Last Updated | 2nd March 2023
For most trips, one of the most expensive parts is the airfare to get you there and back. Flight tickets can take a considerable chunk out of your budget or even be so high that they prevent you from booking the trip altogether. Thankfully over the years an increase in competition, the rise of budget airlines and the use of handy flight searching websites have made finding great deals easier than ever before. Outlined below is a list of all you need to know, in your search for the best flight deals. Allowing you to save money on the airfare and book that trip you’ve been dreaming of for years.
Ignore the Myths
Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic trick or hidden system to finding cheap flights. There are many online myths that claim to know the secret, but often they shall lead you astray. classic examples include; buying your ticket on a Tuesday, searching in incognito mode, and booking at an exact time period before you travel. Airlines use advanced computer analytics and pricing systems to determine airfares. Prices are based on a host of variables such as time of year, weather, major events, holidays, passenger demand and fuel prices. The system is way more complex than these “silver bullet” tricks that don’t work. Leave these outdated myths behind and employ the sensible approaches below instead.
Be Flexible with Your Dates, Times & Even Destination
Being flexible with your travel dates is one of the most effective ways to find the best flight deals and save money. Obviously, this isn’t always possible. But if you’re not bound by a specific date or time, you can take advantage of lower fares on different days and different months. In general, if you’re wanting to fly when lots of others are also wanting to fly (school holidays, public holidays etc) you’re going to pay more money I’m afraid. Flying outside of these peak times will be your best bet for finding the best prices. Additionally, once you’ve found a cheaper time period to fly, search around a few different dates as well. It’s generally cheaper to fly in the middle of the week than on weekends. As again there is less demand in the middle of the week. People taking long weekend breaks and business travellers will jet off Fridays and Mondays for example. Meaning these days are likely, although not always going to be more pricey.
Equally the time at which you fly also has a big impact on the price you pay. Flights that are at nice convenient times, will be more expensive due to that convenience. Flights that are very early or late will be cheaper as a result. I’m afraid sometimes you’ll have to bite the bullet and catch that red-eye flight if you want to save some money.
Finally, if you can’t be flexible with when you fly, or the initial destination you had in mind was proving futile. Be flexible on where you fly. And if you do both you’ll really put yourself in a great spot for the best deals. Most flight search engines have “Everywhere” as a destination. Which will list the cheapest flights from different destinations (more on this below). You might even surprise yourself and come across a county you’d never considered before.
Ultimately you need to be flexible and do some research around different dates, times and even destinations to discover the best deals. Thankfully there are some really useful websites to help you do so.
Use Flight Search Engines
Flight search engines are a great tool for finding the best flight deals and saving money. They allow you to search for flights from different airlines, compare prices, and choose the most affordable option. Some of the most popular flight search engines are Skyscanner, Google Flights and Kayak. These platforms also have features that help you set alerts for price drops and track prices over time. These platforms compare flight prices from hundreds of different sites and carriers, combining this with their handy calendar tools, allowing you to quickly scan large sections of dates to see where the cheapest flights are. In the below example, if you were to book your return flight on the 20th of May as opposed to the 22nd you’d save yourself over £180. It’s such an easy way to visually see the best options.
These search engines are also a great way to find cheap flights to any destination. For example, Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” option lets you set a departure airport, travel dates or even a travel period and search for flights everywhere in the world.
You’re then taken to a page which has an extensive list of options by prices for the search criteria you’ve input. You can even click the drop-down menu for each country to see different destinations within said country. The below example looked at return flights from London Heathrow for the month of May and shows the cheapest 5 countries. Each country can be expanded to see the exact destination and details. Plus the list extends far beyond these 5 destinations, with the below just a snapshot. It’s a great tool for finding cheap flights.
Google Flights and Kayak both have very similar tools and even plot destinations and prices on a map as opposed to Skyscanner’s list view. Not all search engines are created equal, although these three are certainly the best. So just be sure to browse each one separately as they might throw up slightly different results.
A final note on the flight search engines. Having found a flight that works for you, you’ll end up at a page that has a selection of booking sites where you then proceed to book the flight. Often there will be a few sites that are coming out a little bit cheaper than the airline’s actual website. We recommend always booking directly with the airline themselves (unless there is a huge difference in price) as it will make things a lot easier should the flight be cancelled or you have to obtain a refund.
