As Amelia Earhart said, “Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.” Although, there are times when that price can make you second guess a trip or end up postponing it altogether. Flying is one of the safest and most convenient ways to travel both locally and internationally, but it can also be one of the most expensive. Sometimes ticket prices can break the budget, but this doesn’t have to spell the end of your travel plans. Here are some tips you can follow to save yourself a few dollars when scheduling your flights.
Although there is no precise formula or magical ninja traveling trick to book cheap flight deals, there are some factors that you can take into account to lower the cost of tickets for some flight routes. So, if you want cheaper prices on your next flight tickets, this is what you should do:
Be Flexible With Your Dates
Airlines can vary flight prices significantly depending on the time of year, day of the week, and holidays. The logic is simple, if you fly when everyone flies, your tickets will be more expensive. The trick here is to stay flexible about your travel date and try to fly out of season to capitalize on a good day. So in short, the more flexible you stay when it comes to your travel dates, the more likely you are to get more affordable prices.
Flexibility is key when scheduling cheap flights, and if you can’t maintain that flexibility when it comes to your travel date, it’s good to be flexible on your chosen destination. Although the ideal is always to maintain flexibility with respect to both.
These days there are many different search engines that do the job of finding good prices on tickets to almost anywhere in the world you want to go – even if you’re not sure where you want to go yet. Some search engines Google flights, Momodo, or Skyscanner let you explore the different prices of flight tickets on different dates and available destinations that depart from the airport closest to you. This makes the process of comparing the different prices of the available destinations easier.
You can even find interesting destinations that you may not have considered before. If you are completely open about where you want to go and want to explore different options, you can enter Google flights and click on the map, type in the city where you take off from, the date you want to travel and you will see the large number of options that will appear on the map.
If you are still not sure about the date, you can explore from the “flexible date” option.It may not be the destination you initially envisioned, but when you’re open about your travel destination, you can end up saving a lot of money.
Surely you’ve come across many myths about how to find cheap flights, but the truth is that there is no secret or travel wiz technique to find better deals. Many of these claims wind up being recycled or outdated myths. Almost all of these myths are false and instead of helping you, you can end up missing out on good deals.
- You can’t predict airline prices. The websites that do are usually just logical guesses that typically fail.
- There is no objective evidence that searching in incognito mode results in lower prices. However, incognito mode does help avoid certain price hikes as discussed below.
- It is not always cheaper to schedule a flight on a Tuesday or a specific day of the week.
- There is no exact date or a specific time of the year when there are guaranteed better flight prices.
Airlines today use advanced computerized systems and pricing algorithms based on passenger demand, time of year, competitor prices, fuel prices, weather, and many other factors. So the famous tricks to find better deals are a thing of the past.
The best way to ensure you get the lowest prices is to book as far in advance as possible. Airlines typically raise ticket prices in the three weeks before takeoff. It is ideal to book within three months to 30 days before departure to ensure better rates. Travel search engines like Kayak or Google flights use a price prediction algorithm that analyzes historical price trends to help predict whether ticket prices will go down, up, or stay the same.
We should note that these predictions are not 100%, but they are pretty accurate since they compare the numbers of hundreds of different routes. So, for example, let’s say that you have a few days off soon and you want to take a trip to disconnect from work during vacation, you can get more out of your budget if you schedule your flight as soon as you know the exact date of your days off than if you book it closer to the date of your vacation. Scheduling flights earlier also ensures that you pay less for the seat you want, especially during peak season flights.
Searching for your flights in advance does not mean that you have to buy them the same day you search. Flight prices may go up at the last minute when you are very close to the departure date, but flight prices fluctuate daily. Travel search engines allow you to set an alarm when flight prices increase or decrease. For example, Google flights even show you the different trends in flight prices in a graph, which can come in handy when comparing prices.
Scheduling connecting flights can be a viable way to save yourself some bucks when you’re not in a hurry to get straight to your final destination. Connecting flights are often considerably cheaper than non-stop flights, and nowadays, search engines let you filter flight itineraries by non-stop, 1 stop, or 2 stops or more. You can even fly on mixed airlines and save yourself some more money.
If you’ve noticed that the price of the flight you are looking for goes up after searching the same flight a couple of times, you’re not crazy. After repeatedly searching for the same flight route, the price may go up based on your browser’s cookies. This is mainly because the website you are searching on usually wants to scare you a bit to encourage you to buy the ticket sooner rather than later. To avoid this, try to search for your flights in incognito mode or private search mode to avoid cookies. When you search in incognito mode, your cookies reset every time you open a new window. So, if you want to run a clean flight search without cookies “remembering” your previous searches and potentially driving up costs, close all incognito windows, open a new window and proceed with your flight search.
It can be a bit tricky to get acquainted with the sites that offer the best prices. So, we’ll give you a brief list of the best travel search engines when it comes to usefulness and price range:
- Skyscanner: One of the best options available and our number 1 option.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights: Excellent search engine to find good deals and error fares.
- Airfarewatchdog: Lists the best available deals and error fares in your city.
- Momondo: This broad search engine sometimes shows even better deals than Skyscanner.
- Kiwi.com: This search engine combines all the airlines to create cheaper routes than booking with a single airline on a direct flight. Additionally, it also has a deals page.
- CheapOair. This site says it all in the name and gives a good range of cheap options.
- AirWander: This travel search engine allows you to expand your search allowing you to visit two destinations in a single trip.
- JetRadar: Unlike most search engines, this search engine includes budget airlines.
- Google Flights: Is an excellent tool to compare flight dates, but it does not always show the best offers.
