Though traveling has eased up again, with relaxed COVID-19 health protocols and an increase in vaccinated Americans, it has definitely not become cheaper. If anything, airline prices are on the rise again as travelers set out in droves.
So if you’re looking to fly somewhere but don’t want to spend a lot of money, finding the cheapest flight is probably top of your list. While finding cheap flights is not the easiest way to book, following these 11 tips can help you find a flight that will bring to you a dream destination without hurting your bank account.
Last updated: Aug. 19, 2021
Search In Incognito Mode
According to the travel website Thrifty Nomads, the cookies on your computer browsers may be working against you finding the cheapest flight. When the airline search engine remembers you, it often automatically raises the prices. To disable this, you need to search in “incognito mode.”
For browsers Google Chrome or Safari, you can enable this mode by pressing Command (or “Control” if using PC), Shift, and “N”. For Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, and “P”. This function opens a new browser window that the website hasn’t tracked, and your prices should avoid inflation.
Start With Skyscanner
There are a number of different browsers and search engines, but Skyscanner is a favorite among travelers for its ability to find the widest and cheapest array of flights.
Take Surveys To Earn Miles/Points
One of the best ways to “earn” free miles on airline flights is to open a credit card or membership account that rewards you with miles or points. Though most people know to open a travel credit card, join an airline’s miles program, or shop at certain online locations, one of the lesser-known ways to earn miles is by taking airlines’ online surveys, according to the Washington Post.
Scott’s Cheap Flights
This website began as a hobby when its founder, Scott Keyes, found a $130 roundtrip flight in 2013 from New York to Milan that was such a good deal, he decided to travel there, even though it hadn’t been on his radar. From there, word spread, and he began to help friends and family find similarly cheap flights. It went from a hobby to a business, with nearly two million subscribers, and now people all over the world vouch for the cheap flight deals that one can get through Scott’s website.
Book Your Connecting Flights Manually
If you’re relying upon either a flight search engine or a travel agent to book all of your connections, you might be losing money. If you have the luxury of time between flights, especially, Thrifty Nomad suggests you can probably find a cheaper flight by booking your own “legs” of a flight separately, on your own. Just be careful to leave yourself plenty of time in between flights to reduce the risk of missing a connection.
Mix and Match Airlines
There’s no golden rule that you have to fly the same airline for every leg of your journey. Flight search engine “Kiwi” mixes and matches airlines to get you the best deal, no matter where you’re going.
Avoid Peak Flying Seasons
It probably goes without saying, but flying during peak seasons such as summer and the holidays is going to be more expensive than any other time of year. But even minor holidays such as labor day weekend and Fourth of July often have inflated prices, so steer clear.
Let Price Dictate Your Destination
Most of the time, you have a travel destination in mind, and then you find the best price. But if you can be open to the possibilities, consider picking your destination by the price. Like Scott Keyes, of Scott’s Cheap Flights, sometimes if the price is right, the destination might not need to be your first priority. This might also take you somewhere new you’ve never considered traveling before.
Find the Cheapest Airport To Fly Into
Not all airports are created equal in price. If you’re flying to a location that has multiple airports, using a search engine like Google Flights will allow you to see the price differences between these airports and select your flight by which one best fits your budget. While this might mean you have to shift your travel plans slightly or arrange for longer travel time from airport to destination, the costs saved may be worth it.
Travel On the Cheapest Days of the Week
Truth be told, there is no science behind which days of the week are cheapest to fly, and prices can fluctuate. However, Scott’s Cheap Flights suggests that on average, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are most likely to be cheaper than the other days of the week.
Book Group Tickets Individually
When you book tickets together as a group, the software of airline search engines tends to aggregate fares by type, so even if there is a cheaper ticket available because you’re buying three, it will give you all three at $299 rather than one at $199 and so on, according to Scott’s Cheap Flights. Thus, buying your tickets individually means you have a greater chance of finding the best, cheapest flight per ticket. It may mean that you don’t get seats together, however, though often checking in at the ticketing booth, or calling ahead, can solve that.