when to hike airline ticket prices depending on the amount of people who would like to travel in specific times and dates. With that, we highly suggest that you try to be as flexible as possible with your travel dates and times so that you will likely be able to save yourself some money.
- Adjust Your Destinations
If you have a problem in adjusting your travel date and time, then at least be flexible with where you fly. It is usually suggested to be flexible in both your travel date and destination, but if your situation does not allow it, at least need to be flexible with one or the other if you really want to save the most money and get a cheap flight for your trip. Airline search engines (which will be elaborated further in the next item) have made it really easy to search the entire world in order to find the cheapest ticket possible. With these applications and websites, you no longer have to search manually, city by city, or day by day. Skyscanner, Momondo, and Google Flights are just some of the search engines and websites you can use. They all offer explore tools that permit you to encode your home airport and see a map of the world with all the flights you can choose from. This is especially helpful because it allows you to easily compare several destinations without having to think and evaluate every possible option. In fact, this might interest you more because you will likely even find some interesting destinations you didn’t even know in the first place.
One of the things you should know about airfare is that there is always a deal to some destination, however it might just not be the place of your choice. But, if you adjust enough on where you want to go, you will end up with a good deal and will surely save a ton of money in doing so. You are likely to be stuck with whatever price shows up when you are only fixed into one place at one time. However, when you are flexible, you will be shocked by all the possibilities, whether in saving money for your trip or the places you could go.
- Utilize Search Engines and Websites
You should definitely utilize multiple search websites in order to find the best deal for your trips. However, it is a known fact that several major search sites do not list budget carriers or obscure foreign carriers because those airlines do not want to pay a booking commission. Other search websites do not list booking sites that are written in English, which if you do not read the language becomes useless. Some search websites just reflect the prices retrieved directly from airlines, thus these websites do not help you in any way. With that, not all flight search websites are created equal and all have their pros and cons.
Since there is no perfect airline search engine, it is logical to search for a few and then compare them. If you use only some with the best features, you will surely land with a good airline ticket deal. Here are some of the best search engines you can use:
- Google Flights
Image lifted from: https://skift.com/2020/01/22/google-flights-ends-booking-charges-for-airlines-that-paid/
Google flights is an online flight booking search service which allows the purchase of airline tickets through third-party suppliers. Google flights allows open-ended searches based on criteria other than the destination. For example, you may search for flights within a range of times and a budget and be offered various destination choices. Alternatively, you can select a destination, and Google Flights will calculate every price for each day of the next 12 months, visualized in a graph or table. This allows you and other users to easily spot the cheapest date to fly to the destination.
Image lifted from: https://www.frommers.com/slideshows/848046-the-10-best-and-worst-airfare-search-sites-for-2020
Momondo is one of the best search engines you can utilize if you want to find the cheapest airfares, especially if you need to book on the last minute. In recent times, Momondo now offers direct booking on its own site. It is one of the most transparent search engines out there. In fact, it displays its own price first but also includes fares from other sites and the airlines itself that sometimes beat it. Its results screen is also helpful because it is one of the most complete in terms of all the intel it offers in its dashboard. Furthermore, Momondo also offers that “Anywhere” option that displays cheap fares from any departure city.
The pros of Momondo are: it has excellent results overall; it provides shortcuts to your choice of the cheapest, quickest, or best overall results; it also shows a nifty fare calendar graph that covers the average prices for other days, which is usually one week before and two weeks after each flight; it also shows fare alerts; it also has an additional feature called “Flight insight” for your destination of choice, which covers the cheapest and most expensive fares, pegged to season, airline, time of departure, day of the week, and the likes); and it also shows price for same flight from multiple airline search engines. The cons of momondo are: usually, momondo does not offer the cheapest price; and it canvasses so many international airlines and discounters that you are required to do due diligence on unfamiliar airfare-selling outlets before purchasing.
Image lifted from: https://www.frommers.com/slideshows/848046-the-10-best-and-worst-airfare-search-sites-for-2020
Skyscanner is also one of the best airline search engines out there. Other than its great user interface, which is definitely a great app for mobile phones, it is also one of the first engines to include low-cost airlines and it remains an excellent tool in order to find some of the lowest fares available in the market. In addition to that, Skyscanner also has decent filters, a flexible date which features a whole month calendar and graph on every search, and the ability to search for destinations in an entire country rather than just one city by typing “Everywhere” in the destination field for a list of cheap fares from any departure airport.
