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How to find the cheapest flights

The hardest thing to justify, when it comes to travel, is the cost of the flight. It’s almost always the most expensive part of travel and the biggest roadblock to you visiting your top bucket list destinations. There’s no secret website that gives you 99% off any flight you want, but there is a combination of things that you can do to ensure that you’re finding the best deal currently available. We’ve learned so much and want to share all our tips and tricks for finding cheap flights to anywhere right here. There’s no better time to be booking flights, fuel prices have been relatively low for a few years and airlines are desperate to attract passengers due to the pandemic.

Knowing When It Is the Cheapest Month to Book a Flight

There’s not one individual month that is the cheapest to actually purchase a flight, but there are two things to consider to always get a better price. 1. How far in advance are you booking the flight? 2. What season is your trip happening? Let’s start with how far out you should be booking. If I go search for a flight for next year at this same time, right now, all I’m going to see is the highest possible prices because the airlines assumes that they have plenty of time to fill all of their seats. The same goes for the opposite! If I look for a flight that leaves in 3 hours, they’re going to assume that I don’t have any flexibility and the price will be a high one.

So what’s the sweet spot? Well, Skyscanner compiled the data on their flight search engine and found that to find the cheapest domestic flights you should book three weeks in advance for domestic flights and two weeks in advance for international flights. In terms of which actual month is the best to purchase your flight, you should be buying flights in September for domestic and August for international flights. This is based on historical data and averages, but it is always subject to change as travel culture changes!

Knowing When It Is the Cheapest Day to Book a Flight

Domestically, you want to book you flights on Saturdays, Tuesdays, or Sundays, in that order. Internationally it is best to book your flights on Saturday, Sunday, or even Friday. I’ve seen this data change over the years as the best days to book used to be Wednesdays and Tuesdays, and the worst used to be on the weekends. We’ll do our best to keep you updated here on our website. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter so you don’t miss any future updates!

Which Season or Month Should You Be Traveling in to Get the Cheapest Flights?

Now with the same data that Skyscanner compiled, they found that the cheapest months domestically are January, September, and October and internationally the cheapest month is March. Anecdotally, we prefer traveling during the shoulder seasons, meaning late spring and early fall or their summer counterparts. It is a time of year where you get some of the benefits of summer weather without as many tourists, and the lack of other travelers leads to cheaper flights, hotel rooms, activities, etc.

Keep in mind that these are all averages and definitely vary per destination, but if you don’t want to do all the due diligence and nitty gritty research on each potential trip, these averages are a good place to start! In the flight search engines section I’ll show you how to ensure you’re getting the cheapest flight for the destination you’ve chosen.

Cheaper Destinations

Are some destinations cheaper than others? Absolutely! You will never find a flight to the Maldives cheaper than what you can find to Amsterdam. After years and years of searching for cheap flights, you get a pretty good idea for the price range each destination holds, but here are some tricks to be able to estimate the price of a destination at a glance. Generally, the cities that are most expensive in terms of cost of living are the most affordable airports to fly in and out of. This is simply because of volume. The more remote an airport is, the more it costs the airline to fly in and out of there.

Distance is going to be another factor, but once you pass four hours of flight or so, it isn’t as serious of a factor anymore. For example, when picking a destination that is within two hours, you can almost find flights for between $100 and $400, but when you pass four hours or so, prices don’t usually drop below $300 or $400.

Which Budget Airlines Are Available for Your Destination

Apart from popularity and distance, the airlines that fly the routes you’re looking for will have arguably an even great impact on the price of the flight. To get the cheapest flights, you need know which airlines to look at. In the western United States you can fly Frontier or Allegiant and in the East you can fly Spirit. In Europe, there is RyanAir and Norwegian and in Eastern and Southeastern Asia you can fly China Southern or China Eastern. You can also grab a basic economy seat on a standard airline like Delta, but you want to be aware that essentially turns your experience into a budget airline experience.

No matter who you book with, you must always pay attention to what is included in the price of the flight. Most budget airlines won’t include food or drinks, checked baggage, carry-on luggage bigger than a briefcase or purse, seat selection, etc. and will have limited legroom, poor change and refund policies, and not the best customer service as a result. With that said, we fly budget airlines all the time because sometimes it is just worth it to sacrifice some comfort to save hundreds of dollars! Any of the below flight search engines will show you which budget airlines are available for your destination and will help you save money.

How To Get the Best Flight Deals

The name of the game is flexibility. If the only days of the year that you can travel are on Christmas Eve and New Years Day then you’re not going to have much luck finding cheap flights. On that same note, if there is only one destination you’re dying to go to, flights to that destination might not vary much in price throughout the year, or if they do get cheaper at some point, that may not be at the time that you’re available. So if you want the best flight deals, then be flexible with when you fly and where you fly to.

