How to Find Cheap Flights: 10 Money-Saving Tips
The wide availability of commercial flight has, in no uncertain terms, absolutely changed the world. An argument could be made that no other invention, at least up until the advent of the internet, has had a larger role in connecting and unifying the world than the ability to fly to a destination. Before the flight, every journey that a person embarked upon was an experience in and of itself. Whether that be a long caravan or a voyage at sea, the act of traveling is a deeply involved decision that required plenty of planning and preparation, and a journey anywhere significant meant many months, at least, apart from your family, friends, and job. Nowadays, if you mention going to Thailand for a week, the way that you’re going to get there isn’t even a part of the conversation. It’s assumed that you will fly there and you will fly back. Before that was an option, the idea of vacationing somewhere far off for no reason was far-fetched; now, it’s commonplace. But there is a trade-off for this massive convenience of the modern era; flying might take nearly all of the hassle and burden out of traveling, but instead, it’s an expensive mode of transportation. When calculating a budget for a trip, a significant portion, perhaps a majority, of the entire budget has to go to the plane tickets there and back. How much easier would it be to take advantage of this international inter-connectivity if plane flights could only be more affordable. Fortunately for you, there are techniques that you can use to find cheaper flights and make your dream of traveling more attainable.
The internet today is all based on marketing through the web. A huge part of that, something that most consumers are unaware of, is a thing called retargeting. Essentially, that’s using information gathered from a user’s searches and interactions with a company or product to the market back at that person in an effective way. Here’s what that means for buying flight tickets online; if you go back to an airplane ticket website a few times, and the site notices that you’re there looking at a particular ticket, the site might assume (automatically, there is no human input here) that you are considering buying a particular ticket. It can show that ticket as increasing in price, in order to make you think there is more demand for the ticket, hoping you will buy it before it raises any higher. If you make sure to never let a website know you’re there by browsing in incognito mode, you can ensure the prices you are looking at are honest numbers.
Use a Variety of Budget Sites
There exist a number of different websites that you can find to help you find the cheapest flights out there. A big thing to keep in mind is that these sites will not have unified databases. You can’t go on a single site, see the cheapest flight available, and assume that’s the best you can get. You need to go to a number of different sites, comparing and keeping track of the prices, so that you can make sure you know you’re getting the best deal possible.
Find Out When it’s Cheapest to Fly
Some sources of wisdom out there will say that there is a particular day that is the best to fly. They might say that flying in the middle of the week is cheaper than flying near the weekends, or that the ends of the month are the best time to get tickets for. Truth is, there is no universal “best day” to fly out or return. The flight prices, day by day, will always vary by the place you are leaving from, going to, and what time of year it is. Instead of just picking a single type of day and aiming at that, simply look around. Pick a block of a few days around when you would want to fly, and examine the prices for each day. The only way to find which day will be cheapest is to just check.
Read the Fine Print
Some airlines will advertise extremely cheap prices, only to hit you with massive fees for incidental things, making the whole endeavor pointless. It’s like when you see something on sale for insanely cheap, but then you see the shipping price is ten times the cost of the item. They aren’t actually offering the amazing deal that they appear, they are just making it appear like they are. Don’t let yourself get tricked by such tactics; always read every bit of text on any cheap ticket. Remember the old maxim, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Connect on Your Own
Some flights, especially cheaper ones, will have you stop in one city, and then fly from that city to your destination, in what is commonly called a connector. You don’t have to just go with the airline suggested connector, though. A connector can be whatever you want it to be, and if you look at all the possible connectors, chances are, you’ll be able to find a cheaper way to get to your destination than the one the website pops up for you. Do it this way: you know the city you are leaving, and the city you want to land. Look at all the cities that have flights landing from the starting city and departing to the destination city in one day. Any combination of those flights, putting you in any middle city, could be your connector. Do the math to find out which is the cheapest option.
Hidden City Connectors
This is somewhat the opposite of the previous example, and a bit more devious. Occasionally, if you need to get to a city, there will be a flight using that city as a connector that is cheaper than the one going right to that city. If it sounds illogical, it’s because it is; however because there is no real organization between airplane companies, it’s still a thing that happens. Be vigilant for these so-called “hidden city connectors”.
Look for the Errors
Sometimes, a ticket price will be posted for ridiculously low prices. The reason for this could be a number of things; maybe it’s a sale, or maybe it’s a ticket that needs to get filled. Quite often, it’s actually as simple as human error, where a person has entered the wrong price. No matter what the reason, though, airlines must honor any ticket price that’s listed online. There are websites that compile these cheaper tickets, and make you aware of the cheapest available at any particular time. Just search for “error plane tickets” in a search engine.
Check Out Local Airports
There are a lot more airports around than anyone really would imagine. For every big hub of transportation, there are dozens of tiny airfields out in the suburbs or in rural areas. The thing about these airports is, because they are so small, often times their tickets won’t be listed on the major air ticket websites. Find out what small airports are closest to you and contact them to see if they might have a flight going where you need to be.
Don’t Wait Too Long
Because demand for tickets goes up as you approach the date that a plane will be taking off, waiting too long before acquiring those tickets is a surefire way to make sure that you end up overpaying. You want to buy the tickets well in advance of the date of departure, at least three months before. You can buy them even before that, but if you do it too far in advance, you run the risk of losing out if those tickets go on sale in between the date you booked and the three month threshold.
Maintain Flight Points
Especially if you often travel and like to go places, maintaining flight points or air miles with an airline is a great way to get more bang for your buck. The major thing to keep in mind when it comes to flight points is that they are a brand loyalty feature, and they are designed to function that way. The more loyal you are to a particular airline, the more points you get with that airline. That means that any flight you take which is not with that airline, even if it was a cheaper deal in the short run, does mean you are missing out on maxing out your flight points with your primary airline.
There’s one more way you can get cheaper tickets, but it’s not so much a tip as it is a way of life. If you don’t care about where you are going, you can just go online and see where the cheapest tickets available go to, and head there. It’s a risky and potentially dangerous way to travel, but it certainly is one way to see a part of the world you never would have on the cheap. If you’re like most people and have somewhere in mind that you’d like to fly cheaply to, then stick to the rest of the tips on this list, and bon voyage.
- Thrifty Nomads – How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible Anywhere
- Flight Scanner – Revealed: Flight Booking Hacks That Can Save You Cash
- Forbes – 10 Tips for Booking Cheaper Flights