Today’s post is going to cover ten tips about how to find cheap flights. Give this one a quick read. Your wallet will thank you later.
Disclaimer: This post was originally written in June 2020 and was updated during winter 2022 for relevancy.
1. Always Search For Cheap Flights In A Private Browser
How to find cheap flights? In a private browser. It’s not abnormal to see flight prices change the second or third time you’ve searched them. Websites track human activity and tend to increase their prices to pressure travelers into booking flights, especially if they’ve seen popular routes searched several times. Put your laptop in incognito mode next time you browse!
2. Utilize Helpful Flight Comparison Sites
There are countless websites out there for tracking flights, but these two tools are my personal go-to’s. Use Google Flights to compare flight deals. If a flight on a departure day is showing red, it’s expensive and is likely to drop in the future. Don’t fly out on that day! If it’s yellow, it’s okay to book and if it’s green, it’s a great deal – grab it! I like to play around with dates on Google Flights and compare prices that way.
Use Skyscanner to actually book your flights. Skyscanner collects data about the cheapest flights and pools them together so you’re bound to find the best deal here. Although you may have to book on a third-party site, I promise it’s trustworthy. I used this website for almost all my trips during both my semesters abroad!
3. Be Flexible With Your Departure Date
Only if possible of course. But, it is cheaper to fly out on weekdays, especially Tuesdays. The difference between a flight on a Thursday morning versus a Friday morning may save you hundreds.
4. Sign Up For Frequent Flyer Numbers And Use Points
I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been flying since I was 9 months old and just created frequent flyer numbers this past March. With all the miles I’ve flown, especially on flights like LA to Sydney and NYC to Beijing, I would’ve probably had enough points for a few free domestic flights by now. Don’t make the same mistake I did and create accounts! If you live in the US and travel often here are the frequent flyer accounts you should have:
Travel credit cards are another way to accumulate points. By signing up for a travel card, you earn a ton of points. A lot of travelers will do this repeatedly, in a way called travel hacking, and collect points from their everyday spending. Not saying this is for everyone, but opening up a card can save you thousands if you fly often. I have the Bank of America Travel Rewards card and really like it! For every travel-related dollar I spend, I earn one point which can be used to buy flights, pay off my bill, etc. It’s free money!
5. Get Comfy With Budget Airlines
Budget airlines are my best friends. They may not come with much – most don’t serve food, don’t include baggage, and often have less than comfy seats, but can save you some big bucks. As long as you don’t mind a stiff economy seat, flying on a budget airline will save you a lot in the long run.
Pro-tip: Be aware of baggage fees when flying budget. Since most airlines don’t include bags, they may charge you a lot for your luggage to make up for the cheap ticket.
Here are some of the world’s most well-known budget airlines:
- USA: Frontier, Spirit, Norwegian
- Australia/NZ: Jetstar, TigerAir, Scoot
- Asia: Scoot, AirAsia, Jetstar
- Europe: EasyJet, WOW Air, RyanAir, Vueling
6. Look Out For Airline Mistakes
When publishing flights to their websites, airline companies can make mistakes. It may not happen often, but simple mistakes are made that create huge money saving opportunities for travelers. Whether its a currency conversion error or just a typo, this is another way to score a cheap flight deal.
Many companies track these mistakes. How to find cheap flights? Scott’s Cheap Flights. By signing up for these emails, I receive daily notifications with flight deals from my home airport to locations around the world. I’ve seen deals as good as $500 roundtrip from Boston to Tokyo, so stay alert!
7. Book Connecting Flights Yourself
Book connecting flights yourself with long layovers to explore! It’s no secret connecting flights are always cheaper than direct flights, but some can still be very pricey. Booking flights with a long layover in-between may not be convenient if you need to be home right away, but these flights are often very cheap if you’re not in a time crunch!
My friends and I did this when we flew from Bali back to Sydney during our semester abroad in Australia last spring. We had a 22 hour layover in Singapore! Not only did this give us a bonus trip in Singapore (plus we didn’t have to pay for a place to stay), it was way cheaper than if we flew direct.
Pro-tip: IcelandAir is another airline that encourages long layovers! Iceland encourages tourists to visit on a free stopover before continuing on your journey. Check out their deals!
8. Mix & Match Airlines
Similar to the point I made above, booking separate tickets can be a major money saver. It’s a secret hack that booking two separate one way tickets is often much cheaper than booking a roundtrip fare. Additionally, mix and match airlines to find the best deals. For example, if you’re flying from California to New York, maybe consider flying Delta one way and JetBlue on the way back. This is one of the best tips about how to find cheap flights.
9. Book Flights 6-8 Weeks Before Departure
There’s no guidebook that tells us when flights are at their lowest, but I do know the “ideal window” to book a flight is about 6-8 weeks before your departure date. Booking too soon may cause you to miss out on last-minute deals and booking too late may be pricey.
Pro-tip: Apparently flights are cheapest on Tuesday’s at 3 pm. Not sure how true this actually is, but check it out!
10. Keep An Eye Out For Special Deals
And this brings us to tip #10! Keep an eye out for special/seasonal flight deals. This may seem obvious, but a lot of people miss them. Airlines may offer discount fares throughout the year as part of seasonal promotions or special occasions. For example, in October 2019, JetBlue was offering $31 one-way domestic flights to all travelers flying out on October 31! Stay alert for deals such as these.
Those are my tips! These ten tips are major money savers, and when combined, are sure to score you some very cheap flights. If you’re interested in hearing more, listen to my latest podcast episode (episode #5) to learn more about flight deals!
Welcome to The Abroad Pod! Your go-to podcast for all things work, life, and study abroad. I’m your host, Nicole, and each week I share helpful travel tips & tricks, especially for all you 20-somethings eager to explore the world on a budget. Each episode also features a destination segment, covering useful country-specific information. As a 20-something myself who studied abroad 3x in college and has traveled to 35+ countries, I can’t wait to share my abroad stories and hacks with you all. My hope is to inspire and educate you each week!
Ep. 15: Happy Wednesday! Welcome back to The Abroad Pod, your go-to podcast for all things abroad! I'm your host Nicole and today's episode is actually the season finale for season 2. I wrapped season 1 with 15 episodes and decided to do the same with season 2. I will be working on a season 3 at some point (I can't imagine putting my mic away for good!!!), but am going to take a nice long break for now to focus on my blog, work, and some fun summer plans!
In today's episode I cover some life updates and share a very exciting announcement! This announcement is a new goal I'll be working towards, and is some podcast-exclusive information! I haven't shared this plan on social or my blog yet, but I will soon. I wrap up this episode with a short travel Q&A to answer some of YOUR questions about packing best practices, the world of SEO and digital marketing, and more.
Thank you so much to everyone who has tuned in to one of my episodes and has left a review. It means the world! Talk soon! -Nicole
My links: https://www.theabroadblog.com/explore/
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