For most journeys, the cost of airfare remains the most substantial expense. Despite recent reductions in transatlantic flight prices, they can still significantly impact any travel budget. Whether you’re a budget-conscious solo traveler or a family planning an international vacation, finding a cheap flight can be the deciding factor for your trip’s success.
Every day, airlines offer thousands of incredible deals, ranging from mistakenly published fares to special promotions and price reductions to stay competitive. Affordable fares exist and can transform your dream trip into reality—if you know where to look.
How to Find Cheap Flights Regardless of Your Destination
Today, I’m here to guide you in mastering the art of finding budget-friendly flights. These are the precise steps I’ve followed for a decade to secure the most economical airfare every time I fly. By following these steps, you’ll avoid being the person on a flight who paid the highest price for their ticket!
1. Disregard the Myths
The key to finding a reasonably priced flight is understanding that there is no magical solution or secret trick. Numerous online myths about securing budget flights may have crossed your path, but they are entirely untrue. Some common misconceptions that do not hold true include:
- Buying airfare on a specific day, like Tuesday, does not guarantee a lower price.
- Browsing in private mode does not result in more economical offers.
- There is no precise date or time frame for booking airfare.
- Predicting airline prices is unreliable, as websites offering such predictions often make educated yet inaccurate guesses.
Airlines employ sophisticated computer algorithms to set prices based on factors such as the time of year, passenger demand, weather, major events, time of day, competitor prices, fuel costs, and more. The previously touted “tricks” no longer influence the system. Disregard these myths; they will only lead you astray.
2. Flexibility with Travel Dates and Times
Airline ticket prices fluctuate significantly based on the day of the week, time of year, and upcoming holidays. To secure a cost-effective ticket, try to be flexible with your travel dates. If you can avoid flying during peak periods when everyone else is flying, you’re more likely to find a more affordable fare. Flying off-season or on less popular travel days can lead to substantial savings.
Consider flying during the middle of the week, as weekends tend to be more expensive due to higher demand. Additionally, early-morning or late-night flights are usually more affordable, as fewer people prefer to travel at these times. Be strategic about your travel dates, and you’ll find yourself saving money.
3. Flexibility with Destinations
If you’re unable to adjust your travel dates, consider being adaptable with your destination. Modern airline search engines, such as Skyscanner and Google Flights, offer tools that allow you to explore multiple destinations easily. You no longer need to manually search city by city or day by day. Take advantage of these tools to discover potential destinations you hadn’t considered.
4. Be Alert for Special Deals
Before embarking on specific flight searches, ensure you’ve subscribed to newsletters from airlines and last-minute deal websites. While many of the deals may not align with your itinerary, staying informed ensures you won’t miss out on exceptional opportunities. Cheap flights are often available for a limited window, typically around 24 hours. Signing up for newsletters can be the key to accessing the best deals.
5. Consider Budget Carriers
In the past, intercontinental travel was mainly dominated by traditional, expensive airlines. However, the landscape has changed, and budget airlines now offer affordable options for flying around the world. While these carriers may not provide the same level of comfort, they can bring your dream destinations closer without breaking the bank.
When opting for budget carriers, be mindful of additional fees they might charge for services like checked bags, carry-ons, and printing boarding passes. Ensure you calculate the total cost, including fees, to determine if the price is genuinely lower than that of a larger carrier.
6. Embrace Indirect Routes
Being flexible with the route you take is another strategy for securing a cheap flight. Sometimes, it’s more economical to fly to a nearby city and then take a budget airline or train to your final destination. This approach requires more effort in planning but can result in significant cost savings.
To implement this method, check the prices for direct flights to your destination and then explore prices to nearby airports. If the price difference is substantial, consider how much it would cost to reach your final destination from the alternative airport, either through a budget flight or train. While this method demands more work, the potential savings make it worthwhile.
7. Utilize Points and Miles
Consider signing up for a travel rewards card as soon as you decide on a destination. Airline rewards programs offer a primary avenue for frequent travelers to earn free flights, travel perks, and complimentary hotel stays. These programs often include flight upgrades, substantial welcome bonuses, credits for rideshares, access to airport lounges, and more.
Even without spending additional money, you can accumulate points and miles through travel hacking, allowing you to travel around the world inexpensively or even for free. Platforms like point.me can help you optimize the use of your points and miles, ensuring you get the best value.
8. Search for Tickets Individually
When traveling with friends or family, avoid searching for or buying multiple tickets in a single purchase. Airlines typically display the highest ticket price within a group of tickets, meaning you’ll end up paying more. They often group tickets together and list prices based on the highest fare, potentially leading to unnecessary expenses.
Search for tickets as a single traveler and select seats during the checkout process to ensure your group sits together. Even if you end up not sitting side by side, the potential savings outweigh the inconvenience.
9. Explore Tickets in Other Currencies
If your country’s currency is strong compared to others globally, consider searching for airfare in a country where the currency is weaker. This tactic can sometimes yield more affordable ticket prices. Always use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to avoid additional surcharges.
10. Book Early
Airline fares tend to increase as the departure date approaches. Nevertheless, there exists an optimal point when airlines modify fares in response to demand. To optimize your chances of getting the best deal, aim to book your flight around 2-3 months before departure, or up to five months in advance if your travel coincides with the destination’s peak season.
Remember, this is a general guideline, and flexibility is crucial. Airlines often raise prices closer to departure because last-minute bookings are typically made by price-insensitive business travelers.
Finding an economical flight involves a combination of flexibility and creativity. While it may require effort, the potential savings make it worthwhile. Follow the tips provided to initiate your journey toward securing affordable flights. Once you find a satisfactory deal, act promptly, as airfares change rapidly. Keep in mind that you usually have a 24-hour window to cancel if necessary.