Flights are generally the most expensive part of a dream vacation, but there are many ways to lower the cost of airfare. We have assembled five tips to score cheaper flights!
There are three degrees of freedom you have when picking a flight: (1) Location (2) Airline (3) Date
Leaving flexibility in any of these three areas will allow you to get the cheapest deals. To get the cheapest fares we suggest you don’t lock in a destination, date or airline before searching instead searching for sales and when you find a deal too good to pass up pop up snatch it! You can figure out your plans after booking, but staying completely flexible allows you to get the very best deals.
2.Use Error Fare / Discount Fare Finder
Our favorite site to use is Secret Flying. This site posts error deals/extreme discounts as they pop up. If you are making a cross-Atlantic trip you may find deals from nearby American cities which are just cheaper (even when you factor in the cost/hassle to get to the starting point). For example we found a great flight to Europe for $450 round trip during the summer – but it was leaving from Washington D.C. not our hometown of Atlanta. We found a sale for $150 for a flight to D.C. which still meant we had an awesome deal to get to Europe.
3.Use Your Tools
There are several search engines that you need to know about to find the best fares.
This is one of the most flexible tools available. You can lock in your city of departure and use the map to find the best fares for your dates of travel -they also allow for flexibility when it comes to picking dates and will offer suggestions for cheaper flights if your dates are flexible.
Kayak.com offers much of the same flexibility as Google Flight – but they do offer two useful extras. First they have “hacker fares” which combine flights on multiple airlines (booking separate connections or one way tickets instead of a round trip) which can end up being cheaper than a round trip on a single airline. They make booking these hassle free. They also offer predictions on whether they think you should buy or wait for a better deal – which can come in handy if you are not sure if a sale is worth getting.
Skiplagged allows you to search for discount flights which stop in your destination city – they only catch is these stops are as connections for other flights – you just don’t use the remainder of your ticket. Based on demand, airlines may price a flight which continues on to a different destination cheaper than a direct flight to your destination – this tool allows you to find those discrepancies. You cannot check in a bag if you use these since the bags will continue on to the ultimate destination of the flight, but if you can pack a carry on you can find some real steals.
When looking for flights in Europe especially, Skyscanner is very useful. The site allows you to pick a date and a starting city and will show flights listed in order of cheapness, by country and city. So if you are looking to travel to a specific country but the order of the cities doesn’t matter this allows you to see all cities in the country and the flight costs in an easy to read format.
4. Use Discount Airlines
Often times discount airlines will have extra fees or will fly to non central airports; but despite those factors can still be great deals. When looking at discount airlines be sure to pay attention to extra fees or conditions so you are aware and can plan around them. You may also have to look on their individual websites for price information as they are not always included in the aggregator tools mentioned above. If you are lucky you can find fares for as low as 1 Euro, but you will have to pay attention for sales. In Europe discount airlines have made it VERY easy to go between cities, and can often be cheaper and quicker than booking a rail ticket.
5. Book Open Jaw Trips
Often flights are cheaper leaving from a different city from the one you arrived in. The tools identified earlier will help making searching for multi-city flights easier. These type of flights are especially useful if you are planning on visiting multiple cities on your trip, you will save yourself an extra flight/train ride/drive if you don’t have to return back to your first city.
Have any other tips to find cheap airfare? Leave a comment below!