4 tips to catch the cheapest flights
Traveling is one of my favorite pastimes! It's always great to get away and enjoy new scenery, food, and people. Since I love traveling I have made it a priority in my budget.
Finding a flight deal is one of the easiest ways to cut down expenses on a trip. Just last year, I purchased a round trip flight to DC for $100 and helped a friend find two round trip tickets to Atlanta for less than $80 total! Flight Deals are not only available for domestic flights, but they are also available when flying internationally.
Below are 4 tips on finding inexpensive flights:
The most common way to search for a flight deal is through search engines. Up until 2013, Kayak and Priceline were my favorite search engines to use. They are both extremely user-friendly and have been around for years.
Hands down, google flights is now my favorite search engine to find flight deals. Head over to the homepage of google flights and there is a "discover destinations" page which lets you search for the best deals based on your dates anywhere in the world. For my last trip during December, I was extremely open to the destination so I used the "discover destinations" section regularly to search for the best deals. You can also narrow your search by region of the world you desire to travel to like South America or Europe.
In addition, google flights will let you know the "best flight". This takes in consideration things like cost, layover time, the length of flight, and departure/arrivals times. Google Flights also automatically lets you know if there is a lower flight available if you fly from a nearby airport and within 3 days. For more detailed information regarding Google Flights, check out this post The #1 Flight Search Engine.
The search engines I mentioned previously (Priceline, Kayak, Google Flights) and many others will allow you to set a price alert. This is ideal when your destination and travel dates are fixed. After providing your travel dates and email address, you will receive regular emails letting you know the cheapest price for your flight as well as if the flight has gone up or down in price.
Travel alerts are convenient when you have a trip planned far in advance so you can be updated the best time to purchase. I tend to set price alerts when I need to be in a location a certain date due to a wedding or other special event.
Flight Deal Websites
The ultimate way to find a flight deal is by following various niche websites dedicated to posting deals. Most of these websites are not directly affiliated with any airline in particular. Checking these websites very regularly is one option to catch deals or you can follow the websites on social media. Personally, I follow all of the websites on twitter. Once I see a twitter post regarding a flight deal that I am interested in, I follow the link for more details regarding the deal.
Below are a few of my favorite sites which post deals to their twitter accounts:
Although listed toward the end of the list, flexibility is probably the most important item on the list. An inexpensive flight may not be the "perfect flight".
- Are your dates flexible where you can leave a day earlier or go a different weekend? Are you available to leave at any time of the day?
- Are you willing to have an overnight layover in a random city?
- Are you open to leaving from a nearby airport?
- Are you willing to take a red-eye flight?
- Are you able to purchase the flight on the same day you see the flight deal?
Ultimately, only you can answer those questions. I have seen plenty of inexpensive flights but I personally haven't found a deal where I am willing to have an overnight layover yet. I have flown out of nearby airports for a great deal but I try to include gas and parking to that airport when thinking of the total flight cost.
Also, the best flight deals usually don't last long. One of the worst feelings I have experienced was finding a round trip flight to Panama City, Panama for $200 at 7am; however, when I went to purchase the flight that same day at 5pm the flight was no longer available and the next flight price was hundreds of dollars more! Flight deals don't last forever! It is important to buy fast!
When getting a flight deal on certain discount airlines, there may be additional costs associated with that flight above the listed price paid at checkout. Those additional costs include but are not limited to carry-on baggage, checked baggage and seat fees. Prior to purchasing a flight with an airline you have never flown before, be sure to verify those additional fees. Additional costs are typically disclosed on the website of that specific airline. In many cases the additional fees can not only be paid in advance but also there may be a discount for paying them in advance.
Ultimately when determining the overall best deal for me, I factor in the full picture including flight times, hidden costs, and personal airline preference. Check out the basic example below for clarity:
Flight A: $200 round trip flight + $0 checked/carry-on baggage or seat fees. Total cost $200.
Flight B: $140 round trip flight + $30 carry-on baggage fees each way* + $6 seat fee each way*. Total cost $212.
*Cost breakdown for Flight B includes $30 carry-on baggage fee for 1 carry-on bag and $6 seat fee. Each fee is encountered on departure and return flight.
Prior to looking at the broader picture including the additional costs, flight price alone appears to make Flight B the cheaper round trip flight. Keep this in mind when determining the overall best flight for your situation.
RELATED: Save cash with these tips!