Finding the cheapest flights is now almost a competition. Booking flights has become easy – finding the best flight for yourself, preferably the cheapest, is a challenge.
You want to travel around the world but your budget does not allow it? Don’t worry: long-distance travel doesn’t have to be expensive. With these 15 practical tips you will find lots of cheap flights in no time at all and avoid price traps. This is our small guide for cheap flight deals.
How To Find Cheap Flights?
With so many available airlines and tickets nowadays, it is never easy to do right. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile doing some research before buying the plane ticket. With a few tricks, you will be able to find tickets that may be several hundred dollars cheaper. Today, we give you the 15 most important tips for finding cheap flights.
- 1. How To Find Cheap Flights?
- 1 Use Flight Search Engines
- 3 Be flexible with the travel date
- 2 Check out nearby airports
- 4 Book Open-Jaw Tickets
- 5 Make use of Stop-Overs
- 6 Book as early as possible
- 7 Check out the airlines website
- 8 Look at the fine print
- 9 Don't always take the cheapest flight deal
- 10 Forget the bonus miles
- 11 Clear the cache before booking
- 12 Search for Error Fares
- 13 Speculate on compensation
- 14 Subscribe to Airlines' newsletter
- 15 Save at the parking lot
#1 - Use Flight Search Engines
The first step in finding cheap airline tickets is to use the right search engine.With the so-called metasearch engines you do not just search through the offers of a single travel agency, but you automatically compare the prices of different travel service providers.
There are a number of providers. We mostly use Skyscanner, because we simply got used it. But Google Flights and Momondo are equally good options. Each of these search engines have their own strengths:
What’s the difference between Google Flights, Skyscanner and Momondo?
The usual flight search engines get the prices from travel agencies. As a result, these are not always up to date. In contrast, Google Flights directly accesses the data of the airlines. Google claims it can undercut any offer with the cheapest flight.
You have to be careful with the flight search engines, as high fees when paying by credit card, bank transfer or PayPal are added to the booking.
#2 - Be flexible with the travel date
It is no secret that prices for flights can change significantly depending on supply and demand. In general, the flight times during which many people want to fly are particularly expensive. On the one hand, there are fixed holidays such as Christmas or Easter. But flights on Friday after work and on Sunday evenings often cost more. Connections during the week, however, are significantly cheaper.
This is where Skyscanner’s advantage comes into play again, as you can search for flexibly there. For example, if you want to go to Germany for a month in the coming February, You simply enter “Germany” at the departure airport “New York” and the date “February”.
Ideally, it will give you all connections between New York and Germany and I could see that flights to Frankfurt are cheaper than those to Munich. Unfortunately, this function does not always work reliably for remote destinations. But it gives good clues. Just test it yourself or even try open return tickets.
#3 - Check out nearby airports
You may be able to save a lot if you don’t fly directly to your destination, but instead choose an airport nearby. This applies in particular to national borders. Sometimes, it is also worth flying on from a neighboring airport with low-cost airlines. A look at the surroundings is worthwhile at the following airports:
- Hong Kong / Macau / Shenzhen / Guangzhou: The Pearl River Delta has four major international airports that you can change in a few hours. For example, if you want to go from Beijing to Hong Kong, you can easily save a hundred dollars if you fly to Shenzhen and take the subway across the border to Hong Kong.
- Singapore / Johor Bahru: While Singapore is an important hub for intercontinental flights, just a few kilometers behind the border on the Malaysian side is Johor Bahru Airport, which is a hub for the low-cost airline Air Asia and offers many flights to the region.
- Miami / Fort Lauderdale: There is a similar situation in Florida. Miami can be reached cheaply from Europe, while Fort Lauderdale has inexpensive connections to Latin America. The journey between the two airports takes only about an hour on the train.
The IATA matrix is particularly suitable for the area search. However, you cannot book the flights there directly.
#4 - Book Open-Jaw Tickets
Whenever possible, keep an eye out for open-jaw tickets. For example, you will fly from Munich to New York and return from Los Angeles to Munich. You cover the distance in between by bus or train.
Such flights are not necessarily cheaper. But you can avoid buying a flight (or a long bus ride) back to your destination. This not only saves you money, it saves you valuable time. It makes sense to do this when traveling in large countries or when traveling across several countries.
Note that you may be required to show an exit / onward ticket upon entry. The following routes are particularly suitable for fork flights:
- From Singapore to Bangkok and vice versa
- From Beijing to Hong Kong and vice versa
- From Delhi to Mumbai and vice versa
- From Mexico to Panama and vice versa
#5 - Make use of Stop-Overs
In the rarest of cases, you fly directly. Most of the time you will have to change somewhere. Many airlines allow the flight to be interrupted and a (free) multi-day stopover. That means you can get to know another country along the way.
There are good options for a stopover on the following routes: Reykjavik on the way to North America, Helsinki on the way to Northeast Asia, Lisbon on the way to South America and Istanbul on the way to Southeast Asia. All of these routes are known for their free stopover programs.
On other routes, you often have to pay something when you want to leave the airport. Nevertheless, you will hardly have a chance to connect two travel destinations so cheaply again.
Warning: If you just leave the airport, your ticket may lose its validity. You should definitely read in the fine print whether stopovers are allowed.
#6 - Book as early as possible
Many people have found that last-minute offers are particularly cheap. If a flight has not been selling well, in rare cases, the airline actually lowers the price to at least cover the costs. Most of the time, the opposite is true because short-term passengers (mostly business travelers) are often willing to pay higher fees.
