I guess you’d like to know How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible? We’ve all gone through the aggravating process of attempting to find the cheapest airfares to any given destination. The approach to cheap flight booking is daunting, with infinite search engines and constantly varying pricing. When planning your next ticket, here are some helpful hints that will save you time, frustration, and, most importantly, money. If you are a student, it is assumed that you have ofcourse gotten your visa.
1. KEEP YOUR RESEARCHES A SECRET
You’re not insane if you think the price of a flight has changed after looking for it several times on your browser. Travel prices do increase when a particular route is regularly searched, based on cookies in your browser, as the site aims to scare you into buying the flight immediately before prices go even higher. To see the best prices, always search for flights in incognito or private browser mode.
In Google Chrome or Safari, hit Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “N” to enable incognito mode. Press Command (or “Control” on a PC), Shift, “P” to open Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. This will create a separate browser window where your data will not be tracked, and prices will not be inflated as you search. Note: If you’re using an older version of OS X, launch Safari, then select “Private Browsing” from the menu bar.
When you re-open an incognito window, your cookies are reset. Close all your incognito windows, open a new one, and then perform your flight search.
2. USE THE BEST FLIGHT SEARCH ENGINES
As part of collecting a cut from the airlines, all search engines have exaggerated flight costs. Some search engines (for example, Expedia) exaggerate prices substantially higher than others (listed below). It’s a good idea to get to know the sites that offer the best deals.
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Most low-cost airlines will now appear in the broad search engines we recommend as of 2020. (but NOT Southwest). If you want to be absolutely certain, perform a second search for regional budget airlines (we’ve listed as many as we know lower down).
Finally, no single search engine is flawless all of the time (though we typically find the cheapest price on Skyscanner or Momondo). As a result, you may need to use many search engines to ensure you don’t miss any results. There doesn’t appear to be one that consistently finds the cheapest flight.
3. FIND THE CHEAPEST DAY TO TRAVEL.
While there are numerous beliefs about booking on a Tuesday to save money, the truth is that there is no consistent truth about which days are the cheapest to travel. It is usually cheaper to travel on a weekday, but this is not always the case. The best technique is to get a brief snapshot of rates for the entire month to discover which days are the cheapest for your particular route. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Go to the Skyscanner website or get the Skyscanner app.
Step 2: Enter the cities of your departure and arrival.
Step 3: Choose “one-way” (even if you’re travelling round trip; you’re only looking for the cheapest days to fly out first).
Step 4: On a computer, click “Depart,” but instead of inputting a date, choose “Whole Month,” then “Cheapest Month” to discover which dates are the cheapest. To simply check which day is the cheapest, click “Search flights.”
In the app for mobile devices: Change the display to “Chart” after tapping the departure date. To locate the cheapest date, simply swipe left and right, and tap on one of the bars to view the pricing.
If necessary, repeat these steps for your return flight. You can still plan a round trip in one booking, but by going through these steps first, you’ll be able to determine which days are normally less expensive to fly in and out on for your round trip.
Kiwi.com and Google Flights are similar to Skyscanner, but they also have map views so you can see where the airport is located. Hopper also offers pricing research and tracking variations to help you figure out when and where it’s cheapest to fly (i.e. when is best to fly).
4. GET FREE AIRLINE TICKETS WITH POINTS
The cheapest flight is free, and the most convenient way to do so is using points. If you don’t have any, don’t worry: signing up for just one travel rewards credit card and spending the required minimum will net you a significant points bonus, which is often enough to get you a free flight!
You can sign up for an airline rewards card to earn points with a specific airline or a more general travel rewards card to redeem points with multiple airlines. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a good starter card. After spending $4,000 in the first three months after opening your account, you can earn up to 80,000 extra points. When redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards, that’s worth $1,000, which is more than enough for an overseas journey. It’s the ideal all-rounder travel credit card because it offers trip cancellation insurance, car rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage insurance, and no foreign transaction fees. This card can be compared to other top credit cards.
5. BUDGET-FRIENDLY AIRLINES
Budget airlines sell tickets for a fraction of the price of full-service flights. It should go without saying, but this comes with trade-offs like reduced leg room and no “free” food or drink on board (which by the way, is normally covered in your higher-priced ticket with full-service airlines).
If you’re thinking about flying budget, which we think is a terrific way to save money, I’d highly recommend reading our guide on 7 Budget Airlines Must-Know Facts.
A thorough list of low-cost airlines from across the world is provided below. Where budget airlines don’t exist or aren’t plentiful, red denotes actual budget airlines, whereas blue denotes the lowest businesses accessible.
However, first… A WARNING ABOUT BOOKING CHEAP AIRLINES. Always read the small print and take the following precautions:
1. Determine the location of the airport (some budget airlines fly to airports further out of town).
2. Confirm that your luggage allowance has been booked and paid for. Follow the weight, height, and number of bags authorised restrictions. If you’re above, certain airlines (such as Ryanair) may charge you a high price. Remember that budget airlines maintain their prices cheaper than traditional airlines by charging only for the exact amount of luggage space/weight you require!