Do you have any flight tips? We’d love to hear them. Comment below!

How to find the cheapest flights

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Have you ever experienced this scenario? You’re talking to a friend or colleague about the flights you’ve just booked to some exotic destination for your next vacation, only for them to turn around and tell you that they’ve booked flights to the same destination for hundreds of dollars less! It can be infuriating; just think of all the things you could spend that money on when you arrive at your destination.

This doesn’t have to happen to you ever again! With the tips below you can ensure that you always get the cheapest flights in any circumstance.

1. The early bird saves money.

It’s not really a secret but, as with most things, the earlier you book, the more you can save. The magic number is 60. Prices rise on average about 60 days before the departure date. But don’t book too early. FareCompare research shows that airlines don’t release their cheap seats until about four months out.

2. Being flexible pays off.

If you’re not picky about the exact date that you fly, you could slash a huge amount off your fare. Mid-week flights are less popular than weekends, and Wednesday is historically the cheapest day to fly. Catching the red-eye will also save you a packet. Consider traveling to destinations in their off-peak seasons; his is will vary by location, but a quick Google search usually reveals the answer. Not only will everything be cheaper, but you will get to experience a different side to your destination that most people never see.

3. Size matters.

The nearest airport to you may not be the best one to fly from if you’re looking to save some extra spending money. Bigger and busier airports often have cheaper flights, as there is more competition between airlines and a higher frequency of flights. Compare the price of taking a cheap domestic flight to a bigger airport versus flying straight from your local airport. In my case I was able to fly to another domestic airport for $59, and the international leg was over $200 cheaper from there!

Try using a website like Adioso to compare the price of flying into different airports near your destination. As you can see below, it was $400 cheaper for me to fly into LA instead of San Francisco–something that can make a huge difference to your hip pocket (plus maybe you could fly to LA and then take an awesome road trip to San Francisco in a rental car).

How to find the cheapest flights

4. Short trip? Save even more.

Most of the budget airlines charge a low base rate, and then charge for add-ons like checked luggage. If you don’t need to take much with you, you could save quite a bit by only taking carry-on luggage (this is usually included in the cost of all tickets).

5. Take advantage of historical price data.

Using some great historical pricing tools like Kayak’s Price Forecast, you can work out whether the ticket price for your flight is more likely to rise or fall. This tool will show you whether to book immediately or if you’re better off waiting.

How to find the cheapest flights

6. Compare the comparisons.

All comparison websites are not equal. Some have access to airlines and fares that others don’t, and booking fees can vary greatly between them. Just because two sites compare flights from the same airline doesn’t mean that the prices will be the same! From experience, there’s no one site that’s better than any other. The one that has the cheapest flight this time may not be next time, so it pays to compare at least two of them.

Some comparison sites to consider:

7. Go direct.

Just as some comparison sites get access to fares that others don’t, there are many special fares that the airlines save for their own customers. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by booking with the airline direct; signing up to their mailing lists is an easy way to be notified of specials as they come up. Be aware–the really cheap ones are usually limited and go quickly, so be prepared to book as soon as you see them!

8. Remove pre-selected items.

Websites often try to make a few extra dollars by pre-selecting certain items and hoping that you don’t notice. Seat selection, various insurances, “green” options are some of the usual culprits and can add $20 or more to your ticket if you don’t un-tick the boxes.

How to find the cheapest flights

9. Avoid booking fees.

Booking fees are fairly standard on most websites (even the ones that say no booking fees will often build them into the price) but you can sometimes avoid paying any booking fees depending on the payment method you use. Payment by direct deposit/bank transfer, PayPal or Poli are often cheaper or free.

10. Cheap flights can become expensive.

When looking at budget carriers, make sure you add in all the items you need before comparing the price. Flights that are a little more expensive but include things like baggage or meals may actually end up cheaper by the time you add them on to a budget flight. Also make sure you’re aware of how inflexible some cheap flights can be. If your plans change, or something comes up and you can’t make it, the change fee can often be as expensive as the actual tickets. If you’ve got good travel insurance, this may not be an issue.

11. Call in an expert.

FlightFox is a great service that will connect you with travel experts to help find the cheapest flights for your needs. They’ll do the hard work and then tell you how to book the flights, or they can arrange to do it for you. At just $49 it can quickly pay for itself many times over, especially for international or complicated trips (multi-stops, etc).

12. Use your points.

Perhaps an obvious one, but if you have frequent flyer points, you can use these towards your flight cost, or to upgrade to a better seat. Many airlines have partnerships with credit card providers where you can earn frequent flyer points for every dollar you spend. It’s a great way to earn points for things you would be buying anyway (groceries, gas, etc.) as long as you pay it off on time.

