When it comes to traveling, the sky is the limit – literally. Most of the time, the tickets are so expensive that we give up the idea of going altogether. However, frequent fliers found out how to find cheap flights, and shared the knowledge with us.
You heard us right. You can book cheaper flights to the same destination – as long as you are smart about it. The same ticket, for instance, may be more expensive on a Saturday than it is on a Wednesday. This guide will help you crack the moods of a plane ticket so that you can finally enjoy some frugal booking.
Strategies for Booking a Cheap Flight
Choosing a good flight comparison website is a good way to find a good ticket, but those who know how to find cheap flights also know that they have to be smart during their research. Here are some tips for travelers to make sure that their plane ticket price stays low:
1. Use a Good Flight Search Engine
Each search engine may show prices that are higher than the ones you may find at a direct airline, and that’s because they have to take the cut from it. However, some websites inflate the price tickets more than others, so you may want to familiarize yourself with the ones that have the best rates; that’s how to find cheap flights everywhere.
Keep in mind that go flight comparison website is perfect. Each of them will have its drawbacks – some more than others – so you’ll just have to figure out which ones have less. When looking for plane tickets, you may want to try multiple websites to make sure that you are not missing out on anything.
There’s no website that gives the cheapest flights all the time, so you may want to vary your searches. One website that usually offers the most expensive “cheap” flights may actually give you a better offer than the ones that are usually the most reliable of the batch.
2. Go Incognito
Big Brother is everywhere, and in this case, it’s in the form of your browser’s cookies. And if you were wondering: no, you aren’t crazy for believing that the price for your plane ticket suddenly bumped up after you searched it for a couple of times.
And here’s why this happens: if a certain route is repeatedly searched, the sites will want to scare you into buying the plane ticket as fast as you can – so the price will instantly go up. To avoid this from happening, you’ll need to go incognito and become a “private browser.”
Every time you open a private/incognito window, your cookies will reset, and it will be like you never even checked the flight. So if you know that you’ll be checking a price multiple times, always do so with a clean slate. Make sure, however, that you always close all incognito windows before opening and searching again.
3. Figure Out the Cheapest Day for Flying Out
A lot of people say that Tuesday is always the cheapest day for flying, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the cheapest is Tuesday, other times it may be Wednesday or Thursday, and other times it may be the 24th day of the month. You can never know what day is going to be the cheapest.
Indeed, it’s usually cheaper to leave on a weekday, but those that know how to find cheap flights always tell us that we should first get a quick visual on a flight comparison website. You may want to select the monthly option (SkyScanner would be a good example of that) and see which one is the cheapest day for the route that you want.
4. Find the Cheapest Destination
This option is mostly for those who aren’t picky about their destinations and just want to relax somewhere – anywhere. Just go on a flight comparison site, and instead of looking for a date range for a specific destination, do it the other way around.
You will then receive a list of suitable destinations that have very low flight prices. All you’ll have to do is choose the cheapest that suits your taste.
5. Use Travel Agents
Sometimes, booking through a travel agent may be the cheapest option. They offer fairly attractive rates just to sell the tickets and make their agency known. However, that isn’t always the case, so you may want to do a little bit of research first.
Another tip would be to look online for good rates and go with it to the agency, asking if they can beat it or at least match it. If they want to sell those tickets fast, then you may actually get some good offers.
This method is particularly beneficial for long-haul flights when the smallest saving could mean a couple of hundred bucks – which is perfect for those that want to know how to find cheap flights. Plus, you may also be able to extend the layover; this will allow you to relax and enjoy a couple of days in another city rather than sitting around in the airport until your connecting flight.
6. Budget Airlines Are Your Friend
There’s a reason many people go for budget airlines: they are a lot cheaper than those big, full-service ones. However, it doesn’t come without compromises. Remember those “free meals” you would get on the plane and that comfy leg space that allowed you to stretch out when you became stiff? Well, budget airlines won’t offer you those benefits.
