Sometimes searching for the cheapest flight becomes a grueling process of comparing prices from several different websites, finally booking a flight, and then seeing the price drop drastically a week later. For some of us (aka me) booking flights has become somewhat of a game, and trust me, I’m very competitive with games. I like to always find the cheapest flights possible and make sure I get the best deals. Here are some tips for how you can also save money and book the cheapest flights anywhere.
- Figure out the Best Search Engines:
There are a few different search engines I use to compare flights which always give me the best rates.
Airfare Watchdog- Good to check for hidden flight deals
Google flights- Easy to use, but not always the best prices
Skiplagged- Great, but use at your own risk. (We’ll get to that in number 5)
JetRadar- Great for finding deals on budget airlines
As I said, Skyscanner is by far my favorite site and I find the best deals through them, but I still suggest checking the other sites as well to compare prices. You will most likely end up back on Skyscanner and booking your flight through them, but it’s always better to check them all out.
2. Check out Budget Airlines:
I think budget airlines often get a bad reputation that they do not deserve. OK, if you want the best flight experience possible, you definitely shouldn’t fly with a budget airline, but if your goal is to get from Point A to Point B at an affordable rate, then go for the budget airline.
Some notes on budget airlines:
-Always check what is included in your flight before booking. Often with budget airlines, you have to pay extra for bags or food. With some airlines, you even have to pay extra if you don’t print your boarding pass ahead of time. Please please read the fine print!
-Read reviews on the comfort level of the airline. I usually take these reviews lightly because it seems that people love to bash airlines, but if you are a tall person flying on a budget airline for a ten-hour flight, you are going to want something with some legroom. Things like this do matter.
-Check the airport location. Some budget airlines don’t fly out of the main airport in the city. For example, Ryanair in London flies out of Gatwick airport not the main airport, Heathrow. To get to Gatwick from Heathrow is approximately a 40-minute drive.
3. Be Flexible with your Dates:
It’s crazy how much flight prices can fluctuate if you fly on one day vs. another. If your dates are flexible, check Skyscanner. You can search within a date range, whole months, or leave the dates completely open. It’s great and will give you a better idea of when it is cheapest to fly.
4. Be Flexible with your Destination:
If you’re in need of a vacation but are not completely set on a destination, you can compare where it is cheapest to fly and narrow down your search that way. Skyscanner is great for this. On either the website or app, as your destination type “Everywhere” and it will give you the cheapest places to fly to based on your location. You can then narrow down your list to places that seem interesting to you. Hey! If your dates are flexible you can search flexible dates as well.
Story Time: When I lived in Germany I did this frequently for weekend trips around Europe. By searching “Everywhere” and going where the flights were the cheapest I was able to fly to Munich, Amsterdam, and Rome for under $40 round trip.
5. Consider Hidden City Tickets:
This can be a bit risky to do, but I’ll put it out there for you all anyway. Sites like Skiplagged offer hidden city tickets. Let me break it down for you.
Let’s say you want to go from Boston to Berlin, but all the flights are really expensive. You can search on Skiplagged and maybe there is a flight deal from Boston to Istambul with a stopover in Berlin that is $200 cheaper. In theory, you can just exit the airport in Berlin and skip the final leg of your flight.
The problem with this is that airlines are cracking down on this behavior and might cancel your flight back. I would not risk this unless you are only booking a one-way flight. Also, remember if you do this you can not check any luggage in.
6. Don’t Wait to Book your flight:
Yes, there is always a chance your flight might get cheaper with time, but it is unlikely, especially if you are flying with a budget airline. Budget airlines tend to raise their prices as a flight starts to get booked because it means that flight is popular. I try to book my flight between 6 and 4 months in advance and have had the best luck that way.
7. Consult a Travel Agent:
Sometimes (although definitely not always) travel agents have access to special deals that are not available to the public. I suggest doing your own flight research first and then seeing if a flight attendant can find a cheaper rate for you.
Story Time: A friend of mine was booking a flight with multiple stopovers and could not seem to find a good rate. He went to a travel agent who found him a flight for $300 cheaper than his search results. When she went through the itinerary with him he noticed that it said “Wheelchair requested” so, naturally he asked her why it said this. Her response was, “Well the only way I can get you this rate is if you take these flight but there is only a 15 minute time window between the first flight and the second flight so I put down that you need a wheelchair. They have to by law hold the plane for someone in a wheelchair. I do it for all my customers.”
My friend felt a bit strange about it, but just pretended to limp off the plane, got in the wheelchair waiting for him, and sure enough, the next plane was waiting at the gate.
Ethical? Not so much. Effective? Yeap.
8. Get a Credit Card With Points:
If you are planning on getting a new credit card, check out what kind of point system the card offers and if you can redeem those points towards flights. I don’t have that much experience with this, so I can’t give you a whole lot of info, but if you are a frequent traveler I highly highly recommend Chase Saphire. It is like gold for travelers.
Here is a good breakdown of the best credit cards for travelers from Nomadic Matt.
And that’s all my cheap flight booking tips for you. Leave me a comment and let me know what cheap deals you were able to score!
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