13. Get your money back.

Have you ever been bumped off a flight? Did you know that you may actually be eligible for some compensation from the airline? New website AirHelp can advise you of any potential compensation and help you apply for it. You may even be eligible for a refund if your ticket price drops after you purchase! Another website, Yapta, will track your flight details and let you know if it drops after you purchase.

There you have it! Want to save even MORE on your trip? Check out our tips on how to get the best hotel deals, and car rental hacks.

Do you have any other tips? Share them with our readers in the comments below!

Last Updated: July 2, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by Amy Tan. Amy Tan is a Travel Planner and the Founder of Planet Hoppers, a boutique travel design team founded in 2002. Planet Hoppers specializes in brainstorming and creating itineraries for dream vacations, honeymoons, exotic adventures, family reunions, and group trips. Planet Hoppers is a TRUE accredited travel agency and a member of the Signature Travel Network, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and Travel Leaders. Amy earned a BA in Communications and a BS in Physics from the University of California, Davis in 2000.

There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 35,432 times.

The past few years have seen an increase in the cost of travel, specifically the cost of airfare and fees associated with flying. In a rapidly changing market, it is sometimes difficult to shop for a reasonably priced flight without the fear of missing out on a ticket. Although it seems like airfare rates continue to rise, there are many ways to combat the high costs of flying. With a bit of time and smart shopping, getting a great deal on airfare is possible.

How to find the cheapest flights

Amy Tan
Travel Planner & Founder, Planet Hoppers Expert Interview. 12 March 2020.

  • One of the major benefits of OTAs is that the traveler is often exposed to more options than they knew they had, such as different flights, different routes, or different locations.
  • Perks include low rates on last minute tickets as well as packaged deals that include drastically reduced rates on hotel or car rentals. [2] X Research source It’s important to consider all of your needs and all of your savings options when considering using an OTA.
  • You should never pay more for a ticket on an OTA site than you would from the airline’s direct website. In fact, many airlines guarantee the lowest rate possible.
  • Popular OTA sites include makemytrip.com, Expedia.com, and Booking.com.

How to find the cheapest flights

How to find the cheapest flights

How to find the cheapest flights

Amy Tan
Travel Planner & Founder, Planet Hoppers Expert Interview. 12 March 2020.

  • This works well if your travel plans (date/time) are firm. Otherwise, you could get overwhelmed by all of the options presented.

Made sudden plans of taking a trip with your buddies? Maybe a work trip popped out of nowhere and you’re now looking for last-minute Business Class tickets? No matter what the reason behind making spontaneous travel plans, it is possible to get cheap last-minute flights if you know where to find the best last-minute flight deals. Here’s our guide to help you find extremely cheap last-minute flights and reach your destination without burning a hole in your pocket.

What is Last-Minute Travel?

Last-minute travel is when you make plans for a trip out-of-the-blue and your travel date falls within a couple of days. A general rule of thumb regarding last-minute airfare is that when your tour dates are within 14 days of your booking, you’ll have to be looking for last-minute flights.

Is There an Ideal Time for Booking Last-Minute Flight Tickets?

Though last-minute plane tickets can be booked anytime within 14 days of the scheduled date of departure, prices may vary for different destinations. For certain destinations, booking last-minute flights in the week of the departure may prove to be cheaper whereas for others, booking a week prior to your date of travelling may get you better last-minute flight ticket deals.

Do Airlines Really Offer Last-Minute Discount Flights?

Airlines do offer attractive discounts on last-minute flight tickets. This is because there are often several travelers who cancel their tickets a few days prior to their flight. Airlines make up for these vacancies by offering discounts on last-minute flight bookings.

At Fly.com, you can browse through last-minute fares of multiple airlines and get the best last-minute airfare deals.

How late is Too Late for Availing Last-Minute Airline Deals?

Different airlines have different rules related to booking last-minute flight tickets. However, in general, it is possible to avail last-minute deals up to 2 hours from the scheduled departure.

Tips and Tricks to Make the Most of Last-Minute Airfare Deals

Here are a few tips and tricks for bagging cheap last-minute flight tickets –

Travel via Red-Eye Flights

Red-eye flights i.e., flights that during the night hours are generally cheaper than their daytime counterparts. If you can handle sleep disruption for a night, you can score big on last-minute flight deals to anywhere.

Use Airlines Miles

Make use of your collected miles while buying last-minute flights to save big on your last-minute travel.

Get Notified

Another great way to find cheap last-minute flights is to sign up with Fly.com. This way, you will instantly get price alerts every time cheap last-minute flight tickets are available.

Be Flexible

Being flexible with your location and your travel dates can also help you find cheap last-minute plane tickets. Do search for last-minute international flight deals to multiple locations and compare airfares before you book cheap last-minute flights.

