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.
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So if you’re looking to fly somewhere but don’t want to spend a lot of money, finding the cheapest flight is probably at the top of your to-do list. While it’s not always easy finding cheap flights, following these 10 tips can help you book a flight to your dream destination without hurting your bank account.
Don’t Always Opt For a Direct Flight
If you have the flexibility, it’s usually cheaper to have a layover on your flight than if you would have chosen a nonstop flight. Just try not to be tempted to spend more of your money in the airport shops and restaurants.
Look For Student Discounts
Students (or people under the age of 26) should not sleep on student discounts. StudentUniverse.com provides promo codes and deals on flights that students can use. You can also check individual airlines’ student discounts to see if you can apply them to your flight.
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.
Keep Budget Airlines Bookmarked
Often, budget airlines will hold flash sales where you can take advantage of great deals, but only during a limited time. The best way to know about these is to sign up from emails from them. Scott’s Cheap Flights lists Southwest, Avelo, JetBlue and Breeze Airways as the top budget airlines for flights within the United States.
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.
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.
Make Sure To Compare Search Engines
Not every method is cheapest all of the time. Your best bet is to check multiple cheap airline sites to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Skyscanner, Momondo and Google Flights are all known for showcasing low fares, so check all three for your next trip.
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Sam DiSalvo contributed to the reporting for this article.