You’ve planned out a dream vacation to a exotic or adventurous spot you’ve always wanted to go to. You’ve scoured the best hotel deals and found one that has a fancy indoor and outdoor pool. You’ve discovered exciting excursions you can’t wait to try out with your family.
Now all that’s left to do is get the airfare, which you’ve put off doing for as long as possible. Purchasing airline tickets can sometimes be a frustrating process. The rates may change frequently and are so dependent on the day of the week and the time of the year. Your departing and arrival airport also factors into the price of transporting you to your desired location.
Thankfully, there are ways to make finding and purchasing flights for your trip easier and cheaper. Rather than dreading having to select your seat online, you can coast through this element of planning a trip with excitement and ease.
Whether you’re traveling solo for work or with the whole family for a summer vacation, there are great ways you can find cheap flights to get to where you want to go. And while it’s better to plan ahead far in advance of your trip, you can still find great deals on flights even last minute.
How to find cheap flights
Here, we share 17 tips you can utilize when searching for your next flight. Discover how these tips can help save you money on travel and contribute to a great trip.
Tip 1: View a Flight Map
When looking for the best deals, there are several online resources that can help you find what you’re looking for. The sites Google Flights and Skyscanner have map features that can allow you to see where the best deals on flights are.
An article from NerdWallet by Kelsey Sheehy notes how these services let you compare airfare from different airports. So, if you have a set destination, it may be worth looking into the costs of flights for nearby airports. If you fly into an airport for a cheaper price, you can always rent a car and drive the rest of the way to reach your desired destination.
Sheehy also notes how Google Flights also has a feature that will show you potential destinations you can travel to based on dates and what kind of location you want to visit. The service will provide you flight options that are cheap and can save you money in a big way.
Tip 2: Fly at Other Times
While mid-day flights can be more convenient, a red-eye flight or early morning flight tend to be less expensive. An article from NerdWallet notes how these flights usually have open seats and can have lower rates than flights at more optimal times. These flights can also help you have more of your day on your trip.
Tip 3: Buy On Time
While last-minute trips and flights don’t allow for much planning, other trips do allow you to prepare. An article from Scott’s Cheap Flights suggests to plan ahead when it comes to buying airline tickets. He notes that prices in the month or two before the departing date tend to increase within that time. You don’t want to cut your ticket purchases too close to the deadline.
However, Scott’s Cheap Flight also advises to not plan ahead too far in advance and risk losing out on potential sale opportunities. But if you’re planning on traveling in peak flight times, you’ll want to allow for an additional month in planning ahead as demand for flights is greater.
Thrillist even adds that 47 days tends to be the best amount of time prior to a departure for buying tickets at a great price. If you wait too long to purchase them, you may end up paying more than you had anticipated.
Tip 4: Use Those Rewards
Did you know that some credit cards will reward you with airline miles for your purchases? Redeeming the rewards you accumulate through purchasing with a credit card can be an easy way to subsidize the cost of your flight.
Different credit cards have different guidelines for using airline miles with your rewards. Check into how you can use your credit card to make your airline flight more affordable.
Tip 5: Search the Internet for deals
The Internet is a great source of resources to help you find great deals on flights, regardless of what airline you prefer. An article from Scott’s Cheap Flights mentions three popular tools as Google Flights, Priceline and Momondo. These search engines allow you to set filters and get specific in what kind of flight you’re looking for.
An article from Thrifty Nomads also lists several helpful search engine tools that can help you discover your next cheapest flight. Although these sites show inflated costs since they take a cut from the airline, some sites list the price higher than others. Knowing which sites show a more realistic flight price can help you find one that is appealing to you. Thrifty Nomads mentions sites like Skyscanner, AirFare Watchdog, Momondo, Kiwi.com, Cheapoair, AirWander and JetRadar to help you uncover deals that may not be found on other search engines.
Tip 6: Go Social
Digital marketing has gone social, and that includes airlines. Some airlines may post some last minute deals that you can discover on social platforms like Twitter. An article from NerdWallet shares the Twitter handles of several popular airlines where you can follow and find deals in those Tweets.
Tip 7: Plan Your Trip with Flexibility
If your trip allows for some flexibility in location and dates, you can find cheap flights by adjusting your dates and locations of your flight. An article from Scott’s Cheap Flights notes that if you take the approach of first finding what prices are available for flights, then looking at destinations that interest you and finally selecting dates that work with your schedule, you can find great deals on flights.