Choose a Low-Cost Carrier

Another way to find cheap last-minute airline tickets is to book a low-cost or budget airline, if you can make do with fewer amenities and less leg-room.

Additionally, being open to travelling in the middle of the week, and making your travel bookings during the off-season will all determine whether or not you can make the most of last-minute one-way and round-trip flight deals.

How Can I Book Cheap Last-Minute Airfare?

Since airlines offer last-minute flights to anywhere, there is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to the destination you wish to travel to.

Wondering how to make a last-minute flight booking? Look no further than Fly.com. All you need to do is enter your destination and travel dates and Fly will present you with a list of airlines offering last-minute fare deals. Compare your available options and go with the one that suits your needs.

If you have a spontaneous overseas trip in mind, use Fly’s low fare calendar to find cheap last-minute international flights. This tool shows you the best deals from the nearest airport and allows you to create a custom fare calendar for any route.

We searched for almost 400 fares on nine travel booking websites to find out which deliver the lowest prices. What we found surprised us—­and could save you a lot of money.

The easiest way to find and compare all of the flight and airfare options for a particular route is to use one of the many online travel agencies (which sell tickets) or fare aggregator sites (which direct you to an airline or other website to purchase the fare).

But do any of them offer lower prices than others?

To find out, we spent two weeks looking for the cheapest nonstop airfares on five busy domestic routes using nine popular sites—CheapOair, Expedia, Google Flights, Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity, and TripAdvisor.

We performed four sets of simultaneous searches on different days at different times, for a total of 372 queries. To check for merchants offering different prices to consumers based on their computer’s browser history, we had at least one tester use a browser with a robust history of searching flights (which would be typical of a comparison shopper) and another using a “scrubbed” browser, or one cleared of all of the “cookies,” or data files, that record previous web searches. (Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Counsumer Reports, has seen evidence of pricing based on search histories in previous investigations, not only with airlines and hotels but also with books and shoes.)

More on Air Travel

  • Secrets to Stress-Free Flying
  • 5 Ways to Make Your Connecting Flights
  • Combating Air Rage
  • 9 Ways to Save Money and Your Sanity When Flying

What We Found

The average prices overall ranged from $299 for Travelocity to $335 for CheapOair, which delivered the highest average fare and also failed to provide even a single lowest fare among the five routes in our test. We also discovered that airfares varied as much as $138 for the same route at the same time and as much as $238 over different days.

Among the 372 searches, we found 42 pairs of different prices on separate browsers for the same sites retrieved at the same time (in theory there should have been no differences). In fact, all nine sites provided different airfares on separate browsers at the same time at least once, although it occurred most frequently on Google Flights (12) and Kayak (8). Out of the 42 pairs that differed, 25 resulted in higher fares (by as much as $121) and 17 resulted in lower fares (up to $84 less) for the scrubbed browser.

“Cookies or no cookies, it is impossible for us to show different prices to different users,” a Kayak spokesman told us when we reported our findings. He suggested that a difference of even a few seconds on simultaneous searches may have affected our results.

We can’t say whether the fare differences we found are due to pricing based on browser histories. But we can say this: To increase your chances of finding the lowest airfares, search for flights multiple times and over multiple days, both with and without the cookies cleared from your browser (information on how to clear your browser of cookies can easily be found online).

Have you found a way to save on airfares?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Other Shopping Tips

Cover all the bases. Before booking a fare on an online travel agency such as Expedia or Orbitz, search google.com/­flights to see all of the carriers that serve the route you’re flying, then check the airlines’ own sites to see whether you can find an even lower fare. Although we didn’t examine any airline sites in this test, remember that they often provide advantages as well, such as offering frequent-flyer-program discounts, seat selection, and details on optional fees for meals, baggage, etc.

Be flexible. We found that airfares could vary considerably for flights just hours apart, and at crosstown airports. All of those sites offer filters to help you narrow or broaden such choices, though we found that Kayak’s were best. Use caution when employing the tools, though: We repeatedly found—after opting for specific departure times or choosing nonstop flights—that our preferences were ignored.

Use price alerts. Kayak’s, for instance, will email you weekly or even daily notices when the price falls—helpful when you’re shopping for fares well in advance.

Don’t stop shopping after you buy a ticket. By law you can cancel a booking without penalty for 24 hours after you pay for it, as long as you’re not traveling for at least a week. “Prices change all the time, so it’s a good idea to check a few sites during that 24 hours to see if you can find an even better deal,” says Carl de Marcken, a former MIT professor and fare expert.

The Rise of Regionals

Regional airlines—which often fly small aircraft that lack amenities—have grown considerably since 2000.

