12 Ways To Get Cheap Flights for College Students

Close up shot of a young man asleep with his head back snoring on a flight in economy class.
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As a college student, you likely know you are eligible for a variety of discounts on things like entertainment, retail shopping, electronics and insurance. But you might not know that student discounts also extend to travel. The problem is, sometimes those discounts aren’t advertised.

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With airfare starting to rise, it’s important to take advantage of every bit of savings you can when booking a flight. Rather than quickly searching online and taking what you can get, use these tips to get the best price available. From pulling out your student ID to searching for flights by day of the week, here are 12 ways to get cheap flights for college students.

Use Your Student ID

“Many airlines offer discounts to students,” said Fred Hoffman, founder and chief editor at The True Wilderness. “All you have to do is show your student ID when you book your flight or at the airport.”

Some airlines that offer student discounts include Delta, United and Virgin Atlantic.

Use Student Universe

“As a travel consultant, I encourage students to check out Student Universe for flight deals,” said Katrina Warren, CEO and lead consultant for Alexandrian Consulting. “This website is tailored to students who would like to travel during breaks. Some schools, like Stanford, have partnered with Student Universe and have a portal just for their students.”

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Use StudentBeans

“This is one of my favorite discount websites for students,” said Warren. “They offer discounts for a variety of online stores. They also have deals with airlines like Qatar Airways where students can receive up to 20% off. Students will also receive discounts when using Booking.com and eDreams.”

Use ScholarTrip

“Another student air travel site is ScholarTrip,” Warren said. “A unique benefit of this site is that they allow you to book your flights and pay them off monthly.”

Download the Hopper App

“For those students who prefer cell phone apps for flight deals, I encourage them to check out Hopper, which will allow you to track flights in addition to having a colorful way to see which days are cheaper,” said Warren. 

Search for Flights in Incognito Mode

“When you search for flights in your web browser, the prices you see might be tailored to your search history,” said Hoffman. “To avoid this, search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode. This way, the prices you see will be based on the average price for that route and not inflated due to your browsing history.”

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Use Google Flight’s Explore Feature

“This tool has saved me thousands over the years,” said Katie Cafaro owner of Katie Caf Travel. “With the Explore function, you can see what any destination in the world costs to fly to from your point of departure.”

Cafaro added, “I remember I used Explore in 2019 when I was trying to fly from New York to Marrakech, Morocco. If I searched flights from New York to Marrakech they were all $1,000 or more, but using Google Flight’s Explore tool I was able to see that a flight from New York to Amsterdam was only $300. From Amsterdam, a flight to Marrakech was only $200! I was able to save over $300 by booking my flight in two separate legs with Google Flight’s Explore feature rather than booking as one flight with layovers.”

Fly During Shoulder Season

“Shoulder season is the period between the peak and off-peak travel times,” said Hoffman. “Flying during shoulder season can often lead to cheaper flights as there is less demand from travelers. For example, flying to Europe in the spring or fall can often be cheaper than flying during the summer.”

Consider the Day of Week When Booking a Flight

“Be flexible with your dates, if possible, to find a cheaper flight,” said Mark and Kristen Morgan, creators of Where Are Those Morgans. “For example, flying on a Saturday or Sunday will usually be much more expensive compared to flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Always check prices for different days before you book.”

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Consider the Time of Day When Booking a Flight

“Another tip to save on flights is to book either the first or last flights of the day as they tend to be priced lower, according to the 2022 CheapAir.com Domestic Airfare Study,” said Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com. An added benefit of early morning flights is that they also tend to be on time more often.

Consider Booking Flights Earlier Rather Than Later

“The best day to buy flights fluctuates year over year,” Klee said. “This year, the best day to purchase a domestic flight for the best deal is approximately 76 days out from your travel date, per the 2022 CheapAir.com Domestic Airfare Study.”

Consider Budget Airlines

“Fly with budget airlines when possible,” said the Morgans. “But understand you must always read the fine print. These budget airlines make their money by charging extra for both a cabin bag and/or checked bag. Budget airlines work best for minimalistic travelers.”

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About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 12 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, AOL, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Times and The Network Journal. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
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