In our experience, scheduled flights are cheapest about two months before departure with their early bird discounts. A while ago, Skyscanner calculated in a study that most tickets are the cheapest around five weeks before departure. However, you generally have to differentiate between traditional airlines and low-cost airlines. The latter know only one direction in terms of price: upwards. It is worth booking here as soon as possible.
#7 - Check out the airlines website
As soon as you have found the cheapest date on Skyscanner, you should take a look at the airline’s website to be on the safe side. Travelers repeatedly report that they were able to find particularly cheap flights on the airlines’ websites or at least lower fees for the use of credit cards were incurred.
We rarely book on the airlines’ website because we never never been able to find cheaper flights there. Instead you have to deal with super-unfriendly website designs which make the booking process of flights tickets not easier.
If you book the tickets directly with the airlines, you have a better chance of seeing your money again in case of a refund.
#8 - Look at the fine print
It’s no secret that low-cost airlines try to get more money out of passengers with all kinds of extra fees. Fees for checking in luggage, for on-board catering or for choosing a seat. Such services are usually included with traditional airlines. Think about whether you need these additional services and consider them when comparing prices.
The rebooking fees are just as important. When booking longer trips, it is worth taking a closer look at the fees. With a few airlines you can rebook free of charge, with others not at all. In most cases, however, a fee of US$50 to US$200 is due.
If you want to stay flexible with your travel dates, pay a little more to get a rebooking chance. Unfortunately, the rebooking fees are difficult to find on many booking portals. In general, we have found that Asian airlines are more flexible than European ones.
#9 - Don't always take the cheapest flight deal
One of the big disadvantages of Skyscanner and Co is that the results are only sorted according to the price, but not according to the quality of the travel agencies arranged.
We have read about travel agencies which tickets did not issue or cannot be reached by phone if there are any problems. A Spanish travel agency supposedly regularly takes a month to answer complaint emails. Is that really worth saving US$10?
To avoid nasty surprises, we take a look at the Trustpilot review portal and check the travel agencies we do not know. If the provider has bad ratings, we prefer to choose a slightly more expensive option or book directly with the airline.
#10 - Forget the bonus miles
Yes, you read this correct! Forget about any bonus miles. Airlines try to lure us with the air miles. Earning miles can be worthwhile in individual cases, so there is no reason not to register with one or more networks.
Some of your team members were member of the Star Alliance for a long time and were able to fly a few free flights. But don’t be fooled by mileage cosmetics and never choose an expensive flight just to get miles.
The problem is that there is a high probability that you will never be able to use the miles wisely. First, most programs expire within three years unless you take an overpriced credit card. Second, you have to pay for airport taxes, security fees and fuel surcharges for “free flights”. A free flight is at best as expensive as a direct flight with a low-cost airline.
#11 - Clear the cache before booking
When we were looking for cheap flights to Mexico a few days ago, we noticed something strange: We first searched for flights directly at a travel agency and then the same flight details with Skyscanner. The price at the travel agency was US$760, but Skyscanner showed exactly the same flight for US$750.
That alone is not particularly surprising, since metasearch engines use the prices from the cache and may not have taken into account short-term price changes. But when I clicked on the travel agency via Skyscanner, the price at Skyscanner did not rise by US$10 as expected.
What does this teach us? Travel agencies show different prices depending on the origin of the visitors. The logic behind it is understandable: If you search directly on their site, you are very likely a converting customer. The situation is different for users who find the travel agency via search engines. You obviously want the cheapest price.
If you repeatedly check the price of a particular flight, the airlines recognize your great interest in this connection and increase the price.
Even we did not succeed in reduplicating , it is probably not a bad idea to make the final booking in another browser or better still with another computer.
#12 - Search for Mistake Fares
With the fully automated booking process, it can happen that the price of a flight is too cheap due to calculation errors. Since the tickets are no longer checked when they are issued, there is a very high probability that you can actually fly with a so-called mistake fare.
How do you find such incorrect flight deals? The best known mistake fare is the fuel dump. Due to a calculation errors, the surcharges for the fuel can no longer apply. Fuel dumps can be deliberately provoked with a lot of knowledge, experience and enormous time resources to find them. You can find (semi-finished) instructions on the internet.
#13 - Speculate on compensation
The EU has gradually strengthened the rights of air passengers. If a flight is delayed massively, you are entitled to a generous compensation. If, for example, you arrive at the destination of your long-haul flight with a delay of more than four hours, you may be entitled to compensation of US$600.
You can take advantage of this and speculate on delays when booking. Especially with very scarce connections, there is a good chance that you will miss the connecting flight. Before you do this, however, you should definitely clarify the conditions under which you are entitled to compensation.
Subscribe to the airlines’ newsletters or flight search engines. This is particularly worthwhile in Asia (e.g. AirAsia) or renowned airlines (Qatar, Etihad, Lufthansa). Here you will often find attractive offers for a limited time.
#15 - Save at the parking lot
If you drive to the airport by car, you probably are annoyed by the incredibly expensive prices of the parking lots. However, there is also an incredible saving potential if you switch to alternative parking options.
This could be outside parking spaces on the airport site, which are a bit further away from the terminal and are therefore cheaper. However, some airports also have off-site parking facilities that are connected by a shuttle bus.
If you travel to the airport by car, it may be worth comparing the different parking options.