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We work with more than 300 partners to bring you better travel deals

Your privacy is important to us, so we’ll never spam you or share your info with third parties.
Take a look at our privacy policy. And, we’d be sad to see you go, but you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thank you for signing up.

We work with more than 300 partners to bring you better travel deals

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Take a look at our privacy policy. And, we’d be sad to see you go, but you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Find the best deals for cheap flights

Hello, there. Let us help you start your search for cheap airfare and travel deals. Whether it’s a romantic weekend getaway, family vacation, bucket-list trip to your dream destination, or a business trip with a side of fun, we have you covered. Affordable domestic and international flights are what we do best.

How does Cheapflights find flight deals?

We know how to travel on the cheap. We partner with a wide variety of airlines and travel providers to bring you the best options for cheap airline tickets, whatever your destination. Easily browse by travel date, or, if you’re flexible, we can help you find the cheapest time to travel.

Can I get hotel and car rental deals too?

As a top travel deals publisher, Cheapflights.com serves up plenty of flight deals from airports across the United States to destinations around the world not to mention special hotel offers, low-cost car rental options, vacation packages, travel tips and more.

Why put off that weekend getaway or dream vacation?

Our crew of travel experts and passionate explorers is here to help you see the world and simplify your travel experience. We have the insider information, travel inspiration and trip planning tips you can’t find anywhere else. We’ll even deliver our exclusive deals right to your inbox.

Want to travel during certain dates, but have no travel spot in mind yet? Our Everywhere Search feature will find you the cheapest prices to every destination in the world.

Find cheap flights to anywhere by entering your home airport below. When you click in the “To” box, you will see a message pop up which gives you the option to search Everywhere. If you’re super flexible, you can select the whole month to see the cheapest dates to travel. 👇

What is Skyscanner Everywhere Search?

Skyscanner Everywhere Search is a tool that provides travel inspiration when searching for the cheapest flights without a set destination in mind. It is for the adventurous, curious & flexible traveler, ready to find the cheapest flights to anywhere in the world.

How to search for cheap flights to anywhere with Skyscanner:

  • Enter the departure city you wish to fly from. Set the airport near you that has the largest range of available routes, both international and domestic.
  • In the destination box, marked “To” type in “everywhere”
  • Enter your search criteria: dates, number of passengers – the more flexible you can be in terms of dates of travel the more likely you are to find the cheapest round trip flights to anywhere. You do not need to include specific dates if you don’t know them or want to find the best dates to travel.

Travelers have named our search everywhere option as one of their favorite features. In just a few clicks you’ll be able to find cheap flights to anywhere in the world from your preferred airport.

What’s the best part about the search? We’ll show you all the lowest prices so you can find your own travel deal for cheap round trip flights to anywhere.

Here’s how to get started searching Everywhere on Skyscanner:

How to find the cheapest flights

Find Cheap Flights Anywhere with the Skyscanner App

Step 1

Open the Skyscanner app and click on the Flights search page. Enter the departure city of choice. You can choose to fly out of a specific airport, city or an entire country. Check add nearby airports if you want to see more options.

Step 2

Just type “everywhere” in the “To” box, like in the picture above. This will allow you to search for cheap flights anywhere that are available.

Step 3

Enter your search criteria: dates, number of passengers, class, etc. If you’re fully flexible, choose “whole month” and “cheapest month” for the calendar dates since it’ll show you the best prices available in the near future. If your dates are fixed, then select them now.

Step 4

Click on search. You will then see a range of options for cheapest flights to anywhere. Delve into destinations you are interested in and you will be able to see specific deals available. Skyscanner will show the best destinations around the world in order of cost.

Find Cheap Flights Anywhere on the Skyscanner website

It’s simple and quick to find the cheapest flights to anywhere on the Skyscanner website. The steps are almost identical to the search on the Skyscanner app and you will see the same comprehensive results showing all the best deals to find cheap flights anywhere. You can then decide if a destination matches your holiday expectations and budget. Search today to see what amazing vacation deals are out there!

Step 1

Go the the Skyscanner website in your internet browser. You will see the search bar at the top of the homepage. Enter the departure point you wish to fly from. You can choose to fly out of a specific airport, city or an entire country. Airports that have a wide range of routes will offer the best potential to find cheap flights to anywhere.

Step 2

Type “everywhere” in the “To” box, like in the picture above. This will allow you to search for cheap flights anywhere from the selected destination.

Step 3

Enter your search criteria: dates and number of passengers. If you’re fully flexible, choose “whole month” and “cheapest month” for the calendar dates since it’ll show you the best prices available in the near future. If your dates are fixed, then select them now. The more flexible you can be on dates, the more likely you are to find a deal.

