The process of searching for the cheapest flight, especially in terms of budget, can be quite frustrating and exhausting. Searches can take quite a lot of time, as prices are changing frequently, depending on many aspects.
As it is important to find budget accommodation, just as important is finding a flight to help you save. There are great deals and combinations, but you have to be inventive and know how to find them. Even if the tips provided in this article are not always valid, they will often help you discover great options.
How to find the cheapest flights
Search a long time in advance
Searching the internet for cheap plane tickets has to start long before. Even if it is possible to find last minute cheap plane tickets, you can’t rely on that. Usually, airline companies place tickets up to 12 months in advance. So start searching from the beginning to make sure you get the best offer of cheap plane tickets. There are studies that show that the best prices appear about 7 weeks before the flight. The same studies say their purchase is much more expensive if done less than 14 days in advance.
Try different combinations
Juggle with the options you find. For example, if you want to go from Bucharest to Rio de Janeiro and the tickets you find are very expensive, you can try a different combination. You may find a very cheap Bucharest-Paris flight, followed by Paris-Rio de Janeiro at an affordable price. Moreover, you can also have a longer layover in the capital of France to enjoy. Basically, you will have a cheaper plane ticket, but also the possibility to visit two different destinations.
There are plenty of things that you can do in a city. Also, you can have a free tour of the city, offered by the airline you flew with. I had this opportunity when I had a long layover in Istanbul, and I was offered a free tour by Turkish Airlines. I had the chance to visit Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazaar for free. The tour can take from 3 to up to 9 hours, depending on the length of your layover.
Probably the most important factor in finding cheap airfares is flexibility. Both in terms of date, time of day, but also destination. This applies especially to those in love with the trip itself, and not necessarily to a particular destination. If you don’t insist on visiting a place you have for a long time on your bucket list, then juggle with the destinations. For this, I highly recommend Skyscanner and Kayak sites. On these applications, you can enter the departure, and choose anywhere for the destination. You can choose a whole month to see where the cheapest flights are. And you can buy tickets according to the offers found.
Besides the destination, as I already mentioned, it is important, if you have the possibility, to be flexible both in terms of flight time and day of the week. It seems that generally the cheapest airline tickets are at the earliest hours, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Attention, these stats are not always valid! Therefore, it is advisable not to rely on them and just consider them an optional influence.
On Skyscanner and Kayak, you have the ability to do very complex searches. They can show you the cheapest flights anywhere in the world in a certain period. For example, I simulated a search in Bucharest for June 2019 and found out that the cheapest flight ticket in that period is to Italy, followed by Belgium. The results can be displayed as a list or map, depending on what you wish.
Search for tickets on Skyscanner:
Also on Skyscanner, you can search for flights based on the cheapest month of the year. Simply select the cheapest month when you should put the dates and you will see a full list of cheap plane tickets.
Search for cheap plane tickets on Kayak:
Buy directly from the airline website
Not very often, but it’s possible that the ticket you’ve found on the previously mentioned sites (Skyscanner, Kayak, Expedia, Booking, Momondo or Google Flights) is more expensive than going directly to the site of the airline. So, to make sure you make the right choice for your budget, don’t forget to check both sources before paying.
Delete the cookies on your browser
Delete the cookies! Booking sites have a tracking system through which they can figure out the destinations you insist on finding a convenient ticket. And they take advantage of the situation to increase prices for that specific destination. So, if you found a good price for a ticket and you want to buy it later, try opening another browser, another device or even another from a different location. Navigating in a private browser session, you may find a lower price. Because the site can not use tracking cookies to determine the previous navigation history you have.
Try at other airports
The largest cities generally have more than one airport, and it’s not rare that the price for a flight to the same destination differs between the two airports. Or, if there are two cities with airports at a distance roughly equal to where you are, check the prices for both to make the best decision. Often, it is even more convenient to go to the neighboring country for a cheaper flight. Make sure you have enough time between flights if you are in the situation of landing at an airport and taking the next flight from the other airport in the city. Or if the terminals are different.
By far the most expensive plane tickets are during the holidays and that’s because many people choose to celebrate by going on a short vacation. Even a week before or after that holiday, prices continue to rise, so you have to take this into account. However, if you buy the ticket on exactly the date of the holiday, it is possible that then the ticket will be cheaper because only a few are flying in the middle of the holiday. For example, I flew one year from New York to Bucharest on December 25, and the price was reasonable.
Buy flights with longer layovers
If you are the kind of traveler that is not bothered by long and exhausting layovers, then that could be a solution. Differences in price can be considerable, but the main advantage is that you can have time to discover a new destination for a few hours. Often I chose this method and I had the opportunity to explore new places.
For example, in the upcoming period, I will fly to Cairo with a long, 12-hour stopover in Athens. Although I had other options, with smaller stopovers and higher prices, I chose this option to explore the capital of Greece for one day, but also to save money. The same happened when I landed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I chose to take advantage of that by visiting the Petronas Towers. In the same way, I did when I had a long connection between flights in Istanbul.
Pay attention to extra costs
Some companies will display low prices on the ticket without baggage included. But once you add this option, the ticket can be doubled. So, sometimes it’s better to buy from another company that already has baggage included. If you know that you have extra luggage, pay the tax online because it is much cheaper than when you get to do it at the desk at the airport.
Subscribe to airline newsletters
Most airline offers are available directly on their websites. They can come in the form of promotional codes or simply temporary discounts that you can not catch unless you are informed. Newsletters are a kind of information bulletins of these offers. You can receive by email and that can bring you discounts of up to 50%. So, the more you subscribe to, the more likely you are to get promotional offers.
Airplane tickets represent a fairly large percentage of our travel budget, which means that we should do serious research in order to discover the best options. Probably there are more tips&tricks than those mentioned in the article, so any advice you have in addition, I invite you to leave it in a comment below.
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