Traveling domestically and internationally is always exciting…but can be quite expensive. Even if you’re not on a budget, finding the best possible deal on flights will only increase how much you can spend on your actual trip and let’s face it – who doesn’t love a deal?
While some may be fortunate enough to not have to worry about the cost of travel, it can be a bit stressful for most. Airline tickets can alternate between being generally affordable, to incredibly expensive depending on the time of year, destination and demand.
If you’ve found yourself here, you’re probably looking to travel and save where you can to keep some cash in your pocket. Luckily, no matter what time of the year you’re flying, there are deals available on most flights, but you have to know where to look. Here’s everything you need to know:
What to think about when searching for a cheap flight
Aside from using the best apps and websites to find the best deals on flights, there are a few other things you can do to score cheap flights or scoop up special promotions or discounts. You’ll want to think about these 5 things before flight shopping:
1. Consider your bags and packing arrangements
While this depends on where you’re headed and for how long, bigger bags means more money. Sometimes, bringing heaps of luggage on a flight is completely unavoidable. However, for shorter trips, wearing any bulky clothing (like a jacket and running shoes) on your flight, and packing a carry-on bag with your other essentials is the best bet.
Even though checking your bags varies by airline, most cost a significant amount of money. If you don’t absolutely require a suitcase, stick to a small carry-on bag with lots of pouches, pockets and sleeves.
2. Join airline mailing lists/follow on social media
One of the best ways to get a deal on flights is by signing up for newsletters so you’re notified of sales and discounts.
If email newsletters aren’t your thing, you may want to consider following the airlines you’re interested in flying with on social media, like Twitter or Instagram. Airlines are constantly posting deals and this is a great tactic if you don’t have a specific destination in mind and instead just want to scoop up a good flight.
3. Be flexible with your departure and arrival dates
In general, being a bit flexible with your travel dates is key to being able to score the best deals. Some airlines offer more flights on certain days of the week, while others may reduce costs on last-minute flights, off-peak dates, or either very early or late travel times.
4. Consider flying out of (or to) an alternate, nearby airport
Although it can depend on where you’re flying to and from, consider checking out a smaller airport if there’s one nearby.
For example, if you’re looking for a flight out of New York City, and you’re not able to find a deal on flights from one of New York’s two major airports, consider searching for alternate airports like Newark, which is just across the river in New Jersey and still easy to access from the city.
5. Choose to travel on off-peak days and times
There are days of the week, and weeks of the year, that are in demand for travel, and more expensive as a result.
Your flight from one city to another may cost a few hundred dollars more on a Friday afternoon, compared to the option to fly out early on a Tuesday morning. Additionally, traveling to a family resort during spring break will likely be pricer than traveling during a less-busy, off-peak time of year when that type of resort isn’t as in demand. When searching for flights, try to look at the entire month instead of a specific date so you can analyze which days are the cheapest.
Where to find the best deals on flights
Here are a few great sites/apps that can help you compare flight prices, organize connections and see how your cost can vary depending on which days you travel. Don’t forget to sign up for their newsletters so you can always be sure you get the best deals on flights.
- Google Flights searches multiple sites at once, so you can compare airlines, prices, and more all in one place; it does the hard work and research for you.
- You can also use the calendar feature of Google Flights to check which dates are cheapest for flights between two or three cities.
- Google Flights makes it easy for you to see what destinations and airlines cost throughout the year (if you type in different dates) so it can help in the planning stages of your trip as well.
- If you find a flight you like, you’ll select it and be redirected to the appropriate airline or travel agency. in some cases, you can book while staying on Google Flights and Google will safely transfer your information to the appropriate website.
- Skyscanner is a reliable travel site that pulls a variety of prices from various sources for flights, hotels, and even car rental.
- Skyscanner is great to use to compare prices on different dates and destinations.
- Whether you’re booking an impromptu trip or planning well ahead of time, this is a great search engine to utilize.
- You can book your flight on Skyscanner, however, the third party (travel agency or airline) is still the one receiving your payment. Skyscanner gets a cut from the travel agency.
- Edreams sources flight and hotel information for over 40,000 destinations around the globe.
- Edreams is a fast search engine where you can select (or deselect) options for packages or add-ons to your flight.
- This is a great option for those looking for a flight as well as any packages for a last-minute getaway; Edreams can help organize all your trip details within minutes.
- Edreams pre-buy seats from airlines and thus offer some of the best deals on flights you can find. Since they are an online travel agency you book your flight and packages directly through their website.
- Kayak pulls flight and airline information within seconds from a variety of sources.
- You can easily compare airline prices, as well as travel dates through Kayak.
- Kayak is great for basic airline research and flight information.
- You can book your flight through Kayak; they process the payment on behalf of the airline or agency similar to Edreams.
- Flight Hub looks to prioritize ‘less headaches’ for travelers by simplifying the process for them and sourcing all the flights available on a specific date from a variety of
airlines all around the globe within seconds.
- If you’re looking to plan a trip far in advance or last minute, Flight Hub will pull reliable information for you to make your planning an organized and seamless process.
- Flight Hub is a third-party agency (much like others mentioned above) so you can book directly through them, and they process your transaction and tickets through the airline.
- Cheapoair has a great selection of flights and is a good spot to scan for the best deals on flights.
- This is a good website to use if you’re going to be modifying or making small changes to your booking as they have quick support.
- Cheapoair is a third-party booking agency so you’ll book directly through them and then they’ll confirm the booking via the airline.
Flight Hub is a third-party agency (much like others mentioned above) so you can book directly through them, and they process your transaction and tickets through the airline.
- If you’re looking to get notified when deals pop up and prices drop, Hopper is a great option as you can download the app (to receive notifications on deals) and get notifications on sales or for specific routes.
- Hopper also has flash sales and vouchers available for first-time users.
- When you use Hopper, you aren’t booking directly with the airline; much like Flight Hub and Kayak, Hopper is a travel and booking agency and website that simplifies the process for travelers and finds the best deals on flights.
When and why to book through a 3rd-party booking agency
The best way to find the best deals on flights is by shopping around through a booking agency as they’ll have all the flights going out of a specific place on the particular day, week or month you’re looking at. We always recommend shopping for the best flights in this order:
- Navigate to the booking website of your choice
- Put in your travel dates
- If a flight shows up that’s through an airline – check the airlines’s main website to compare prices.
- If the price is the same – book through the airline (you’re then cutting out the middle man).
- If the price is cheaper on the booking website – then go ahead and book through them (booking websites often buy a bunch of seats beforehand and thus can offer better rates or have a pre-existing relationship with the airline to offer the rates they’re showing).
When booking through a 3rd-party booking agency just make sure their customer support is good in case you run into any problems along the way.
Whether you’re looking to book a spontaneous solo trip for later this week, or you’re planning a family vacation for next year, you now know what to consider when planning, how to score the best deals on flights, and where to look to find the best options.
Always remember that with a bit of patience and flexibility (wherever possible), you can often reduce the cost of travel and save yourself some money to spend on your vacation! Utilizing sites like Google Flights and Skyscanner, or any others mentioned, is a great way to ensure you’re getting the best deal on flights.
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