If you’re like me, the price of airfare is usually one of the biggest deciding factors in whether or not you book a trip. After all, if the flight is too expensive, you can bet I’m probably not going anywhere. But what if I told you that there were secrets for finding cheap flights almost every single time?
Every day airlines post hundreds of amazing deals, from mistake fares to seasonal sales. And sometimes it just comes down to knowing which websites to look at and which routes to take. Cheap plane tickets are out there. You just have to know where to look.
Today I’ve outlined all of my secrets to finding the cheapest flights possible, so the price of my flight rarely has to dictate my decision to travel. And if you follow these tips, flights will never have to be a deciding factor for you, either!
Here is my guide on how to be a master flight prices in 2019 and find a cheap flight to anywhere in the world.
Stop believing the myths
How many times have you heard that its cheapest to fly on Tuesdays? Well, it’s not. At least not anymore. A study done by Expedia in 2018 actually found that the cheapest days to travel depend on the airport and whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally. And if you aretraveling internationally, Thursday and Friday might be best.
Other flight myths that are actually costing you more money include, but are not limited to:
- Some destinations are always expensive
- The earlier you book, the better
- If you’re traveling with someone else, you should always book your tickets in the same transaction
- Layovers are annoying and should be avoided
Want the truth? Keep reading!
Choose off-season travel
The most popular times to travel depend on the destination – think Hawaii in the winter, Iceland in the summer, “dry seasons”, and the weeks around major holidays and school vacations. And if you want to travel with everyone else, then you can expect to pay for it.
But if you want to save heaps of cash, then traveling in the off-season (also known as the least popular time to visit) is the best time to find the cheapest flights. The low-season varies by location so you’ll have to do your research. But if you choose off-season travel, then you can expect other perks besides cheap flights, including: better car deals, cheaper accommodation, and fewer crowds. And who doesn’t love all that?
TIP: If you’re worried about weather, consider traveling in the first few weeks immediately following the end of your destination’s peak season. That way you’ll still be traveling during the “off-season”, but still catch the tail end of the best weather.
How do you know when it’s the low-season?
- You can ask google
- Search flights for different months. You’ll know you’ve hit the low-season when flights suddenly get cheaper
Be flexible in your dates and times
Airlines use different algorithms to adjust airfare prices depending on the time of year, weather, major events, holidays, time of day, passenger demand, etc. So the more flexibility you have in your travel dates, the better. Even a one-day difference could mean saving hundreds of dollars on a ticket.
You’ll save even more money if you also have flexibility in your travel times since early morning or overnight flights are generally cheaper than flights in the middle of the day.
My favorite way for comparing flight days is through Skyscanner. All you have to do is plug in your airports and select “Cheapest month”. Then the cheapest days to fly will be listed in green.
You can also use Google Flights in a similar way. Just input your airports, and click on departure date. The cheapest days will be shown on the calendar in green. You’ll then be able to navigate the calendar to find the cheapest combination of days to fly.
Be flexible in your destination
Another easy way to save money is to not have your heart set on one destination. Because contrary to popular belief, travel can be affordable all year round since there’s always a low season or flight deal to somewhere.
The more flexible you are in your destination, the more money you can save. Besides, how fun is it to book a spontaneous trip to somewhere you never thought you’d go?!
My favorite way to browse for flights is by using Skyscanner’s Search Everywhere feature.
You can also use the Explore Destinations feature of Google Flights.
I challenge you this year to remain open to following the best flight deals instead of the vision of that one place you’ve had your heart set on. You never know what adventure you’ll find yourself on if you keep your options open!
Sign up for a cheap flight service
Every once in awhile an airline will run a sale or make a mistake in airfare pricing. You can catch these deals by spending every minute of your free time stalking flight prices until you find one. Or you can subscribe to a cheap flight service and get notifications for sales and mistake fares sent directly to your inbox.
But be prepared to be spontaneous, because the catch is that many of these deals won’t last long (often only 24 hours to a few days) depending on the reason behind the price drop.
The best services for flight drop notifications:
Each services offers a free and premium subscription depending on how serious you are about booking deals. Obviously premium subscriptions get the best deals, though. For $40 a year, Scotts Cheap Flights will drop insane deals into your inbox almost daily – like the $500 round trip flights from LAX to Australia earlier this year.
Be warned though: signing up for one of these will give you a very serious case of wanderlust (I’m speaking from experience…). Be prepared to have your inbox flooded with AMAZING flight deals to locations that – up until that moment – were never even on your radar.
Fly budget airlines
Choosing to fly with a budget airline is, arguably, one of the easiest ways to save money on your flight. Sure, you get fewer perks than you would get flying with a “major” airline, but you can get to where you’re going for (sometimes) hundreds cheaper.
Today, budget airlines serve most overseas and domestic routes, making it possible to fly all over the world for cheap. For example, WOWAir offers flights from the United States to Western Europe for as little as $99, with a multi-day stopover in Iceland for no extra charge. Frontier and Spirit Airlines are the cheapest airlines to fly in the US and AirAsia offers the flight deals all around Asia and Australia.
