Traveling would be so much easier and cheaper if we didn’t have to worry about airfares. This is most of the time the largest expense of a trip. However, you can find hundreds of great deals online every day and even airline errors that can lead to ridiculously cheap flights. Throughout the years, I learned a few flight booking tips and tricks that can save you not only a lot of money, but also time and frustration. If you’re wondering how to find cheap flights, look no further!
Flight booking tips: Ignore the myths
There are a lot of myths regarding cheap flights and a lot of websites on the internet that recycle the same content and this can oftentimes be misleading. The truth is, there’s no secret formula to getting cheap flights and it’s all about research. Airlines today use advanced systems and algorithms to set the airfare that depends on multiple different factors. Hence, no one can predict the airfare based on only historic information and everyone that claims to do that is probably just taking an educated shot in the dark. Flights aren’t cheapest on Tuesdays. Wee-hour flights aren’t always cheaper. Some of these things might have worked in the past but that’s not the case anymore. With that being said, let’s start with the basics.
Compare incognito, normal browsing, and VPN
I know this might sound contradictory with my first tip, as many people say incognito flight ticket booking being cheaper is a myth but the truth is there isn’t any evidence that supports this theory. That’s why my suggestion would be to try incognito browsing and compare it. It’s a fact that most websites on the internet today store your data in cookies and prices might change if you search the same route multiple times. That’s why you should try browsing in incognito (or from another device) and compare.
You might also want to try using a VPN to change your browsing location. Prices are oftentimes displayed differently in different regions and this approach can SOMETIMES help you save a few bucks on your flight. But don’t blindly stick to incognito and VPN. Research thoroughly and always compare. The next step is to…
Figure out what’s the cheapest day to fly out
As I mentioned in the beginning, there are a lot of myths regarding flying on Tuesdays and flying for the weekends. However, statistically, flying on Tuesdays isn’t always the cheapest and flying on weekends isn’t always the most expensive. If you ask me, the best strategy is to get a visual view of the whole month on Google Flights or some other search engine. This will help you identify the cheapest day to fly out. The next thing you’ll need to figure out is…
Find the cheapest place to fly to
Even if you know the exact location you’re flying to, you can oftentimes save a lot by flying to a nearby city and then making your way to your wanted destination. There are a lot of tools that can help you in identifying the cheapest nearby airport but you can also do this manually by checking the prices for flying to a nearby airport. Being flexible regarding your flight destination can almost always help you save more. Once you figure out the destination and the date, the next step is to…
Set price alerts
This is one of the main advantages of starting to look for your flight early. You have plenty of time and hence, you don’t need to book your ticket right away. Instead, you can set price alerts that will notify you when a ticket price decreases or increases. As you probably know, ticket prices vary on a daily basis and sometimes, even a small drop can potentially save you a fortune. With that being said, you might be wondering…
What’s the right time to book your flight?
We all know that airfare keeps rising the closer you get to your departure and that booking in advance can get you a lower price. But you don’t need to book way in advance. There’s a sweet spot date at which airlines start increasing their fare based on demand and supply at that particular moment. This usually happens 6-8 weeks before the departure or up to three months if you’re traveling somewhere in the peak season. Have this in mind when you’re booking your flight. Another alternative you should know about is…
Searching for airline error and sale fares
Even though airlines have sophisticated pricing determination systems, they still can make mistakes. This happens because of many different reasons, such as currency conversion errors, technical glitches, and of course, human error. There are a lot of companies out there that make a living from finding airline errors and notifying their subscribers for it. You can subscribe to some of these services or learn more about it and do this by yourself.
Book your own connecting flights
If you come across a cheap flight that involves a transfer, have in mind that you can almost always book the same route for cheaper. For example, if you see a Delta Airlines flight from L.A. to Rome that transits through Paris and continues to Rome with an Air France flight, you can probably book it for less if you buy a ticket from Delta Airlines for the same L.A. to Paris flight and another ticket from Air France for the Paris-Rome flight. However, keep in mind that if you take this approach, avoid tight layovers. If you miss the flight, there’s no way to get reimbursed for it.
Since I mentioned Air France, I just joined their Discover the World at a low price program where they offer flights around the world which are even lower than some budget airlines! If you’re looking for a cheap flight, make sure to check it out.
What about hidden city ticketing?
If you did your fair share of traveling you probably heard about hidden city ticketing. Let’s say you want to visit London and you come across a flight from New York to Paris that transits through London that’s cheaper than any flight from NYC to London. If you book the flight to Paris, you can save a significant amount but there are a couple of things you should be careful about. If you choose this approach, you should travel only with hand luggage because your luggage will probably continue to the final destination.
Get a free long layover
More travelers nowadays apply the multi-leg flight strategy that includes a long layover that lasts for a few days or sometimes even weeks. For example, let’s imagine you’re flying from London to New York but you have 2 weeks of “layover” in Cuba. During these two weeks, you can have a vacation in Cuba and afterward, fly to New York. This way allows travelers to have two separate vacations for the price of taking one flight! If you want to try and see how this approach works, check out AirWander and see how other travelers save thousands of dollars on their flights!
A 23-hour check-back strategy
Every time after I book my flight, I check the price 23 hours later (because most airlines allow full refunds up to 24 hours after booking). I clear my cookies, start browsing, compare the prices and check if it dropped. If this happened, I’ll either cancel my flight and book again or just update my booking. I have actually saved a lot using this approach throughout the years and this is one of the best flight booking tips I can give you. Another strategy I often use is…