Step 4

Click on search to find your results. You will then see a range of options for cheapest flights to anywhere. Delve into destinations you are interested in and you will be able to see specific deals available. Skyscanner will show the best destinations around the world in order of cost.

When you have your set of results on the Skyscanner website after using the Search Everywhere function, you can explore destinations that are of interest.

If you click on the results that match your price range and could be a good fit for your vacation plans, click on the arrow and the section will expand to reveal more information on the cheap flights anywhere deals.

Compare different destinations to find the right flight deal for you. If you have flexible dates then try other searches to reveal the cheapest flights to anywhere. If you have the spirit of an explorer and value a bargain, this search tool will let you plan your vacation the right way.

Modified date: November 11, 2020

Cheap airline tickets can be hard to find, but not impossible! Anytime you start looking for cheap flights, it can seem overwhelming. The sheer number of flight options is enough to make even a seasoned traveler feel unsure.

It is completely possible to save hundreds on airline tickets if you know when and where to look. If you aren’t sure where to start, then keep reading for the best tips on how to find a cheap flight.

Know when to get the cheapest tickets

When you can find the best airline ticket prices will vary widely based on the peak season of your destination and your date of purchase. Let’s take a closer look at both.

Off-season

Before you start to look for a flight, determine the best time to find a good deal. Typically, the best flight deals are found in the off-season. Top tourist season varies around the world, so do some research into your specific destination.

The off-season usually has less desirable weather but the sights are still the same. If you would prefer to avoid the off-season but still want to find a cheap flight, then consider the shoulder season as an option.

Shoulder season

The top tourist season in the U.K. is in July and August. The flights will likely be most expensive during that time. In the shoulder season of May, June, and September, flights will be more affordable.

And finally, the off-season of October through April will likely have the cheapest flight options. Depending on your destination, the off-peak times can still provide an enjoyable experience.

21-121 days before your departure date

Once you have decided on when you will be taking your trip, it is time to start looking for flights. According to a Cheap Air study, the best time to book a flight is between four months and three weeks (or 121 to 21 days) of your departure date for domestic flights. The optimal booking window may change slightly based on your destination, but somewhere in this range is a good place to start.

The middle of the week

As you look at flights, attempt to time your purchase for the middle of the week. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are better days to find deals according to Hopper.

Know where to book the cheapest flight

Now that you know the optimal time to book your flight, it is time to start looking. Instead of checking the fares of individual airlines, try using a search engine. This method will give you a more complete view of the available flights and prices.

Comparison sites

A few good places to look include Google Flights , SkyScanner , and Kayak . There are several other options, but I have always had the best luck through a combination of these three.

If you have the time, then you should check out the prices on a regular basis. If you do not feel that you have time to check out prices regularly, then consider setting up a price drop watch. When the price drops dramatically, you’ll get an email.

Directly through the airline

When I find a good fare through a search engine, I typically go directly to the airline site. Usually, the airline has a similar price so you can consider buying directly through their site. Even if it is slightly more expensive, you may have more options to cancel or adjust the flight in several ways after the purchase.

Use a VPN to get cheaper flights

A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. It allows you to access the web safely and privately by routing your connection through a server and hiding your online actions.

How does this help you find cheaper plane tickets?

Well, if you’ve ever shopped for airline tickets, you’ve probably noticed that one day you can search for flights, and the next day they’ve gone up significantly in price. That’s because airline sites can tell where you’re browsing from (I know, creepy), and where you live can actually determine the price you pay for a ticket.

A VPN confuses the location profiling system airlines use, because it’s constantly rerouting your computer’s IP address. That means you can get the same cheap ticket price that someone across the country is getting.

If you’re looking for a reliable and cost-effective VPN service, check out this comprehensive list of the top, cheap VPNs on the market today.

Find the cheapest travel destination

One great way to find a cheap ticket is to travel to a less expensive destination. The cheapest places to travel vary by the season. If you have a particular place in mind, then remember to look into the off-season and the shoulder season.

Also, flights from large international airports are typically much less expensive than flights from regional airports. If you live relatively close to a major airport, consider driving there instead of going to your regional airport.

Domestic flights are typically more affordable than international flights. If you do want to travel internationally, know that there are usually more affordable fares to South American than for European flights.

Use credit card rewards to make your flights even cheaper

One way to make any flight more affordable is through credit cards that offer travel rewards. Each time you make a purchase with your travel reward credit card, you will be earning points for travel.

When it is time to purchase your flight, you may be able to pay for the whole ticket or part of it with points. Using travel rewards points to your advantage can significantly increase your overall savings on airfare.

To get started, choose a credit card that rewards the way you spend. Most of these cards are associated with a sign-up bonus, make sure to capitalize on those bonus points.