The pros of Skyscanner are: it features the best and lowest fares available in your chosen destination; it shows price for the same flight from multiple airline search engines or websites; it can provide a whole month of fares on a calendar for flexible dates; it shows which airline actually operates a codeshare; it has fare alerts; and it offers good vacation packages for you and your family. The cons of SkyScanner are: it is not usually suggested for last minute flights; it does not include baggage fees; and it clutters organic results with sponsored results, though it must be noted that they differentiate them very clearly.
There are definitely a lot more different airline search engines and websites available on the internet. However, these three are the top tiers when it comes to searching the lowest airline tickets available in the market. With that, they are definitely one of the most comprehensive booking sites out there, especially that they have the lowest price 99% of the time. If you really want to find the best possible deals, then you should definitely try these search engines out.
- 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 as little as $250 each way.
AirAsia offers crazy-cheap deals around Asia and Australia for under $100 USD each way.
Indian and Middle Eastern airlines offer cheap flights throughout the subcontinent and Africa.
These days, you can fly most of the way around the world on a budget airline. Sure, they might not be as comfortable and you may need to pay for premium upgrades like checked bags and meals, but they bring the world to your doorstep without breaking the bank.
Here is a list of the biggest budget airlines in the world:
- Air Asia
- Tiger Air
- Jeju Air
- Hong Kong Express
- Peach Air
- Spice Jet
- Spring Airlines
- Nok Air
- T’Way Airlines
- Vanilla Air
- Cebu Pacific
- Lion Air
- VietJet Air
Pro tip: If you aren’t sure which budget airlines fly where, visit your departure airport’s website to get a list of airlines that fly there.)
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 often 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.
Search for airline error and sale fares
Airlines sometimes make mistakes when posting their fares, leading to seriously discounted flights. This can happen for various reasons – currency conversion mishaps, technical glitches, or human error. If you’re in the know-how on where to find airline error fares, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars on a ticket.
One of the most popular sites for tracking sale and error fares is Scott’s Cheap Flights (or if you’re in the UK, check out Jack’s Flight Club). The website has a dedicated team that scours the internet for flight deals every day. Just make an account and enter your departure airport, and you’ll start getting flight deals sent to your inbox. There’s also a premium plan for only $49/year (a 14-day free trial is available), which gives you access to even more flight deals with even deeper discounts. Considering members save an average of $550 per ticket, this is well worth the cost!
Other sites like AirFare Watchdog and Secret Flying are great resources to stalk for finding mistake and sale pricing, as they conglomerate slashed ticket rates all in one spot. You can also read our detailed how-to guide which spells out how to find mistake fares on your own. One great approach is to search for flights for an entire month using Skyscanner (Tip #3 in this article). This will allow you to easily spot a significantly reduced fare against what’s displayed that month, and has twice helped us stumble on error fares ourselves.
Below is a real-time list of today’s top sale fares from AirFare Watchdog (use the search box to find your departing city).
Don’t Always Fly Direct
Not only does it help to be flexible with dates and destinations but being flexible with the route you take is another way to get a cheap flight. For example, sometimes it’s cheaper to fly to London and take a budget airline to Amsterdam than to fly direct to Amsterdam from your departure city.
I did precisely this when I was going to Paris. The flight from the US was $900 USD, but I could fly to Dublin for $600 and get a $60 flight to Paris. It meant more flying time, but the $240 USD I saved was worth it to me.
To use this method, find out how much it is to go directly to your destination. Then, open Google Flights and type in that destination’s continent to look at prices to nearby airports. If the difference is more than $150 USD, I look to see how much it is to get from the second airport to my primary destination (either by budget flight or train, if it’s not too far)
If you do book separate segments, be sure to have at least three hours between connections. This will give you space in case there is a delay as your second flight won’t wait for you (you booked with a separate airline, so they won’t care if you’re late or not).
Leaving a three-hour buffer will also cover you for an insurance claim since most insurance companies require you to have at least a 3-hour delay before you can make a claim.
This method is more work since you have to figure out lots of different routes and check different airlines. But it can lower the price of your flight, which is worth the extra effort if you end up saving a few hundred bucks.
