Travel broadens the mind, this much is true. But is is hard on the pocket. Which is why it’s good to know how to find cheap flights.
There are a myriad options to search for flights online, with a huge selection of flight search engines. From Momondo or CheapoAir to Skyscanner, we all have our favourite.
But if you’re looking for bargain flights, there are a few tips you can follow. Which, conveniently, we’ve summed up below… How nice of us, right?
1. Be flexible
The best way to find cheap flights is to have a broad date range when you can fly. This allows you to browse the options with the best prices.
With most flight search engines, you can simply put in ‘cheapest month’ and the cheapest prices will be displayed. You then simply click on the chosen dates and, presto, choose your cheap flights…
Check out the Momondo widget below to experiment with finding cheap flights.Search and compare flights with momondo
When it comes to being flexible with travel, this is often the best way to save money. Of course there are situations when this isn’t possible, for example if you need to travel at a specific time, or sometimes if you’re travelling with kids or toddlers.
However, in these cases there are other ways to find cheap flights.
2. Mix and match airports
Sometimes the main airport can be much more convenient, but can also be more expensive to fly into. An example is with London. There are five airports in London, and the most convenient, Heathrow, is often the most expensive to fly into. This is because the slots are more expensive and this airport has more high priced/flag carrier airlines.
By flying into a smaller airport, such as Stansted or Luton, you can find cheaper flights as the airlines are usually budget airlines, and the landing slots are cheaper.
However, you then have to worry about the transfer from this outlying town to your destination. In some instances, this can be a lengthy and costly transfer (Barcelona/Girona for example, Oslo Torp and Frankfurt Hahn, all a long way out from their city). You might find cheap flights to these locations, but spend more on the trip to the city centre.
In this case, you’ll need to weigh up if it’s worth more to you simply to fly to the most convenient airport and pay the difference in flight cost.
3. Sometimes a layover is cheaper
On long haul flights you will often find that the direct flights are more expensive. So if you’re searching for a cheap flight, make sure to allow for a layover. Some airlines actually give incentives to explore their home city while you wait for your connection.
Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Icelandair, TAP Portugal and Etihad are just a small selection of the airlines that will either put you up, or give you a discounted hotel while you make that connection. So you could get some bonus sightseeing with your cheap(er) flight!
4. Collect Avios or rewards points
Many bank cards and credit cards offer flight miles with each purchase, the best known being Avios. If you have the option, get one of these cards and collect those points! It might not be ‘finding a cheap flight’ but it can help to discount your travel and maybe even get you a cheap flight!
5. Time your search
When looking for a cheap flight, your timing can actually make a big difference. For example, most airlines release tickets in staggered pricing lots. So the initial seats might be top priced, but then the next tiered seats may be cheaper, with the seats closer to the time being more expensive.
Typically, the best time to book cheap flights is about 4 months before you want to fly. However, plenty of cheaper seats can also be released any time between 6-8 weeks before the departure date. To be honest, it depends on the popularity of the route.
For example, New York to Paris is going to be a popular flight all year round, so getting in earlier will likely be best. The same applies for popular tourist desinations such as Greece, Spain, Thailand and Bali – earlier is better.
But some less popular routes might offer cut price flights within a week before departure as they attempt to fill seats.
6. Use a travel agent
Old school? Well the benefit of using a travel agent to find you a cheap flight is that they will often have been given an allowance of lower cost seats. And they’ll also know how to find those elusive cheap flights, or suggest an alternative.
Give it a try next time.