3. Pay attention to the small print. Ryanair, for example, will charge a €/£55 AIRPORT CHECK-IN FEE if you do not check-in online and print your boarding card, or use their mobile boarding pass. In the first sentence of your e-confirmation, this cost is clearly indicated in all capital letters. In a nutshell, read and obey directions at all times!
Remember to be flexible, do your homework, and be aware of the budget airline’s rules and constraints if you want to book the lowest flight feasible (not the service-of-the-year-award-winner).
6. LOOK FOR AIRLINE ERRORS AND SALE OPPORTUNITIES
When airlines announce their fares, they sometimes make mistakes, resulting in heavily discounted trips. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including currency conversion errors, technical issues, or human error. You can save hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket if you know where to look for airline error tickets.
Scott’s Cheap Flights (or Jack’s Flight Club if you’re in the UK) is one of the most popular sites for tracking bargain and error fares. Every day, a professional crew searches the internet for flight offers for the website. Simply create an account and enter your departure airport to begin receiving flight offers in your inbox. There’s also a premium account for $49/year (with a 20% discount if you use the code TNOMADS20), which gets you access to even more flight bargains at even lower prices. Members save an average of $550 each ticket, so it’s definitely worth the investment!
Other resources to stalk for spotting mistake and discount prices are Airfarewatchdog, Kiwi.com Deals, and Secret Flying, which aggregate cut ticket rates together in one place. You can also read our comprehensive how-to guide, which explains how to locate error fares on your own. One excellent strategy is to use Skyscanner to search for flights for an entire month (Tip #3 in this post). This will make it easy for you to detect a considerably reduced fare compared to what’s posted that month, and it’s already helped us spot incorrect fares twice.
7. SAVE MONEY BY BOOKING CONNECTING FLIGHTS ON YOUR OWN
Consider booking these two legs individually by adding another destination to your journey if you’re flying somewhere that requires a transfer, such as from Canada to Australia, which normally involves Canada to LA, then LA to Australia. It should go without saying that you should avoid booking tight layovers while doing so. Do not schedule layovers that are more than an hour apart! This technique is for people who want to add a few days or more to their trip before boarding their next flight. The one exception is when buying through Kiwi.com, which provides its own guarantee on connecting flights, even if they are not with the same partner airline.
First, do your homework: are there any inexpensive airlines specific to the country from where you’re departing and the destination? When flying back from Australia to Canada earlier this year, we saved over $400 each by booking with an inexpensive Australian airline (Jetstar) from Sydney to Honolulu, then an American carrier from Honolulu to Montreal. This allowed us to plan a cost-effective five-day stopover in Hawaii on our way back, which was less exhausting and significantly less expensive! Kiwi.com and AirWander are also excellent search engines for locating cheaper multi-airline trips like this.
You may even create your own multi-day layovers, basically letting you to visit two different places for the price of one. Rather than spending a day in the airport, you can spend many days enjoying the place where you are stopping. AirWander is a customised search engine that allows you to do just that. Enter your starting point, ending point, and the number of days you want to spend in transit. AirWander can provide you with a selection of places to visit during your layover, typically at a lower cost than a traditional travel search engine! Read our tutorial on How to Get Free Extended Layovers & Turn One Trip Into Two to understand how to do this.
8. BOOK RIGHT AWAY IF YOU KNOW WHEN AND WHERE YOU’RE GOING
When your departure date approaches, airline tickets rarely become cheaper, especially if you need to fly on a specific date. Budget airlines often provide low fares as a starting point, and as these tickets sell, the prices of the remaining seats rise. In Europe and Australia, this is fairly common. Don’t wait for an unknown sale if you know when and where you’re travelling. When you can, book as far in advance as possible to save the most money.
9. CHECK TO SEE IF PAYING IN ANOTHER CURRENCY IS CHEAPER.
Consider whether the rate is lower if paid in a different currency before booking a flight. Budget airlines frequently require you to pay in the currency of the nation from which you are departing, although this is not always the case. Important note: make sure you’re using a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, otherwise your efforts to save money will be wasted! If you’re looking for the best credit cards for travel, check out our post on money matters for international travellers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- When booking tickets, choose the right search engine – Skyscanner is our favourite and can help you find cheap flights.
- When looking for consistent pricing, always search incognito.
- Sign up for a travel rewards credit card and use it for ordinary purchases to earn enough points for a free flight. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is our top pick, with a $1,000 sign-up bonus after meeting the minimum spending requirement.
- To save money, schedule multiple legs of a long-haul travel separately, or even extend your layover to see two cities for the price of one.
- Purchase several one-way tickets in bulk — return and multi-city tickets are frequently less expensive than single one-way tickets.
- Don’t wait for seat sales – the longer ahead you book, the more you save.