Airline tickets are one of the most expensive items on your list of travel expenses. Therefore, finding the cheapest tickets means you’ll have more money to spend on the trip experience itself.
Flights are expensive these days and a cursory look at airline ticket prices might be enough to put you off going anywhere. But don’t despair. Every day, thousands of cheap airline tickets are put on sale, and they’re there if you only know where to look. Read on for a few tips on finding cheap flights.
1. Be flexible
Ticket prices vary according to the time of year and are most expensive in certain periods due to holidays. Traveling over New Year, Thanksgiving, Christmas or the Fourth of July is expensive, and August is expensive in Europe when everyone’s on holiday. Finding a cheap airline ticket will be that much easier if you’re flexible about when you fly.
If you fly when flights are packed and everyone’s on their way somewhere, you’re going to be paying high fares. But if you can be flexible with your dates, you can visit your dream destination at a time when thousands of other people aren’t doing exactly the same thing — and your fare will be cheaper.
Mid-week travel is cheaper than weekend travel, and the period after a big holiday usually means cheap flights can be had. Also, most people don’t like to fly very early in the morning or late at night, so these fares are lower.
You should also be prepared to be flexible about your destinations. There are countless fabulous destinations, but not all of them are as popular as, say, Paris or the Maldives.
The best way to find out what’s possible in the travel department is to enter your home airport into Google Flights or Kayak, and you’ll see just how many flights are offered from your hometown to the rest of the world.
By also being flexible with your route, you will save money. Your trip might take a little longer and be less direct, but the savings are often really worth it. To take advantage of this tip, first of all, find out how much it costs to fly directly to your destination.
Then, type the continent of that destination into Google Flights. There, you will see prices at nearby airports. If the difference is substantial, check to see how much it will cost you to get from the second airport to your destination. It can often be worth taking the indirect route.
2. Look for tickets for a single person
Instead of searching for or buying multiple tickets together, search for tickets as a single person. Do this as many times as there are people you are booking for, and then during checkout, you can choose your seats so that you’re grouped together. The reason for this is that airlines charge the highest ticket price for a group of tickets, even if some seats are cheaper.
3. Use multiple search engines
To make sure you get the best deal on airline tickets, it’s important to search several flight search engines. There can be wide variations in price on the same flight over more than one search engine, so do your research. Budget airlines such as Ryanair and AirAsia aren’t represented on big sites like Orbitz, Expedia or Kayak.
If you use international sites like Momondo or Skyscanner, you’ll be able to see little-known foreign airlines that don’t appear on American sites. Google Flights is great for searching multiple cities. We recommend beginning your searches on Momondo.
That’s because it looks at both budget and major airlines as well as English and non-English websites. The site is very comprehensive, and it vets the sites to which it is linked. It also usually comes up with the cheapest flight.
4. Focus on budget airlines
Although there are few budget airlines operating in the United States, there are plenty in Europe and Asia — and prices are low. Airlines in the Middle East and India offer cheap flights around both Asia and Africa. You can even find free airline tickets, provided you pay taxes.
You are no longer forced to fly on major carriers. Budget airlines can get you around the world. They obviously mean no ‘frills,’ but if you’re really set on saving money, they’re the best way to go.
Note: Make sure that when you add their fees to your ticket price, you aren’t actually paying more than for a major airline. Fees are how budget airlines make their money, so you need to be savvy. For example, budget airlines are known to charge you for using a credit card, printing out your boarding pass, checking in your luggage and various other fees.