31 October 2019
The Top Secrets to Finding Cheap Flights
Traveling these days efficiently doesn’t come without a cost, and flying is no exception. The problem is, with all the different airlines and services available to the average traveler, it can be challenging to find a good deal, one that’s bang for your buck. Sure, you could always book whatever is available for your convenience, but luckily it isn’t that difficult to find the best prices in the comfort of your own home. Read on to learn all the various ways you can save some of your hard-earned cash with these helpful tips.
If you’re a regular flier, you’ve probably had this happen to you. You’re planning on booking a flight, but are put off by the prices and become hesitant to book. You decide to check on it later after making your decision but are not-so-pleasantly greeted at a higher rate than previously listed. In a panic, you decide to book for that flight, worried that it would only go up the longer you wait.
If you’ve ever been a victim to this, don’t worry, you’re not alone, and better yet, there’s a way to prevent this from ever happening again. By going incognito and switching your web browser to private browsing mode, you’ll get rid of the pesky algorithms that hike those ticket prices. You see, airline websites contain cookies that track your search history. This means that they know which trips you’re planning to book, and more importantly, how many times you’ve searched for said trips. This prompts the site to jack the ticket prices up on trips you’ve searched multiple times, in an attempt to scare you into booking for a ticket before it becomes even more costly. By using the private browsing mode in your browser, however, you can disable the site’s cookies entirely, so that the airline has no way of knowing which flights you’re really deciding on.
And even if you haven’t experienced this when booking in your local airline, it never hurts to be on the safe side. Who knows, you could be saving a few bucks without even realizing it.
Booking at the Right Time
When looking for a flight on a budget, timing is everything. Both the time and day you book your flight and schedule it can be the difference-maker in saving you some of your greens, regardless of airline. And while the timings for booking flights isn’t an exact science, there are certain trends that are relevant enough for you to take note of.
The first thing to remember when booking on a budget is when to actually book a flight. Generally, it’s a good idea to book a flight in advance, with earlier bookings typically being cheaper in cost than those done closer to your desired date. A month ahead of your desired flight, for example, is a good start. The idea behind this is that many airline companies while selling their tickets at a base amount, end up increasing the prices as more and more people purchase tickets. It is also important to keep in mind that booking for flights during holidays or special occasions should be done even earlier than usual, as more people will be vying for those same tickets.
Flying at the Right Time
Once you’ve decided when to book your flight, it’s important to know when to actually make the trip. This is because airline companies charge more during busy days, and less during their relatively slow ones. These days could fall on a weekly, monthly, or even a yearly basis, meaning that it’s important to find out when these golden days come around. Thankfully, there are websites dedicated to this sort of thing. CheapAir.com has studies on the cheapest dates to fly, while Skyscanner.com helps you filter out flights for your destination based on the cheapest time period. It doesn’t hurt to check them out, and with the right knowledge, you’ll be flying for cheap in no time.
Conversely, it’s a good idea to avoid popular days to fly on whenever possible. Similar to how the slower days will cost you lesser than usual, days that receive more traffic have increased ticket prices and that becomes even more prevalent during the holidays, with everyone scrambling for a ticket.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to book for flights that are either really early in the morning, or late at night. If you’re willing to get a few fewer hours of sleep to save some cash, you can try booking for these times, as people are less likely to want to fly during these hours. So while knowing when people travel less often is a useful guide, it’s equally important to know which days you should be avoiding when deciding your flight schedule.
The Internet is Your Friend
The Internet has become the most convenient medium for many things in this day and age, and planning for flights is no exception. While we did mention a couple of websites earlier that can help with finding the cheapest time to fly, there are a lot of other websites that can help you find the best ticket prices for your trip.
In particular, flight search engines provide the user with the ability to look for the cheapest prices available for similar flights. Simply type in your to and from locations, and with a few clicks, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Pretty simple, right?
Well, not really. See, running sites like these cost money, which means that flights you search for on these sites will typically be inflated as a result. And while all these sites do showcase mark-ups at prices, the rate of inflation varies with each search engine. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to search for tickets (incognito, of course) through a few of these search engines to find the ones with the lower mark-up. This will also help you know which search engines work for you best, so you don’t have to look through multiple sites at a time.