But of course budget airlines still need to make money somehow, so just watch out for hidden fees. Budget airlines typically charge fees for checked bags, carry-on bags, using a credit card, etc. They’ll also sometimes give you a smaller weight limit for baggage. So before you book budget, make sure to add up the cost of your ticket plus the cost of baggage and other hidden fees to ensure that you’re actually getting a bargain.
Here’s a select list of budget airlines worldwide:
If you’re spending money anyway, you might as well be earning free flights, right? Well, if you’re financially responsible, a travel credit card will be your best friend. With a travel card, you can expect to earn points/miles toward free flights, free upgrades, access to airport lounges, and exclusive discounts on hotels and rental cars.
Easy ways to earn points on a travel credit card are by picking a card with a large sign up bonus, keeping eye out out for special offers, and finding out what kinds of purchases will earn you the most points per dollar.
We use our travel cards to pay for groceries, gas, bills, rent, and student loans, since we have to pay them anyway. This results in accumulating hundreds of dollars worth of travel points every month – without traveling or flying at all! Then when the time comes, we usually have enough money to cover most, if not all, of our flights. With the right travel card and responsible finances, you can travel the world for very little – or even for free.
The cards that work best for us are:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards – for domestic travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – for everything else
To find out which card is best for you, visit The Points Guy’s guide to the best travel cards of 2019.
Use a search engine
Instead of booking directly through an airline website, use a flight search engine to compare flight deals. The search engine will compare all available airlines and routes to show you the best deals for your airports and destinations.
But you’ll need to compare multiple websites to ensure you’re getting THE best deal. Keep in mind that not every search engine will show you every single airline because not every airline wants to pay the fees associated with every search engine. And if you’re looking to fly budget, you won’t find many budget airlines listed on search engines like Orbitz, Kayak or Expedia. Instead, use international sites that will show you a bigger selection of budget options.
My favorite sites for finding the best deals:
Don’t be afraid of layovers
Sure, direct flights are generally the most convenient in terms of time, but definitely not in terms of money. Very rarely will you find a direct flight that costs less than one with a stop or two. So if you want to save money, don’t be afraid of layovers!
And sometimes you can use layovers to get even more out of your vacation. If your layover is long enough you’ll be able to leave the airport and squeeze an entirely new location to your itinerary. Take WOWAir, for instance. Not only is it a budget airline, but you can also manipulate your itinerary to get a stopover in Iceland on your way from the US to Europe, free of charge.
Not sure what you’d do with your time? A quick google or Pinterest search will bring up loads of layover itineraries for every airport city.
How many times have you been told that its better to book flights as early as possible? Well, that’s not entirely true. While it is true that airline prices rise as you get close to your departure date, you also don’t want to book your flight too early.
The optimal time to buy your ticket is somewhere between 6-8 weeks prior to your intended departure date. That’s about when airlines begin to adjust their prices according to demand, so fares will either begin to increase or decrease depending on your travel dates.
The Skyscanner mobile app makes it super easy to opt in for “price alerts” on your selected route. Once you opt in, you’ll get email notifications sent to your inbox every time there’s a change in the flight price.
And certain search engines, such as Google Flights, Kayak, and Momondo, are even capable of telling you if should buy your ticket now or wait for prices to drop. You can also create price alerts to be notified of price changes. So it pays (literally) to be smart about when exactly you book your ticket.
Book group flights separately
Say you need to book a few flights at the same time. Did you know its sometimes cheaper to book those tickets separately than it is to book them in one transaction? I’ll admit this is something I learned the hard way on our last trip to Iceland.
It’s sometimes cheaper to book tickets separately because otherwise you’ll be paying for “x” number of seats next to each other. And if one seat is more expensive than the rest in the group, then all of your tickets will be charged as the price of that most expensive ticket. For example, if you were buying 3 tickets, the airline will sometimes automatically select 3 seats next to each other. If two of those ticketed seats cost $200, but the third was $300, you’d be charged $300 for each ticket in the group.
So if you have multiple tickets to buy, double check that the price of each of those tickets is the same as if you were to book them individually!
Mix and match airlines
Booking websites often use the same airline (or major airlines and their partners) to book your round trip tickets, but don’t think you have to fly the same airline for every leg of your trip.
Check out the price for one-way tickets to see if they pop up with cheaper airlines. Or try searching legs of a long-haul flight separately. By mixing and matching airlines for different legs of your trip, you can save tons of money by always flying the cheapest airlines, making your entire flight more budget-friendly.
Just be sure flight times match up and always leave yourself enough time (several hours minimum) between flights if you’re booking with layovers and have to switch airlines.
The best resources for mixing and matching are:
To sum it all up
The secrets to finding cheap flights are being strategic, patient, and flexible in where and when you go. The tips above are the best for finding the most budget-friendly flights quickly and easily, so you can stress less and travel more!
What’s your favorite way to find cheap flights? Let me know in the comments!
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