There’s a lot of advice out there about how to find cheap flights, and it’s usually aimed at people who fly frequently. But if you only fly once or twice a year, the ‘best’ method might not be the best option for you.
If you don’t fly often, it can be hard to pick up on the details of what makes a flight more expensive. Sure, we all know that flying on a Friday instead of a Tuesday can make your ticket twice as much, but what about things like fare codes and booking sites? How do you know where to look and when?
I want to share with you a little secret about flight bookings that will save you literally hundreds of dollars every time you travel. Here’s how to find the cheapest flights:
Be flexible and open-minded about your destination
First things first: I don’t care how much you love Bali, if there are no cheap flights from your city to Bali, then visiting this island is going to cost you a fortune!
I’m writing this post to help answer the question “how do I find the cheapest flights?” I’ve answered it in person countless times, but never written out a process so that anyone can follow it.
What is the best way to find cheap flights? There are so many different answers, and we’re going to share them with you.
First of all, keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the cheapest flights. You have to choose what works for you and your needs. Then you need to know the tricks that will help you get the best deals and how to travel cheaply from one place to another.
Here are some of our favorite tips:
I’m going to start this post by stating the obvious: choosing a flight route is usually a trade-off between price and time. However, I also know that it’s possible to find cheap flights that are fast, as well as cheap flights that take longer routes but cost less.
In this blog post, I’ll share with you my best tips for finding cheap flights. You can read the detailed instructions below or watch the step-by-step video guide on how to find the cheapest flights in the shortest time possible.
The first thing you need to do is visit Google Flights. It’s my favorite flight search engine because they make it super easy to compare prices, select flexible dates and even track prices using their Price Tracking feature.
This is what Google Flights looks like when you first arrive at their site:”
There are two kinds of airline fares: the lowest and everything else. The airlines have not always been good at keeping these two kinds of fares separate, which has led to a lot of confusion.
The easiest kind of ticket to buy is a fully flexible one. If you want to fly in first class, or change your travel dates, or search on a variety of airlines and routes, then you probably want a fully flexible ticket. You can get such tickets from most travel agents and all airlines, but they are the most expensive way to fly.
The cheapest kind of ticket is an advance purchase excursion fare, commonly called a restricted ticket. These tickets usually require you to stay over Saturday night, and often require you to pay for the whole trip at once. But they can be very cheap. They are especially good for international flights.
In between there are semi-flexible tickets: refundable if you cancel within 24 hours of booking, or with limited changes allowed for a fee after that. These are somewhat more expensive than restricted tickets, but still less expensive than fully flexible ones.
I’m flying back to the US from Europe and have been looking into flights. Is there a best day to buy domestic flights?
On the one hand, it’s a bit sad that there are so many resources dedicated to this question (see above). On the other hand, like most people who fly frequently, I hope it does save me some money to know about it.
The data on this is surprisingly sparse and contradictory. Some people say you should buy early; some late. Some say weekends are better; some weekdays. No one seems to agree on what time of day is good.
I’m not sure how much this matters compared with which airline you choose, but it can’t hurt to know.
I’ve written before about the best day to buy airline tickets. But airline ticket pricing is a black box. A few people have studied it, but for the most part we’re left in the dark about how airlines set prices.
There are two things we do know:
Airlines price discriminate. That means they charge different people different prices based on their willingness to pay. They use a variety of signals to figure out how much you can afford to pay, from your frequent flyer status to your past purchases to whether you usually buy refundable or nonrefundable tickets. Since they don’t ask for proof that you can afford it, all you need is enough money in the bank and a credit card with a high enough limit.
But since the airlines use so many different signals, no one signal can make you immune from price discrimination. Airlines are not charities: they will sell seats at whatever price they can get away with (within reason). So if you are willing to pay more than someone else, they will try to sell the seat to you, even if it’s just a bit more expensive than what someone else would pay. If everyone was willing to pay $5 more, the airlines would raise prices by $5 and everyone would be happier.