There are dozens of sites out there for you to get started, but there are a few worth noting:
- Skyscanner – This website/app provides everything you need in a flight search engine; with filters, you can use to narrow down your preferences
- Google Flights – a good site for easy checking of flights, but isn’t the best when it comes to prices
- JetRadar – is different from most search engines as it also includes budget airlines in its results
- Kiwi.com – makes connecting flights easier and cheaper with its ability to connect flights across all supported airlines
Each of these sites offers something different from one another, so be sure to check them out to find the one that suits you.
These sites aren’t the only places you’ll be able to find yourself a good deal, though. Like most service companies, airlines offer the occasional promo that just might apply for the flight you’re looking for. It never hurts to look for them, and you can easily do so by heading to their website to find out. Alternatively, you can follow them on social media as well, as companies do post their promos on their pages too.
Flight search engines can really be useful in finding your ideal flights, but it does lack a few features. As mentioned earlier, most search engines don’t have budget airlines supported in their search results, which immediately takes away plenty of possible options. Aside from this, though, flight search engines do not include many small local airlines in their results either. Local airlines offer their own promos and discounts just like any other airline, and could even be offering lower base prices than their well-known counterparts. This means that you should check out any local airline that may offer the flights you’re looking for, and compare their prices to what you’ve found through the search engines to make more informed decisions.
Become a Frequent Flier and Earn Points
If you’re one of those people who fly on a regular basis, be it due to business trips or personal matters, it’s a good idea to invest a bit of money in applying for a frequent flier program. The mechanics on earning points and redeeming rewards differ from airline to airline, but typically you earn points based on the number of miles you’ve flown. You can then use those points to avail free flights, allowing you to take a trip every now and then without spending a dime.
Go For Budget Airlines
The tips mentioned so far can be helpful when booking for both full-service and budget airlines. But if you really want to save some cash, you’re way better off finding a budget airline as your go-to airline instead. Budget airlines live up to their name and offer prices that are generally lower than their full-service counterparts. Keep in mind, however, that they don’t do this for free. Budget airlines focus less on comfort, and as a result, typically provide no food/drink during the flight, and have less legroom reserved per passenger. If you’re willing to deal with this level of comfort, though, get ready to save up big-time. Keep in mind, though – budget airlines sometimes have specific instructions or policies you must adhere to when booking. These range from luggage dimensions and printing your own ticket among others, so always make sure to read up on them on their website or social media profile.
Fly at a Different Airport
This may sound surprising, but booking your flight at another airport can save you quite a bit of money. You see, prices for tickets vary based on the origin and destination of your flight. Even flights from airports only a hundred or so miles apart can vary greatly in prices. Sometimes, the price difference is large enough that a cheaper alternative would be to travel to another airport on land and fly there instead. If you think that the extra hours of travel time is worth the discount, then this tip is for you.
Take Advantage of Sale or Discount Errors
Sometimes, when airlines list discounted prices or sales for their flights, bugs and errors can occur, leading to tickets having way lower prices than expected. The causes of these errors vary, from human error to technical problems with the website. And while this may seem like a phenomenon too rare to spot, let alone take advantage of, there are tools available on the Internet that help you find these errors in a jiffy. Secret Flying, The Flight Deal, and AirFare Watchdog is among such sites that list any existing so-called “error fares” and help you take advantage of them.
Book Connecting Flights Yourself
Connecting flights can be a cheap alternative to flying straight to your destination. But most connecting flights offered online are either done on the same airline, or through an affiliate partner. This prevents you from being able to connect flights with other airlines, which could possibly save you some cash. So, if you want to get the cheapest possible connecting flight, taking matters into your own hands can help. By booking individual flights yourself you can fly without restricting yourself to a single airline.
However, this does come with risks. Connecting flights planned out by the airline are guaranteed. This means that in the event of a delay or problem in between flights, they can help you reschedule without much hassle. This doesn’t happen when you book flights yourself, though, as they aren’t obligated to do so. Luckily, websites such as Kiwi.com can guarantee you rescheduling and assistance in the event of a problem, should you book connecting flights on different airlines through their service.
So whether you’re planning for that special vacation with loved ones or getting ready for a business trip, it never hurts to cut back on expenses and save yourself some coin. By following the tips mentioned in this article, you’re sure to find deals you would have never expected to discover before.