Booking airfare can be an expensive part of your vacation. While we all love a great getaway, most of us love saving money even more. So why not do both by getting cheap flights?
Even if booking a flight is a necessary part of your travel plans, you can follow the five tips below to get ridiculously cheap flights and enjoy the vacation you deserve.
1.) Understand the Myths About Cheap Flights
Top secret tips for finding cheap flights have been around the internet for so long that they’re not so secret anymore. But what if we told you that many of them aren’t true anymore?
Airlines have been perfecting their game and adapting to new trends faster than we can imagine, making those tips outdated. Here are some of them:
Airline websites have the best deals. Except when it comes to flash sales and a few airlines, you have a better chance of finding cheap flights on booking sites. They scan the offers of thousands of airlines and give you many options.
Fares are cheaper if you buy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Forget about this myth. Flight tickets don’t work this way. Airfares change frequently depending on demand and availability. So, there is no “magic time” or day to book cheap flights. However, it may be possible that you can get a cheaper ticket if your trip is on a Tuesday as opposed to flying on the weekend, for example.
Lap children always fly for free. While it is usually correct for domestic flights, lap kids are required to pay 10 percent of the applicable adult fare on international trips.
Roundtrip tickets are better deals. That was the case several years ago, but it’s different today. You can get a much better deal by breaking your trip down and selecting the best deals separately. Keep reading to discover how you can do that.
You need to clear your browser history to get better deals. Your session remains anonymous until you book the ticket, so your browser’s cookies don’t influence your ticket price.
2.) Try to Book in Advance vs. Booking at the Last Minute
Now, this one is a dilemma. There is a big difference between booking your ticket for six months in advance and two days before your flight.
However, here is our rule of thumb: book ahead of time for all your planned trips, and do a thorough search if you’re traveling on a whim.
Book Ahead of Time if Your Trip is Planned
If you know your travel plans early, booking ahead of time can save you some money during peak seasons such as holidays, spring break, and summer vacation.
To get the best rates, start looking about three to six months in advance. As it gets closer to your travel dates, the cost of airfare will significantly increase and usually peak at the highest rates two to three weeks before the departure.
If your vacation has you traveling internationally, book your flight at least six months in advance to ensure you find one of the lowest rates. Monitor the price of flights after you purchase your ticket for lower rates. Any price drops are worth asking the airline for a refund for the price difference. This tip isn’t widely advertised, and not all airlines offer it, but some will honor the new rate.
Do Your Homework Extensively if You Have a Sudden Trip
On the flip side of the coin, you can also save a lot of money by booking your flight arrangements at the last minute.
Those who don’t have set travel plans or accommodation arrangements can save a significant amount of money by keeping an eye out for last minute deals to their desired destinations. No airline likes to fly a plane half full, so they will sometimes heavily discount remaining seats a few days before the scheduled departure to make sure they are functioning at full capacity.
If you need a break but are not sure where they want to go, pack your luggage for a variety of destinations and pick a location that is offering discounted flight rates for the days you have available.
Landing the best deal can take some time, though. Airplanes used to discount their empty seats more in the past until they discovered that those who fly at the last minute are generally businessmen. Those businessmen don’t usually check the prices of flights before traveling and don’t need discounts, so the airlines started increasing the rates of flights as the departure date comes closer.
To get a last-minute discount instead of an increase, do your homework before you book your ticket. Don’t forget to get travel coverage to protect your trip in case anything goes wrong.
3.) Be a Little Flexible
Flexibility is one of the best ways to get cheap flights. Here are some things to be flexible with to save money.
Dates, Times, Days of the Week, and Airports
Another easy way to find cheap flights is traveling on less popular days or times to save on the price per ticket.
When searching for a flight, there is often a place to mark that your dates are flexible. The website will show you trips that are close to your date for a discounted rate. You can do a little research in advance and contact airlines to find out which days are busier travel days for them at different times of the year.
Additionally, traveling a little farther to larger airports can also provide you with a significant amount of savings.
Airline You Travel With
Not all airlines are created equal. Luxury companies like Emirates or Singapore Airlines are on the pricey side. Local companies like JetBlue or TUIfly (mainly for Europe) are cheaper.
Use a flight aggregator website to find cheap flights from different airlines and compare them.
