Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for a flight. We all have our standards though. Some refuse to fly an airline without meal service, others will not fly in less than business class. Regardless of your personal standards, we can help. Finding a booking cheap flight is a tricky business, but we have some tricks that may help you save some serious money on your vacation, which means more can be dedicated to the fun of being there!
Follow closely, because this is how to fly cheaply!
Consider flight cost before choosing the destination
Our favorite sites for scoring a great deal are Google Flights and Momondo. Both of these give you the option to look at flights to various destinations with corresponding cost prices before making your final decision on your destination. Play around with the map to check for awesome deals.
What are the cheapest flights you see? Do any of those destinations look like they may suit your desires? Often times you’re trying to decide between a few locations, why not let the price of flights assist in that decision? Or you might find a great deal to a location you’ve never heard of before but after doing a bit more research, realize is the perfect spot for you!
But be careful with this map searching. It can become addicting and before you know it, it’s 8 p.m. and you realize you forgot all about dinner!
Check nearby cities
Use The Man in Seat Sixty-One to see if the new destination can be connected with a cheap train journey to save money and perhaps see a few sights along the way. Using this strategy, Tokyo is often cheaper if you fly into Osaka and then take the very regular and reliable train linking the two cities. This not only saves money, but it offers the ability to take your time and see another city as well as experience the train journey.
This goes for your home airport as well. Unless you live in the core of a major city, your home airport may not be the cheapest flight. Consider other nearby airports to fly from, often an extra hour in a car or on a train can save you tons of money. While on this note, sometimes a flight into an international hub such as Los Angeles (LAX) with a hotel room for the night and a flight out to your destination the next morning can even be a great choice.
Consider alternate routes to your destination
Sometimes A to B actually doesn’t make sense. There is always more than one way to get to a destination. Some cities have more than one airport. For example, Tokyo’s main airport is Narita (NRT) however if you look for flights in the whole of Tokyo you may find cheaper flights into Haneda (HND), a smaller but often more convenient airport.
In Google flights, search for the city name, rather than the airport and it’ll search for all of the airport. So instead of NRT or HND, search for Tokyo (TYO).
Fly outside of peak seasons
If at all possible, avoid flying when everyone else is flying. Less people means better prices both on flights, and generally on other costs at your destination as well. Everyone flies on school holidays. Summer, spring break and winter holidays are your times to avoid in the US. But also consider your destination. Are there major holidays happening in the area you are flying to that you should avoid? If you are trying to fly to Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, the prices will be higher. Beijing during the Chinese New Year? Same situation. Unless your dream is to attend one of these massive holidays, they are best avoided in the name of savings.
But we get it, the kids are in school or you can’t get away from work and you’re stuck flying when everyone else is. This is a great time to use that map search we mentioned earlier to see where in the world falls into your budget. You never know what you might find!
Want to visit multiple places?
Your time off was approved or the kids have a holiday or you just like the idea of seeing more than one place in one trip. We’re with ya! The best way to see several cities on one trip varies, so we have a few strategies to help.
“Open Jaw” is the term for booking a round-trip flight that arrives in one city and departs from another. Imagine you’re traveling through Europe. You can fly into Amsterdam. Then proceed to travel by train from city to city on your adventure. Once finished, you fly out from Munich to return home instead of needing to spend the time, energy, and money on returning to Amsterdam just to catch a flight. This is a great option for people who may travel a long distance from their initial entry point.
If you’ve come all this way, sometimes it’s worth it to see more than one place. And this can sometimes be cheaper than a roundtrip flight from A to B, and then back from B to A. Always play around with flights and potential itineraries!
Long layovers are always another option. Often longer flights (like over oceans) include a layovers of a couple hours or more, sometimes much more. While initially this seems like a drag, choosing a flight with a long layover can provide the opportunity to see a new city, perhaps even one you had never considered on seeing prior to this forced layover. Many airports offer special tours or events at a free or reduced price available exclusively to layover passengers, like Seoul’s Transit Tour. This free tour of the city is offered only to those passing through. It is always worth exploring these options. If you see a city on the layover list, you may even want to look into purposely booking a crazy layover, like 22 hours to give yourself time to explore.
The third option is to simply book a round-trip ticket to a destination, and then one, or a number of other tickets once in your destination which eventually bring you back to the first destination in time for your flight home. For example, you fly from home to London then take a separate cheap flight from London to Paris, then maybe a train to Barcelona, and finally a flight from Barcelona to London in time to catch your return flight home. Remember in this plan, leave plenty of time for transfers or delays. You do not want to miss that flight home. Or maybe you do?
Weigh out the advantages of these three strategies and apply them to your trip to see what will work best for you.
When to book
So now you have a plan, but when is the right time to book the flight? This is a tricky subject, and you often have to go with your gut a bit on this but we have a few tools in our arsenal to assist you in making an educated decision. Pro tip: the rumor that you should book on Tuesdays for the cheapest flight is a myth. That used to be the case when airlines changed prices once a week. That definitely doesn’t happen anymore!
Domestic travel tends to not pay off for planning too far in advance. The best window is one to three months before departure. International travel is a much larger window with the best deals being between two and eight months from when you hope to fly.
These both tend to be affected by the tourist seasons, with high season deals being offered to early birds and drying up a month earlier and the low season seeing more deals approach as the flight time gets closer.
Once you know these general rules, the best tool for making educated decisions on flight prices is Google’s flight tracker. Simply add your desired itineraries and Google will track the prices and email you whenever either the price drops below what you want to pay, or a particularly cheap flight comes available. Up to you.
Book NOW (and then think about it for 24 hours)
When you do find that amazing deal that you have been waiting for, you often don’t have time to think it over. Flight prices change constantly, not merely daily or weekly. As long as one leg of your flight touches the United States, you have a consumer protection law that allows you 24 hours to cancel your flight booking for any reason. So, if for some reason you realize you booked the flight prematurely after all, you have a window to back out. So, go with your instincts, do your research, and plan it all out. Then when you see that dream price don’t hesitate, or you may never see it again. If you get that email that your flight is in the price range you were hoping it, book it! Right now!
Need some help with booking flights? Or planning an entire vacation?
We’re cheap flight experts, and would love to help you get the best price for the perfect vacation. We’re here to plan all the details for you, so you can keep going about your day without worrying if the hotel you booked is next to a construction site. Send us a message and we’ll get planning!