6. Keep an Eye for Special Deals
Before you start looking for specific lights, make sure you’ve signed up for some newsletters. Joining the mailing list for airlines and last-minute deal websites will give you access to the absolute best deals out there. Sure, 99% of the might not fit your itinerary but keeping your eye on the deals will ensure you don’t miss an amazing deal.
More often than not, cheap flights are only available for a limited window (usually 24 hours). If you aren’t always scouring the web for sales, you’ll likely miss out the best deals.
I would have missed out on a round-trip ticket to Japan for $700 USD (normally $1,500) as well as a $500 flight to South Africa if I wasn’t signed up to flight deal websites.
Additionally, airline newsletters often offer frequent flier bonuses. If you’re a travel hacker, those points and miles can add up to free flights and awesome upgrades.
Aside from joining airline newsletters, the best websites for finding travel deals are:
- Airfarewatchdog – Great for searching US flight deals.
- The Flight Deal – Great for global flight deals.
- Holiday Pirates – The best for European flight deals.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights – The BEST for US flight deals.
- Secret Flying – A great site for flight deals from around the world
8. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
If you are a student (or under 26), there are many, many discounts available to you. You can usually find prices 20-30% off the standard fare. Travel agencies like Flight Centre can help find you a cheap ticket. Don’t overlook them!
Additionally, keep in mind that most student discounts transfer over to airline partners. For example, Delta offers a student discount which means you can use that discount on partner airlines such as KLM and Air France. This will allow you to go much further afield while still saving a ton of money.
If you’re not sure which airlines offer discounts, visit their website or call them. Doing a little digging to save 20% (or more) will be worth it!
9. Mix and Match Airlines
When you book directly with an airline, you’ll only be able to fly that airline and any partner airlines it has. That means your options will be limited when it comes to finding the perfect itinerary or saving the most money.
Usually, that will suffice. However, if you’re chasing greater savings, try booking your tickets on separate airlines. For example, if you’re flying from New York to Paris, you might have a stop in London. Booking both legs as one ticket will be simple, but it likely won’t save you money.
Instead, book your New York to London flight as one ticket and then your London to Paris ticket with another airline. That will allow you to shop around for the best bargain. it’s more work, but the savings (and flexibility) can be worth it.
This is what most third-party booking websites like Kiwi.com do. They piece together trips using whatever flights they can find to ensure you get the cheapest price.
If you’re hunting for the lowest possible price and aren’t happy with what you’re finding on the airline’s website, try booking separate segments. You might just stubble onto a great deal!
10. Use Points and Miles
As soon as you know you want to travel somewhere you should sign up for a travel rewards card. Airline rewards programs are the #1 way avid travelrs like me earn free flights, travel perks, and free hotel stays. They offer flight upgrades, huge welcome bonuses, credit toward rideshares like Uber or Lyft, access to free events, access to airport lounges, and much more.
No matter how often you fly, you should be signed up for a reward program. You don’t need to do any extra spending either. 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).
Search Ticket Prices for Individual Travelers
If you’re traveling with friends or family, don’t search for or buy multiple tickets in a single purchase. Airlines always show the highest ticket price in a group of tickets which means you’ll end up paying more money.
For example, if you are a family of four and you’re searching for four seats, the airline will find four seats together and show your fare based on the highest ticket price. So if seat A is $200, seats B and C are $300, and seat D is $400, it will price those tickets as $400 each instead of adding up the individual ticket prices. If the price difference is large, that translates into a sizeable extra expense.
For that reason, always search for tickets as a single person. Afterward, in the checkout process, you can pick your seats so you and your family are sitting together. And even if you end up not beside one another, that’s a fair trade for saving a few hundred dollars.
12. Look for Tickets in Other Currencies
If your country’s currency is currently strong compared to others around the world, search airfare in a country where the currency is weaker.
For example, when the US dollar was strong and the New Zealand currency weak, I found a one-way flight from Australia to NYC for $1,000 USD. However, when I searched on the New Zealand version of the airline, I found the same ticket for $600 USD.
It was the same airline, same flight, and same booking class — it was just booked in a different currency. This tip does not always work, but it works often enough that it’s something worth trying if your currency is currently doing well.
13. 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.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, though, so use it as a guide. At the end of the day, saving a few bucks isn’t worth the hours and hours spent hunting for a deal. When you find a decent price, just book it. It may not be the rock-bottom fair you hoped, but it’s better than paying more when the price inevitably rises!