When you are going budget, you are no longer paying for extra comfort; you are only paying to get from point A to point B. Here are some tips for flying on budget airlines:
- Check the airport location and whether or not it’s convenient for you. To cut the costs, some budget airlines will land in airports that are further away from the town. It’s perfect for those that want to know how to find cheap flights, but it may be inconvenient if you end up paying more on taxis, trains or buses.
- Make sure that your luggage allowance has been booked and paid for. There are also luggage restrictions that we need to adhere to, such as height and weight. Some airlines will charge a pretty big fee if you go over the restrictions. Keep in mind that paying ONLY for the needed luggage and space is how budget airlines manage to hold on to their low rates.
- Read the fine print for warnings. Some airlines, for instance, will charge you a fairly significant fee if you don’t print your ticket yourself. Always read the instructions and follow them carefully.
Budget airlines may be more restrictive than traditional flights, but that’s exactly what makes them cheaper. If you are on a budget, you probably won’t even need first-class meals, “free” snacks, or other extras; they may be advertised as being free, but in fact, your ticket is covering for them. Nothing “free” actually comes for free.
7. Book the Long-Haul Flights Yourself
We don’t always have the luxury of getting a direct flight to our destinations – especially over very long distances. But when we do, they are so expensive that it once more makes us over think the vacation plans. Still, there ARE ways for you to make than plane ticket cheaper; all you’ll have to do is break it down
Mainly, a good way to save on plane ticket money and actually relax on your vacation is to book the long-haul flights yourself and add another destination in the middle. For instance, if you want to go to Canada from Australia, you may want to add another destination in the middle. Booking a ticket on a budget airline from Sydney to Hawaii and then another one from Hawaii to Montreal may save you an average of $400 compared to what you’d pay for a direct flight.
Keep in mind that booking tight layovers will be extremely exhausting for you since you won’t have the appropriate space and time to recover from the previous flight. This way, not only will you be able to enjoy two of three days in your mid-destination of choice, but you’ll also save on plane ticket money.
When trying to figure out how to find cheap flights, many people tested and confirmed this strategy. Plus, the more middle destinations you add, the cheaper it will get. Add Honolulu in the above example as a layer, and you will have an even cheaper plane ticket.
8. Try the Local Airline
Search engines may be a very convenient tool to have around, but they don’t always include all the airlines – especially the ones in remote or less popular areas. If you’re flying to some obscure place of the earth, you may want to give Father Google a call first and ask if there are any local airlines. You may actually find one that has some crazy cheap rates, but they are so small that the search engine doesn’t even show them.
Make sure to check for deals on their page. Some airlines, for instance, offer deals on certain days of the week – and they may or may not be listed in a search engine.
9. Try Paying with Other Currencies
Sometimes, paying with another currency may be much cheaper than paying with the local currency. While it’s true that some airlines require you to pay with that particular country’s currency, others will give you the benefit of choice.
This strategy on how to search for cheap flights is relatively new, but according to Dailymail, it works like a charm. By simply telling them that you live in another country (as in, the one you are planning to visit), you may end up saving hundreds by simply pretending that you’re not a local.
Long story short, this method is called “fake home location,” and it involves the use of local currency of the country that you are currently planning to visit.
10. If You’re Certain, Don’t Wait
It’s very rare for plane tickets to get cheaper as the day of your departure approaches; if anything, it’ll just be more expensive. Budget airlines usually offer cheap “early bird” tickets, and once these tickets start selling, the price will likely go up.
If you know for certain the date and destination, don’t stall. Most of the time, the savings will come by booking your plane ticket as early as you can, because as you know, “the early bird catches the worm.”
Knowing Your Flight Comparison Website
At this point, you barely see anyone booking flights from a travel agency; everyone prefers doing it online themselves. However, there are many websites out there, and not all of them have the same prices. The worst thing that could happen is booking a flight and suddenly finding out that some other site gave it away much cheaper.
Here are the websites compared, and how to find cheap flights using them:
When it comes to low-priced plane tickets, SkyScanner is definitely a go-to. It’s perfect for all sorts of travelers, but it’s especially convenient for those planning a backpacking trip or a random mid-week break.
