When it comes to travel expenses, flights, alongside accommodation, often take up a big chunk of funds. In my years of traveling, I have spent countless hours on various websites trying to not only find the best ways to spend frugally, but also to find the best value flights as quickly as possible.
Here are my best tips on how to find and book the absolute cheapest flights to anywhere!
How To Book The Absolute Cheapest Flights To Anywhere
Use an Incognito Window
Have you ever noticed that flight prices tend to rise after you’ve viewed them a few times in the same browser? Trust that your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you here, as airlines do tend to raise the prices of flights once they know you’re interested. They do this by keeping track of the cookies in your browser and adjusting prices in the hopes of scaring you into booking a flight before you see the prices go higher.
To get around this tracking and make sure you’re always viewing the fairest and cheapest price, make a habit of searching for flights in an incognito window.
If you’re using Firefox or Internet Explorer, go incognito by hitting Control (or Command on Mac) + Shift + P, or if you’re using either Safari or Google Chrome, go incognito by hitting Control + Shift, + N. Doing this will open up a new browser window that’ll keep you browsing untracked and on the sly.
Use the Best Flight Search Engines
As part of their business plans, search engines take a cut of the flight cost and show you an inflated price to cover that cost. While all search engines do this, the trick is to find the ones that offer you the lowest inflation rate.
In my experience, Skyscanner (I recommend downloading the app to check fares on the go!) and CheapOAir both consistently bring up the lowest flight prices. I will also check Google Flights to see if any airlines are offering sales by booking direct.
Search for the Cheapest Days to Travel
It’s not news that flight prices can vary wildly based on the day of the week, but unfortunately there is no steadfast rule to which days of the week are less expensive than others. So, if you’re at all flexible with your travel dates, it can pay off big time to get a snapshot of prices a month at a time and see what days are cheapest.
To do this, hop on the Skyscanner app, input your departure and destination cities, and then when it comes to the “Depart” and “Return” dates, click on “chart” to easily view the prices for each day over the period of time you’re looking to travel. This makes finding the cheapest flight SO much easier!
You can also do this on the Skyscanner desktop site by clicking on “whole month” and “cheapest month.”
Read more: 20 Best Travel Hacks That Will Save You Money
Weigh Your Connection Options
While booking your flights in one fell swoop is easy and will keep you from missing any connections, sometimes it can pay off in big ways to book your connecting flights separately.
In addition to lower fares, this can be an awesome practice especially if you want to use your layover as an opportunity to check out an additional city. However, be wary of booking your flights too close together, as going this method won’t protect you from missed flights due to delays, especially if you book both legs on different airlines.
Take Advantage of Airline Errors
Due to technical glitches and human error, airlines have been known to post erroneous fares, and sometimes these errors can lead to incredibly discounted flights. There are a few resources out there to help you find these error fares, but generally you’ll be able to find them via Skyscanner by using the “Whole Month” method and then picking out any fares that look comparatively low.
Keep on Top of Flight Sales
In addition to taking advantage of errors, it’s always helpful to stay on top of flight sales. To do this, I recommend signing up for the mailing lists of different airlines and checking them periodically to see if any of their sales apply to you.
Search Budget Airlines
When you book a flight with a major airline, amenities such as a free snack/meal, extra leg room, two carry-on items, and the like are covered in the expense. However, if you’re willing to sacrifice comfort in the name of flying cheaper, a budget airline is the way to go.
What budget airlines do is take away the amenities and offer the flight to you at a much lower cost than their major counterparts. From there, you can pay specifically for extra amenities should they be offered or benefit you.
However, keep in mind that in order to keep costs low, budget airlines will often penalize you for situations such as overweight/size baggage more than their major counterparts would. Also, always be sure to check what airports the airlines fly in and out of, as oftentimes budget airlines keep away from large airports as to avoid high landing costs.
Read more: How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight
Determine the Cheapest Place to Fly
If you’re at all flexible on where you’re heading, consider either flying to the cheapest destination on the map, or flying into the cheapest airport close to your chosen destination. Oftentimes you’ll be able to find a nearby airport to fly into and then hop on a bus or train to your destination.
To determine this, head back on over to Skyscanner, enter your departure city, and then under the “To” header, click on “Everywhere”. This will bring up a selection of cities and the cheapest places you can fly to.
Use Flight Points
Also known in some circles as “travel hacking”, using flyer points to purchase your flights can save you a lot of money.
Flyer points or “miles” are usually offered as part of a loyalty program offered by credit card companies and airlines that allow you to accumulate points based on how much you spend on your card or how often you fly. Then, you can use these points to purchase flights.
Book in Advance
Flight prices typically work on a supply and demand system, meaning that as flight tickets begin to sell, the flight prices will rise accordingly. In essence, this means that tickets will rarely ever go down as the departure date approaches. If you know your exact dates, book as far in advance as you can as this could end up saving you major bank.
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