Many budget airlines do not appear in the results of these search engines that we recommend. So if you want to see all the offers, you can do an additional search on the regional budget airlines.
It is worth noting that no search engine is completely perfect and that each one offers different functions. Although you may find lower prices on Skyscanner or Momondo, you may need to use a combination of several search engines to make sure you’re not missing any results.
Traveler’s points are one of the best ways to get discounts on your flights. You may even get a free flight at some point. If you don’t have any traveler’s points you don’t have to worry. Signing up for a travel rewards credit card and hitting the spend minimum can put you in the hot seat for big bonuses – enough to get you a free flight in some cases.
You can sign up for a specific airline rewards card and earn rewards from that particular airline, or you can opt for a more general travel rewards card that lets you collect points from a variety of airlines. A perfect option for beginners can be the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which can earn you over 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after opening the account. This can be the equivalent of $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards and can be enough to pay for a significant chunk of international travel. This card also comes with several benefits like car rental damage waiver, lost luggage, collision insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and no foreign transaction fees. Hence, it’s an excellent all-included travel credit card.
It is better to fly on any day in the middle of the week to get better prices. Fridays and Mondays tend to be more expensive because that’s when most business travelers fly; that’s why airlines raise their prices during the weekends. If you are trying to get better prices on your flights, try to schedule flights on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Statistically, there is a tendency for flight fares to be cheaper during weekdays and especially between 2 to 4 pm since These are the least crowded days and times.
Airlines know when a holiday, major sporting event, or vacation is coming up and they raise their ticket prices accordingly. On dates closer to holidays such as July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, you will see that the prices of the flights are significantly more expensive than at other times of the year. For example, during the August holidays a lot of people travel to Europe, so if you want to go to Europe during this time of the year, be prepared to shell out a good amount of money. In the same way, if you want to go to Hawaii or another tropical destination in the winter, that is when the prices are higher.
There is a belief that if you schedule a flight ticket at the last minute the price will be lower. Many airlines open their unsold seats one to three days before departure. It is possible that you will get an amazing flight deal, but if you’ve set your destination and travel date in advance, it is advisable not to wait until the last minute to schedule your flight since most of the time, flight tickets tend to get more expensive and you may not get a seat. You can use the Last minute site to find amazing last-minute deals. This website also offers cheap last-minute hotel deals to book.
Some travel search engines often inflate costs considerably above the airline price in order to get a percentage of their sales. So, a smart thing to do in this situation might be to use your favorite search engine to see what flight options you have, see what airlines cover those routes, and then search directly for those flights on the airlines’ pages. In this way, you will be able to compare the prices that appear in the travel search engine with the prices offered by the airline’s website. You will realize that in general, the prices that appear on the airline’s website are usually cheaper.
You can also be flexible about the route you take to get to your final destination. Sometimes it can be cheaper to fly to a different airport, country, or city close to where you actually want to go and then take a connecting flight to your final destination.
For example, if you want to go to Amsterdam from the United States, the direct ticket can cost around $900. Instead, it may be cheaper to fly to London for around $600 and then take a $60 budget airline flight to Amsterdam. It might mean more travel time, but for $240 less, it might be worth it. To use this method, first find out when a direct flight leaves for the destination you want to go to. Then in Google flights, type in the search engine the continent or country where your destination is and check the prices to nearby airports. If the difference is more than $150, find out a budget airline flight or a bus or train ticket from the airport to your primary destination. You can also do this when you go back.
When scheduling separate segments, make sure to leave gaps of at least 3 hours between connections to allow time for any potential delays. Leaving 3 hours between connections will also cover you in case you have to use flight insurance, which usually requires at least 3 hours of delay to cover any claim. It is also good to keep in mind some travel packing tips for airport security to pack your bags according to the security regulations of the airport you are traveling to.
Although a large airline can take you to almost any destination and offer excellent service, the price of their tickets can be considerably higher than that of other smaller or budget airlines. Budget airlines offer significantly cheaper tickets than their full-service counterparts. Of course, a lower price usually comes with less legroom or no free food or drinks on board. When traveling on some budget airlines, you may need your own noise-canceling headphones so that the noise of other passengers or the noise of the plane’s turbines do not bother you. Bringing your own travel pillow can also be helpful as the seats on a budget airline plane may not be as comfortable as those on regular full-service airlines.
Although travel search engines are great, they often omit these budget or smaller airlines or don’t show the local airlines of the country you’re going to in their search results, especially on less popular routes. Here is a list of some budget airlines from around the world that you can check to find flight deals at incredible prices:
- Spirit Airlines
- Air Canada Rouge
- Flair Airlines
- Air Asia
- Air Asia
- Jeju Air
- HongKong Express
- Iberia Express
If you go to any of these parts of the world, you can stalk these airlines via Twitter, Facebook, or regularly check budget airline websites to stay up to date on the special offers they offer before they sell out. When you are going to schedule a flight on a budget airline, it is good to take into account the following:
- Check which airport the airline arrives at. Some airlines reach airports farther away or even outside the city.
- Ensure you have paid for your baggage allowance and adhere to its restrictions on size, weight, and the number of bags allowed. Many airlines may charge a hefty fee if you go over their policies. Remember to pay only for the space and weight of luggage you require. This is how budget airlines usually keep prices lower than the rest of the regular airlines.
- Read the fine print. Some airlines may charge a check-in fee if you do not check-in in advance online and print your boarding pass or use the mobile boarding pass.
In summary, always read all the instructions and indications of your ticket and your boarding confirmation. It’s also good to keep in mind that a cheaper flight probably doesn’t include the best service in the world. So be flexible, adapt, do your research, and read your budget airline’s restrictions and regulations.