In truth there are always great deals to be had with flights, sadly it might not be for exactly where you had in mind. If you’re flexible about when and where you want to go you’re bound to secure yourself the best bargain. However, even if you are set on a destination or date. The tools above will still allow you to browse an endless amount of options in the hope of securing yourself the best deal.
Consider Budget Airlines
Budget airlines are a great option for travellers who are on a tight budget. These airlines offer lower fares than traditional airlines, and all major geographical locations have budget carriers that service them. Granted they may not provide the best service or luxury travel experience. And they often charge extra fees for baggage, seat selection, and meals. But ultimately it’s about the destination itself not necessarily how you get there (at least when flying). Just be sure these fees don’t end up making the flight cost more than a traditional carrier, plus double-check the location of the budget airlines airport at your destination. As often these carriers use less traditional airports which can be quite far from the “city” they claim to serve. Budget airlines also typically operate short and medium-haul routes, making long-haul flights tricky. Below is a list of carriers for different regions.
Europe: Ryanair, Easyjet, Eurowings, Wizz Air, Vueling, Norwegian Air
Australia / New Zealand: Jetstar
Asia: Air Asia, Scoot, Lion Air, Jeju Air, Spring Airlines, VietJet Air, IndiGo, Spice Jet, Nok Air, Peach Air
Canada: Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat, Swoop, Sunwing, WestJet, Porter, Flair Airlines
USA: Allegiant Air, Frontier, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue
Midlle East: Pegasus, flyDubai, Air Arabia
Dont Always Fly Direct
As well as being flexible with your dates and destination, it helps to be flexible with the route you take. While adding a layover / stop to the journey will increase the time it takes to get to your destination. It can be considerably cheaper as opposed to flying direct. You’ll have to weigh up the potential money savings against the added journey time and make a decision that suits you. One way to see if adding a stop is cheaper is by using the search engines above. They often show different options which are direct or have multiple stops allowing you to compare price and journey times differences easily.
Additionally if flying longer distances it might be cheaper to fly to a nearby city or country and then use a budget carrier to finish off the final leg of the journey, or vice versa. For example, if you wish to travel from London to Thailand, some flights will likely go direct. But it might be cheaper to Fly from London to Singapore and then fly from Singapore to Thailand. This may be with one airline or through the use of multiple airlines. Just be sure if you do book separate legs of the trip with different airlines, you give yourself enough time to make the connection. Three hours is often the minimum requirement.
This method can be a bit more time-consuming having to check lots of different routes and options, but it can lead to some big savings. Plus you may even get to spend a little time in an extra destination if you plan it well.
Use Multiple Airlines and Airports
Using multiple airlines and airports is another way to find the best flight deals and save money. Sometimes, it can be cheaper to book two one-way tickets instead of a round-trip ticket. Also, using different airports can help you save on airfare. For example, flying into a smaller airport can be cheaper than flying into a major airport. Additionally, using multiple airlines can help you take advantage of different promotions and discounts. This point ties in nicely with the one made above and basically means it’s good to shop around.
Sign Up for Email Alerts
Signing up for email alerts from airlines, flight search engines or even dedicated flight-saving websites can help you stay updated on the latest deals and promotions. You’ll receive notifications about flash sales, special deals, and discounts. Yes, 95% of what you receive likely won’t be relevant or fit your itinerary. But every now and then you might find yourself a steal. You can also sign up for newsletters from airlines or frequent flyer programs, which can help you earn points and rewards that you can use to save on future bookings.
Use Reward Points and Miles
Using credit card rewards is another way to save money when booking flight tickets. Many credit card companies offer rewards points and miles that you can use to pay for flights. You can also earn bonus points or miles for signing up for a new credit card or making a certain amount of purchases in a specific timeframe. If you’re smart and select a rewards card that’s right for you, you can often bag yourself free flights with very little effort other than your usual everyday spending.
Finding the best flight deals and saving money when booking tickets requires some research, flexibility, and planning. It may take some effort and a little creativity but deals are always out there for those willing to find them. However, don’t spend hours looking for the perfect deal. When starting your search you’ll soon get a sense of what a good price is, so don’t set unrealistic expectations on price. Once you find a fare you’re happy with, book as soon as possible. Ticket prices are constantly changing and trying to play the system in the hope prices will reduce is highly unlikely to work. With these tips and tricks, you can find the best flight deals and create memorable travel experiences without breaking the bank.
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