Here are a few of our favorite travel rewards cards:

Chase Sapphire PreferredВ® Card

How to find the cheapest flights

In A Nutshell

The Chase Sapphire PreferredВ® Card sets the standard for travel rewards by offering an excellent 2x points on all travel and dining at restaurant purchases that you then can transfer to airline and hotel partners. And points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That means that the killer 60,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $750 towards travel.

On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Chase Sapphire PreferredВ® Card sets the standard for travel rewards by offering an excellent 2x points on all travel and dining at restaurant purchases that you then can transfer to airline and hotel partners. And points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That means that the killer 60,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $750 towards travel.

What we like:

A monster of an up-front bonus. 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months

2x points per dollar spent on all travel and dining at restaurants, worldwide

Points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Getting low-priced plane tickets isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible

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Tuscany tour offers luxury culinary vacation

Cook in Tuscany co-founders George and Linda Meyers discuss their tours in Tuscany, which include cooking authentic Italian food and wine tasting.

Air travel is more popular and convenient than ever. But it’s often tricky to find flights that don’t cost a small fortune. And if you’re a family, the prices can easily skyrocket.

Continue Reading Below

Take a bit of time to do some research to get those elusive great deals on your plane tickets.

How to find the cheapest flights

Go private

We’re not saying hire a private jet, but we are talking about your online searches. The cookies on your browser can cause the prices of plane tickets to increase when a specific route is repeatedly searched.

In Google Chrome or Safari, incognito is done by pressing Command (or “Control” if using PC), Shift, “N”. For Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, press Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “P”. This will open a new browser window where your information is not tracked, so it won’t increase the prices while you search. But if you’re using an older version of OS X, open Safari then click “Safari” in the menu bar, and select “Private Browsing.”

How to find the cheapest flights

Calendar showing January and February

Be flexible

It’s generally accepted that Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly. There’s no exact science for the reasons why this is, but it’s likely to be the least popular day for passengers so airlines try and ease the numbers off other days and flights by making Tuesday flights more affordable. A study by CheapAir found that Tuesday flights can be up to around $85 less than the week’s most expensive day to fly, Sunday. Wednesday is the second cheapest day to fly and oppositely, Friday is the second most expensive day to fly.

A top tip to remember is midweek flights are more affordable, and weekend ones are more expensive.

If possible, try and schedule your leaving and returning days to the less popular days to travel.

How to find the cheapest flights

Avoid school vacation times

Due to a wave of increase in demand, flight prices and accommodation rise significantly during school vacation times (like spring break). If you’re a parent you’ll know when these are, otherwise, a quick look at your local government website will show you the dates to avoid when booking your trip. If your situation allows, try and book during school semester times, especially for places like Disneyland.

How to find the cheapest flights

Book ahead

To get the best rates and the most competitive prices, book as far ahead as possible. Flights tend to be the most inexpensive around four months to three weeks before your departure date, so get those vacation request forms in quickly.

Join a loyalty program

If you’re a frequent flyer, whether for business or pleasure, look at your favorite carriers to see if they offer a loyalty system. Some airlines let you accumulate miles, while others offer “points” that can be redeemed and used toward things like seating upgrades, cheaper flights, access to the private airport lounges and other benefits.

Compare between airlines to see which offers the most bang for your buck.

How to find the cheapest flights

Booking off-season can pay off.

Think outside the box

Choosing a destination that isn’t going to be wildly popular at certain times of the year can really help drive costs down, in accommodation as well as plane tickets. For example, New Orleans in January and early February is going to be significantly cheaper than around the Mardi Gras weekend.

The South of France is a beautiful destination and can be extremely hot and busy during the peak months of mid-June to the end of August. But if you book in September to early October you could save yourself a small fortune. The weather will still be hot and beachy, but it won’t be crowded.

You can also look at doing a city break. Some flights from one US city to another can be as little as $75 for a round trip.

Nobody wants to spend more than they need to for airline tickets. Unfortunately, prices for airfare can fluctuate wildly depending on when you book and other factors. If you’re looking to save on your next flight, there are some effective ways to find the lowest fare.

Table of Contents

Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates

Do you have any flexibility with your dates of travel? If so, then you could save significantly. Most airlines allow you to search for flights based on specific arrival and departure dates or with flexible dates in mind. If you select flexible dates, you’ll be able to view a calendar that shows specific rates for each possible date of travel. You might be surprised at how much money you can save by flying out on a Thursday instead of a Friday, for example.

Of course, when choosing flexible travel dates to save money, it’s important to consider the potential costs of flying out a date earlier or later. Will it be worth it to take an extra day off of work or stay in a hotel for an extra day? You’ll also want to consider the value of your time when determining whether or not it’s worth it to switch up your travel dates in the name of savings.