The article from Scott’s Cheap Flights notes of some of the cheapest times to fly. It says that the cheapest time of the year to fly is January through mid-May and then September through early December. However, if you’re planning a trip during peak times like summer or Christmas or New Year’s, those times of the year are considered to be the most expensive times to fly. When planning your next trip, keep these times of year in mind in order to get the best price on tickets.
If your schedule allows for some flexibility, Scott’s Cheap Flights says that Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday tend to be the cheapest days to fly. The most expensive days tend to be Friday and Sunday.
Tip 8: Check Out Airline Errors
Thrifty Nomads notes how sometimes, airlines make mistakes when listing their airfare prices. The reasons for this are many, whether it be technical glitches or currency conversion errors. In any case, these errors can help you get some serious savings in finding these mistakes. While they’re still rare, once you find a airfare sale or drastically lower price, it’s best to jump on the opportunity quickly.
Tip 9: Get Price Alerts
One of the best ways to keep track of airfare when you’re planning a trip is to get alerts of price drops on a flight you’re looking at. Resources like Google Flights and Kayak can let you know of when the price on a flight you want goes down so you can jump on the opportunity to save.
By signing up for these price alerts and paying attention to these valuable websites, you can be sure you’re in the know for all great deals on flights.
Tip 10: Pick and Choose Your Airlines
There’s no rule that says you need to stick with the same airline for your entire travel. An article from Skyscanner notes how you may have the option to mix and match your airline tickets to find the cheapest options at all airlines. You could even fly out of different airports using different airlines if your itinerary could line up.
Tip 11: Search in Secret
When you’re looking for airline flights and using your Internet searches to do your work, your browser may be tracking what you’re searching for and may alter your results. An article from Thrifty Nomads says that after searching for a flight price several times, the price of the flight may change for you. This is due to the cookies that are stored in your browser.
To fix this tracking problem, you can search for flights using the incognito mode on your browser in order to prevent tracking and get the lowest price. Start each of your flight searches in a new secret or incognito window so that your searches won’t be connected to your new search. Utilizing this secret search feature will ensure you can find the cheapest prices no matter how many times you look up a flight.
Tip 12: Check out Budget Airlines
If you’re not flying for the pampering and excessive amenities on your trip and would rather save some money, check out budget airlines. These airlines offer significantly cheaper airfare prices than others. By flying budget, you’ll have to compromise by experiencing things like no free snacks and drinks or less leg room. However, you’ll reap the savings in a big way in spending way less on your airline ticket than if you would have flown with a full-service airline.
When looking into budget airlines, an article from Thrifty Nomads advises to always read the fine print of the details of such tickets. Sometimes there are strict stipulations when it comes to the weight and number of bags you may have along. Otherwise, you may be subject to additional steep fees.
Tip 13: Buy More Than One Flight at a Time
If you’re traveling with a group or on a several stop trip, Thrifty Nomads says its best to buy them all together in order to get some great deals. They note that you’ll get a better value on your tickets when you purchase more at the same time. This is generally true if the flights are with the same airline or an airline with the the same alliance. When searching for tickets, keeping all your travel options in mind can help you find bundled deals that will save you even more.
Tip 14: Utilize the 24-Hour Cancellation Policy
An article from the Huffington Post suggests to be decisive about your flight choices by keeping in mind the 24-hour cancellation policy. Author Cliff Hsia suggests to book a ticket that you find a great deal on right away. With the fluctuation of prices, that great deal you just found may disappear quickly. If you change your mind about a ticket or find something better, you have 24 hours to cancel that flight and still get a refund.
Tip 15: Choose a Flight with a Stop-Over
If you’re willing to spend a little more time on your travel, consider flying to your destination in an indirect way. An article from Skyscanner notes that you can use their Skyscanner multi-city flight search tool to discover multiple cities in one search. These indirect routes tend to be cheaper options than straight direct flights.
Tip 16: Get Email Alerts
When you’re a loyal customer to an airline or travel booking website, those companies want to reward you. Often, these airlines and travel booking sites will send you email alerts and deals to encourage you to return and set up another trip. Signing up for these email alerts is free and can let you know of great deals that may come your way.
Tip 17: Get to Booking
Buying airline tickets for your next trip doesn’t have to be a costly chore. With these easy tips and tricks in booking cheap flights, you can save a great deal of money on a flight that can get you to where you want to be.
Learning to book airline tickets well may take practice. There may be new things and strategies you uncover as you’re planning your trip. Learning these secrets may take a few times to get the hang of it. But if you’re willing to put in a little bit of time in your researching of flights, you can be sure to find a ticket price you can be excited about.