Flying is one of the most convenient ways to travel, but finding affordable flights can be a challenge. Prices fluctuate frequently and it can be difficult to know when to book to ensure you’re getting the best deal. The good news is that there are many ways to find cheap flights, and with a little research and strategy, you can save big on your next trip.
The Best Travel Websites, Apps, and Tools
There are many websites and apps available that can help you find great deals on flights. Some of the most popular include:
- Skyscanner: a search engine that compares prices from multiple airlines and finds the cheapest flights available.
- Kayak: a site that helps you find flights, hotels, and rental cars, and lets you track pricing trends.
- Hopper: an app that predicts pricing changes and alerts you when flights go on sale.
- Google Flights: a search engine that allows you to filter by price, airline, and other factors.
To get the most out of these tools, be sure to:
- Use flexible date searches to find the cheapest travel dates.
- Set up price alerts to notify you when prices drop.
- Book directly through the airline whenever possible to avoid extra fees.
- Clear your browsing history and cookies before searching for flights to avoid the site using your search history to raise prices.
5 Tips to Save on Airfare
In addition to using travel websites and apps, there are other ways to save money on airfare. Here are some tips:
Use Frequent Flyer Programs
Many airlines offer frequent flyer programs that allow you to earn miles for every flight you take. These miles can then be redeemed for future flights or even hotel stays. Be sure to sign up for these programs and use them whenever possible to earn rewards.
Search for Error Fares
Sometimes airlines make mistakes and prices flights at significantly lower rates than usual. Keep an eye out for these error fares by signing up for newsletters from travel sites and airlines, and checking social media for deals.
Be Flexible with Travel Dates
Being flexible with your travel dates can save you a lot of money. Flying mid-week or on weekends can be much cheaper than traveling during peak times such as holidays.
Understand the Impact of Connecting Flights
While direct flights may be more convenient, they also tend to be more expensive. Booking a connecting flight can save you money, but be sure to give yourself enough time to make your connection.
Avoid Peak Travel Times
The busiest travel times of the year tend to be more expensive. Avoid flying during major holidays and events like Christmas, New Year’s, and popular sports games to save money.
The Science of Booking Flights
There are several factors that determine flight prices, including:
Supply and Demand
When demand is high and supply is low, prices tend to go up. This is why it’s important to book your flight as early as possible to secure the best price.
Time of Year
Traveling during peak seasons such as summer and holidays tend to be more expensive. If you can travel during off-peak times, you’ll likely get a better deal.
Airline Pricing Strategies
Airlines use complex algorithms to determine pricing based on factors like competition, seasonality, and customer demand. It’s important to shop around and compare prices to ensure you’re getting a good deal.
How to Score Cheap Last-Minute Flights
While it’s generally best to book your flights in advance, there are ways to find last-minute deals. Here are some strategies to try:
Use Airline Newsletters and Apps
Many airlines send out newsletters or have apps that offer exclusive deals to subscribers. Sign up for these to stay informed about the latest promotions.
Book Connecting Flights
Connecting flights can be cheaper than direct flights, especially when booking last minute. Keep in mind that you’ll need to factor in additional travel time for layovers.
Be Open to Alternative Airports
Smaller airports may be overlooked by larger airlines but could offer cheaper flights. Be open to flying into alternative airports and consider renting a car or taking a train to your final destination.
The Best Times to Book Flights
To get the best deals on flights, timing is everything. Here’s when you should book:
Book in Advance
The earlier you book, the better. Aim to book your flights at least two to three months in advance for domestic travel and four to six months in advance for international travel.
Shop on Tuesdays or Wednesdays
According to travel experts, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days of the week to book flights as prices are typically lower.
Travel During Off-Peak Seasons
If possible, avoid traveling during peak seasons such as summer and holidays when prices tend to be higher. Instead, consider traveling during off-peak times when prices are typically lower.
Travel Hacking 101
Travel hacking is the practice of using reward points, miles, and credit card bonuses to travel for free or at a fraction of the cost. Here are some tips to get started:
Sign up for Rewards Programs
Many airlines, hotels, and credit cards offer rewards programs that allow you to earn points or miles for every dollar spent. Be sure to sign up for these programs and use them whenever possible to earn rewards.
Use a Travel Credit Card
Travel credit cards offer sign-up bonuses and rewards points that can be redeemed for travel expenses such as flights, hotels, and rental cars.
Be Strategic with Your Spending
As you accumulate points and miles, be strategic about when and how you use them. For example, it may be more cost-effective to pay for a flight with rewards points during peak season when prices are high.
Finding cheap flights may require a bit of effort, but the payoff is worth it. By using the tips, tools, and strategies outlined in this article, you can save money on your next trip and travel more frequently. Remember, timing is key, so be sure to book in advance, travel during off-peak seasons, and consider alternative airports.