Check Out Budget-Friendly Airlines

If you’ve ever compared pricing across different airlines, then you know some airlines simply charge more for airfare than others. If you’re looking to score the lowest possible rate on your flight, you’ll want to check out some of the more budget-friendly airlines, such as Frontier and Southwest. These airlines are known for having lower airfare—but it’s important to understand that you may be making some practical sacrifices by booking through one of these airlines.

For example, Southwest Airlines is able to offer lower fares because they don’t offer assigned/reserved seating. Frontier, on the other hand, has cheap flights but also offers substantially less legroom for passengers. Ultimately, it’s all about what you’re comfortable sacrificing in order to save on your airfare.

Search Online In Incognito Mode

Have you ever searched for rates on a flight or hotel, only to close out of your browser window and return later on to a higher rate for the exact same flight or room? This is a common tactic used by airlines and hotel chains; using cookies, they’re able to track your search criteria when you visit their sites. When you leave and come back to search for the same hotel or flight, they increase the rates ever so slightly. The hope is that you’ll feel pressured to confirm your booking to avoid further rate hikes.

The best way to avoid this? Conduct all your online searches for airfare and hotels (and suitcases, while you’re at it) in incognito mode. This mode prevents sites from tracking your activity, so you’ll always be shown the same low price regardless of how many times you leave the site and come back.

Know When To Start Looking

Knowing when to start searching for airfare can also help you secure the cheapest flight possible. There is no universal “best time” to book a flight; it really depends on where you’re traveling. For example, if you’re looking to fly domestically, your best bet is typically going to be booking anywhere from 1-3 months in advance. If you’re flying internationally, on the other hand, you’ll want to be looking anywhere from 2-8 months out for the best deals.

Time of year can also come in to play when it comes to airline pricing. For example, more people tend to travel during the summer months, so you may need to research and book a little further out for a summer trip than you would with a flight in the middle of winter. For most flights, rates will peak right around 1-2 months from the departure date, as this is when the most people will be booking.

If you’re booking a flight around the holiday season, you’ll also want to give yourself a little more time. And unfortunately, you’re probably going to pay a premium for any flight around the holidays, so don’t want until the last minute in the hopes that you’ll snag a great deal. It’s probably not going to happen.

Take Advantage of Price Guarantees

Many travelers don’t realize that some airlines offer price guarantees. These guarantees actually allow you to cancel your flight reservation and re-book for a discounted price if a lower rate becomes available. In most cases, these guarantees are valid until up to 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to take off.

Specific policies on re-booking at a lower rate can vary from one airline to the next. However, if your flight offers a price guarantee and you find a lower rate more than 24 hours before your flight’s departure, your best course of action is to call the airline directly and ask them to re-book on your behalf. You might be surprised at how much you can save by simply keeping your eye on rates as they fluctuate.

Be careful, though. Some airlines will only allow you to re-book once, whereas others may allow unlimited re-bookings to maximize your savings if rates continue to fall before your flight.

Sign Up For Price Alerts On Specific Flights

If you don’t have the time to constantly be checking rates manually (and who does?) you can always sign up for price alerts through a free service such as Google Flights. This type of service will allow you to enter specific flight information and receive an alert directly to your email address any time the rate for that flight drops. This can be a great way to be alerted in real-time when prices fall so you can take advantage and book immediately.

Google Flights is also useful for searching for cheap airfare to various destinations around the world. Simply select a destination and then view the cheapest rates based on arrival and departure date.

Compare Before You Book Round-Trip

You would probably assume that booking your departure and return flights through the same airline would be the cheapest option, right? You might actually be surprised to learn that this is not always the case. Before you book a round-trip flight through one airline, consider shopping around to see if you could save money by booking your departure and return flights through separate airlines. This is something many travelers never consider, but you can save a surprising amount of money this way.

The same concept applies for flights with layovers or connections. By “mixing and matching” your airlines for these flights, you may be able to save big time (same as you would if you bought a luggage set instead of each suitcase individually). Just be sure that if you book separate airlines for a connecting flight that you give yourself plenty of extra time to get to the necessary gate or terminal. Depending on the airport you’ll be flying out of, you may need to travel to a completely separate terminal to get on your connecting flight, and this can take time.

The Bottom Line

These are some of the hands-down best ways to save on your next flight, regardless of whether you’re flying domestically or internationally. All of these strategies are relatively simple and shouldn’t take up a lot of your time, but can equate to huge savings. That’s money you can use to have a little more fun on your trip or to keep in your bank account.

Why pay more than you need to for your next flight? With these tips and tricks, you can maximize your savings without making any huge sacrifices. And after you see how much you can save, you’ll never want to return to your “old” way of researching and booking flights again!