No one likes long layovers. However, longer layovers could mean cheaper flights.
In addition to that, they might be a blessing in disguise. If you are on a long-haul flight, a short layover period will help you recharge and get ready for your next flight. If you have a long layover period, you could use it to discover the city you’re in.
Pay attention to the visa requirements of the country your layover is in, however. You might need to get a visa before leaving on your trip if you’re planning on exiting the airport and spending some time in the local area.
If your plans are just to get away, find destinations that have specific off-seasons, such as the Virgin Islands.
You will not only find cheaper flight rates but also discounted accommodations. Also, make sure you check the calendar of events of the country or city you’re visiting. A festival, a big game, or a national celebration all make the prices of flights and accommodation soar. Try to book your ticket ahead of time to avoid the frenzy.
4.) Break Your Route and Know Your Options
Similar to being flexible, considering nontraditional options can help you get cheap flights.
Consider Not Flying Directly
Sometimes, breaking your journey into different destinations can save you big bucks (and allow you to visit new cities each time).
For example, if you are traveling to Finland from the US, you can either fly directly there or book a less expensive long-haul flight to a nearby country (UK, France, Germany, Norway, etc.) and book another continental flight with a low-cost carrier.
Another option is flying to another city then taking the bus or the train to reach your final destination. You will be surprised at all the costs you’ll cut this way. You might need a calculator, a pen, and a paper to do the math, but it’s worth it if you get a cheap flight!
Know the Budget Airlines and Where They Land
In case you chose to carry on with the plan above, you will need to know the budget carriers available to you and the airports they reach. Here is a list of some of the major low-cost airlines per region:
- USA: Southwest, Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air, Frontier.
- Canada: Flair Airlines, Jetlines, WOW Air, Swoop.
- Europe: Ryanair, EasyJet, TUIfly, Vueling, JetBlue, Aigle Azur.
- Asia: Tiger Air, Jeju Air, Air Asia, Jetstar, Spring Airlines, Hong Kong Express, Spice Jet.
- Africa: Kulula.com, Fastjet, FlyAfrica.com, Air Arabia, Mango, Flyafrica.com, Fly540.
- Latin America: Flybondi, Azul Brazilian Airlines, Gol Transportes Aéreos, JetSmart, EasyFly, Wingo, Interjet, VivaAerobus.
- Australia & New Zealand: Jetstar, Tiger Air.
Always check on their websites to see which airports they land at and plan accordingly. Also, keep in mind that some of these airlines may charge a lot more for checked baggage, so get good carry-on luggage or a travel backpack to avoid extra fees.
Compare Roundtrip Flight Fees and Separate Flight Fees
When searching for flights on your computer, see what it costs to book one way to your destination and then a separate booking for the return flight.
Sometimes local airlines that fly from specific destinations can amount to significant savings that may not be available on your destination flight or vice versa. This tip can not only be a great way to save money but can also be a way to have more control over your flight time.
It also allows you to create multiple day layovers in other destination cities you wish to see, giving you two locations for the price of one trip.
5.) Check Out Discount Airfare Websites
Many of these discounted airfare sites can help you find the best route to take to save on airfare. Some of the websites offer bidding tools, and some allow you to receive notifications on your cell phone when prices on the tickets you are looking for a drop.
There are even tools on discount airfare sites that allow you to select a destination and search by the cheapest month to fly to the area. While many of these prices could be found through traditional ticket purchase sites, it often requires a lot of legwork and these sites can do that same work almost instantly.
Instead of wasting your time comparing flights and finding the cheapest routes and airlines, you can price shop on a couple of these sites to save a lot of time and money. CheapAir has us given their top hacks on how to book cheap flights on their website.
Some of the tools available to you on the website are:
- FareTracker feature. Choose a destination you’re keeping an eye on, and they will send you an email every time that route’s price drops.
- Fixed and flexible dates options.
- Low fares and best deals alerts.
- Price Drop Payback. If fares drop after you purchase, they will credit you back the difference.
- Roundtrip, one-way, and multi-city options.
Whether you plan ahead or take advantage of the last minute deals that many airlines offer to fill their flights, you can save a significant amount of money on airfare by shopping around and having some flexibility with your travel times. Next time you need to book a flight, use these tips to see what a difference they can make.