The great thing about SkyScanner is that it will tell what the most convenient days to fly are. It will tell you the cheapest months for both the departure and return so that you can save money on the plane.
You can also look at the “Go Everywhere” option. If you aren’t picky about your travel choice, then it will tell you what cities or countries are the cheapest to go to.
The Downside: If you book a flight through a third party instead of an airline, you may be required to pay an extra fee if you want to change your date. Plus, sometimes, SkyScanner will quote you a price, and when you go ahead and book it, the price will be much higher. This is why you need to be extra careful and learn how to find error fares.
The ITA Matrix
The name may remind you of something pulled out of a sci-fi movie, but ITA Matrix is actually a very useful tool to have around if you are looking for a cheap flight. Powered by Google, this website is basically an engine for booking flights. It’s an advanced tool that will help you look for a good price on a preferred airline, certain date, and so on.
The Downside: The ITA Matrix may tell you which is the most convenient flight for your budget, but you don’t have the option of actually booking the flight from there. It will tell you your ideal days and everything else, but other than that, you don’t have many other options to go for.
You will probably still have to call the travel agent or the airline itself to book the ticket. It’s probably going to be more of a hassle, but that’s just how to search for cheap flights.
This flight comparison site was acknowledged as one of the best ones by authority websites such as New York Times or CNN for numerous times. Using Momondo, you can search through travel sites, across Airlines, and low-cost carriers again.
The only thing you will have to do is select the month that you want to go, and the website will tell you exactly what the prices will be throughout the month. Once that is done with, all you’ll have to do is pick the cheapest date that works with your schedule.
The Downside: You can only select the monthly option; therefore, it will not let you see which the cheapest flight of the whole year is. You will have to search individually and compare prices.
Unlike SkyScanner that allows you to be flexible with your flights, Kayak is more suited for those that know exactly where they want to go and when. Once these details are down, it will tell you what are some cheap flights during that time (+/- three days).
Once the list of possible flights is ready, you can choose the one that seems ideal for you. The good thing about this website is that it will also predict the fluctuations of airline tickets and will tell you exactly how much the price will change during the following week.
The Downside: As mentioned, Kayak isn’t really for those that prefer to be flexible with their travel plans. To get a good flight proposition, you will need to know your itinerary: when you plan to leave, when you want to come back, where you want to go. Only if you know these details will you be told what the lowest ticket price is. You won’t be told which month is cheaper; however, if you want to leave right away and don’t know how to find cheap flights for adventurous travelers on a budget, Kayak is the one for you.
Coming in complete contrast to Kayak, Adioso is similar to SkyScanner, and then some. It’s the perfect option for those that have a VERY vague idea of what they want to visit during their vacation.
You can literally write in the search engine “flights from Ireland to South Africa next Tuesday,” and you will be shown the cheapest flight options. You can also search by city, keyword, or simply by general region. If you’re a backpacker that holds tightly on their budget, then this website is perfect for you.
The Downside: These flights are very cheap, but if you were to compare them to the other websites, they aren’t as cheap anymore. The date range is not as clear either since it will only show seven days at a time. You’ll have to do some clicking to see the individual prices for every day.
Nowadays, Google is our best friend for pretty much everything – and now, they came up with something that every traveler seems to use every time they need to find a cheap flight.
With Google Flights, you choose the length of your flight, where you want to land and how much you are willing to take out of your budget for it. Once a destination is chosen, you get a visual flight map of the costs of your chosen flights
The Downside: There’s always a downside to every perfect-looking website. Like Adioso, the fares presented here aren’t always the cheapest available. Plus, if you are a flexible traveler, you will not have as much browsing scope. You will have to introduce the exact flight dates instead of date ranges.
When it comes to booking cheap flights, Flightfox uses a pretty new concept: it makes use of people who believe themselves to be “flight experts,” and they will be doing all the work for you.
All you have to do is upload the itinerary that you want to follow, and they will, and they will dig through the internet for the cheapest deal possible. This is a great option if you want to land a cheap flight, but don’t have the time to do the searching yourself:
The Downside: You’ll have to pay $24 for this. Think about it this way: when you look for the flight yourself, you simply use a free engine and calculate everything yourself. However, Flightfox folk need to be paid somehow for their efforts – which explains the fee.
