To offset the costs of maintaining, operating, and operating aircraft from one location to another, airlines will use a multitude of tricks to get as much revenue as possible from each flight. Sometimes this means you can pay more for the same flight.
In this article, we’ll look at how you can find cheap flights online and save money on what could be the most expensive part of your travel expenses.
Note: While price comparison sites are great, it should be noted that not all airlines are included on these sites. For example, Southwest doesn’t show up on Expedia, Orbitz, or any of the sites we mention below, but sometimes they have the best prices for domestic flights in the United States.
Start with price comparison sites, not airlines
Many people still go directly to their favorite airline or booking website. You can save several hundred dollars simply by shopping elsewhere. Thankfully, there are plenty of online tools available to save you the hassle of comparing prices yourself.
Flight comparison sites will search the web within seconds, finding the absolute best price for you on your chosen flights. They will suggest several different airlines on various booking sites.
One of the most popular price comparison sites is Skyscanner. This powerful website allows you to find the best prices for your flights by specific date or different prices for each day of the particular month.
You can go to Skyscanner, enter your departure location, your destination and then the date. Our best advice is to enter the month you want to travel. Here is an example.
As you can see from the image above, the calendar is provided with some very useful information about the best price for each day. By planning ahead, we can get a cheaper flight by choosing the most optimal dates.
Once the departure and return dates have been selected, you can click Show flights for an overview of what booking sites and airlines can offer these days.
Skyscanner will give you control over choosing the fastest, cheapest flights, or something in between.
Of course, there are many other price comparison options for finding flights. While Skyscanner is very popular, many people have already started turning to Google Flights.
Just like Skyscanner, Google Flights there is a very powerful search engine that can scour the internet for the best prices. You can quickly browse through the days and months to find the best possible date.
While we think you’ll be fine with just Google Flights and Skyscanner, some other popular options include Momondo, fareand Cheap.
Using a price comparison tool like the ones mentioned above can be a great way to find the cheapest flights possible for your selected dates, but you can save even more by being flexible departure and return times.
For example, switching the date of your flight for just two days can save you hundreds of dollars on long-haul flights. Both Skyscanner and Google Flights can tell you how prices can vary on different days.
Book Far Enough Ahead
While Skyscanner and Google Flights can help you find the best possible flight prices, there are still tactics you can use to further limit your overall costs. One of the biggest pieces of advice we can give is to plan as far in advance as possible.
It is very common that the price will increase as you get closer to the departure date. This is because airlines will start with a base price, but as the supply of tickets on a given flight goes down, the price goes up.
The best thing you can do is book as far in advance as possible, especially for long-haul flights that may not happen as often as shorter flights. The average ‘best’ time to book is 47 days before flight, but you can find great deals 117 days before departure.
Another great thing about planning ahead is that you can actually sign up for price alerts on both Skyscanner and Google Flights. If an attractive price falls within the date range you have selected, you will be notified by email.
Fly often? Loyal
It can save you money in the short term if you just take the cheapest airline possible, but if you’ll be flying to and from the same location frequently, try to go with the same airline.
Many airlines will have loyalty systems that reward you for flying with them. You can still use Skyscanner and Google Flights to find the best price for that particular airline, but you may get the added benefit of free or discounted flight costs.
Another great way to save on flights is to use a travel rewards credit card. You should use your credit card for daily purchases to accumulate points and over time you will have enough to get free flights.
Note about Cookies and Incognito Mode
Many people believe that using cookies and switching to incognito mode can save you money on your flights. While this may be true if you go directly to an airline’s website, you shouldn’t have this problem if you use Skyscanner and Google Flights.
Every time Google Flights or Skyscanner performs a search, your cookies or previous browsing data won’t have any impact on the results. Prices will adjust sporadically on both platforms, but this will be because airlines use complex systems to get the best revenue possible.
These systems look at things like current interest in their flights, seats booked and the time from current date to departure date.
In summary, clearing cookies or browsing in incognito mode is not necessary if you use the comparison sites mentioned earlier.
Attention when booking
Once you’ve finally found your flight, be extra careful when booking. Airlines will try to force you to buy as much as possible.
You may have to pay a bit more to choose your seat, but adding things like meals on short-haul flights or special packages will increase your price quite a bit. Avoid extras unless you really need them.
Some airlines will also use tactics to trick you into spending more. An example might be an airline that would suggest packages that include baggage before sending you to a separate baggage page.
Without reading carefully, you may end up spending more money on a package when you can save money by picking out specific features you need on your flight.
Here’s an example from Jetstar. In the image below, you are shown the package page before being taken to the baggage page. At a glance, you might think you have to pay $15.99 for 20kg of checked baggage.
However, if you just click on the starter pack, you will see on the next page that 20KG checked baggage can be purchased for as little as $9 and you can save even more if you have heavy luggage than.
For a final note on this, make sure you’ve carefully considered what you’re buying before purchasing your ticket. However, make sure you buy the things you need online, as extras like meals or checked baggage at the airport can be more expensive if you don’t buy them initially.
To summarize this article, here are the tips we recommend to help you find cheap flights online.
- Use price comparison sites like Google Flights and Skyscanner
- Book far enough in advance: 47-117 days is the most optimal
- Use a travel credit card or the same airline if you travel often
- Be careful what you’re buying when choosing add-ons when booking
Thanks for taking the time to read our article. Hopefully the information provided here proves useful. Interesting!