It may not seem like much right now, but it’s like you are adding to the cost of your ticket. You are basically paying more to pay less!
Sometimes, the best way to get some cheap vacations is to go directly to the website of the airline – and that does double if you are a frequent flyer that collects miles or has a preferred carrier.
If you fly often enough with an airline, you may be able to get discounts by calculating your miles, and as a result, your plane tickets will be much cheaper.
Tips on How to Find Cheap Flights
Knowing how to book the cheapest flight possible is probably something only a frequent flier can do. While the strategies above may help initiate you into the arts of flying cheap, they are only the beginning. Experts have even more tips to offer us, and we gathered them all for your benefit.
Buy Your Tickets Late
We know, this goes against what we advised above, regarding being an “early bird.” However, sometimes you may get a cheaper plane ticket by buying at the last minute – and there’s a good reason for that.
To gain profit, planes need to fill their seats. And no one is going to buy last minute seats if the prices are inflated. Therefore, the prices may go back at the early bird stage (or even cheaper) as a measure to attract passengers.
If you don’t mind the suspense and are very flexible with your dates and itineraries, then this option may be the perfect money-saver for you.
Look for Discounters
There is actually such a thing called a “discount airline.” Sort of like a budget airline, they are very cheap and can save frequent fliers a great deal of money. The problem is that they are not as easy to find, and you may have to do some thorough research in order to come across a decent one.
Use Frequent Flier Miles
The more you fly with an airline, the more those airlines will appreciate the fact that you didn’t ditch them for another airline. So to make sure that it stays that way, they will offer rewards for those continuously flying with them.
And why would you pay when you can use miles? Sure, it may be difficult to get a seat like this, and you’ll need to have a good number of flights on board to get those rewards. In order to build those miles faster, you may use travel credit cards as well.
If the Fares Go Down, Ask for a Refund
We know; you hate confrontation. Everyone does. However, if the prices go down after you have already purchased your ticket, you are entitled to ask for a refund. Fair enough, you may not always get it as well (different airline policies), but asking won’t hurt anyone. If you want to know how to find cheap flights, then you need to be cunning as well.
When purchasing your ticket, it may be a good idea to read the policy – just in case. If you purchase the tickets from an airline that you know for certain will offer you a refund, then you know that you at least have that safety net.
Get an Air Pass
As a method of promoting tourism, some airlines give out air passes at a low price for tourists. If your plan is to travel from one region or country to another, then an air pass may be the cheapest option for you.
Go for Off Season Travel
Some months (usually in summer), everyone decides that the weather is perfect to take a vacation. As a result, you have an entire flock of people trying to get on planes and travel the world.
The thing is, the airlines noticed this – so during the high season, they bump up the prices. The demand is high, so why not take advantage of it?
Well, things change during the off-season; planes are no longer that full, so to encourage people to travel, they lower the prices. You learn how to find cheap flights by looking at the flock of people; if the beaches are full, then you may want to sit this one down;
Christmas is cheaper, but it’s still much cheaper to get a flight somewhere mid-spring when it’s getting warmer, with no national holiday in sight.
Fly on the Holiday
You’d think that flying on a holiday would be expensive, but that’s actually the other way around. Those that know how to find cheap flights also know that it’s the before and after that’s very expensive.
On the actual holiday, such as Christmas Day or Thanksgiving, everyone is busy bonding with their family, cozying up in their homes with their loved ones. The last thing they want is to leave. Therefore, during the holiday, airlines are desperate to fill their spots.
The only days that you may want to avoid are Memorial Day or Labor Day; those are the holidays when people tend to travel around the most.
Learning how to find cheap flights can’t be done by yourself, right off the bat. The best thing to do would be to ask professionals – or simply browse the flight comparison websites for clues.
Keep in mind that some days have cheaper fares than others, and the same goes for the method of transportation (budget or discount airlines are the cheapest). The most important thing to keep in mind is that research is always key – but you also need to be smart about the way you research.