Want to know how to find cheap flights? I’ve been traveling since 2013 and here are my best tips for finding cheap airfares around the world, no matter what airline or class you prefer.
There are various factors that will lower or raise prices on airfares, and it can be daunting to try finding the best flight deals. However, with a few tricks, it’s actually a lot easier to find cheap flights than you might think.
What affects the price on flights?
To understand how the price is set, you should know about the various factors behind the price level. Additionally, there are also different variables that make airlines lower or raise their prices.
- Price on oil
- If the airline has oil hedging or not
- Taxes and fees
- What price the airline estimate to fill their plane for
These factors affect the price to go up or down, and they are all interconnected. That’s also why the price can change several times a day depending on when you perform the search.
Example: If the price of oil falls, then perhaps a competing airline will lower the price of their trips to Berlin from Stockholm. Then the other airline will probably also lower its prices, perhaps even more so than the competing airline, in order to fill their plane.
Another example: In case the airline offers a flight to Barcelona and only 10% of the seats are booked with 15 days left for departure. Then the price is likely to fall because the airline obviously wants to sell more seats. However, on the contrary, if 90% of the seats are booked with 15 days until departure, then the price will probably increase instead.
Seven tips to book cheap flights
Be flexible with your dates
Since the prices can vary a lot, it’s better if you can be flexible. Travelers who can be flexible with their dates have a much better chance of finding cheap flights. It can differ several hundred Euros just by changing the departure date by 1-3 days.
Even a small thing like the time of departure can have a huge impact on the price. Statistically, it’s cheaper to fly on a weekday compared to weekends.
Also, don’t forget to check if there’s a local holiday or celebration going on for your dates. Additionally, have in mind that high-season often sees more expensive flight tickets, and low-season typically have cheaper airfares.
Furthermore, days, when people don’t want to travel, can also be a great saver, such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Most people want to spend those two days with their family, and not on a flight, which means that airlines are likely not to sell as many flights.
Fly to an airport nearby instead of the main airport
A big airport is often equal to higher fees for the airlines, which in turn leads to more expensive airfares. That’s why it might be worthwhile to check nearby airports and see if there’s any low-cost airline flying there.
This is especially something that works well in Europe, where there are many smaller airports where low-cost airlines fly to, such as Ryanair or Easyjet. London is a great example, where Heathrow is the main airport, and Gatwick and Stansted are smaller airports that typically have cheaper flights.
The difference for travelers is usually just a slightly longer travel time from the airport to the city, but the savings can be huge. This is one of my best tips to find cheap airfares around the world.
Check alternative routes and stopovers
In addition to being flexible with dates and airports, you could also take a look at alternative routes and stopovers. Sometimes, it can be cheaper to make a stopover somewhere or even stay the night compared to a direct flight.
Furthermore, even two single tickets can be cheaper than a roundtrip, and vice versa. It all depends on the circumstances for the airlines and that’s why it’s always a good idea to check optional routes.
Remember that not all search engines are the same
If you’ve been comparing flights before, you’re probably familiar with the fact that prices can differ a lot between various websites and airlines. The reason for this is that every search engine has its own system and database that they follow.
Many trips are of course almost identical, but it’s always a good idea to compare different flight search engines if you want to find cheap flights. My personal favorite sites are without a doubt Skyscanner and Momondo.
I always start my search for airfares via these sites. Skyscanner is my go-to website for cheap flights since I think they display the best results, and their site is also user-friendly.
Look for discounts and special offers
Before you book your airfare, it’s a good idea to check if there are any current discounts or special offers that you can use. Sometimes, there will be discounts for students, new customers or other types of rewards.
If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s probably a good idea if you join a reward program or sign up for a newsletter. Many airlines and travel companies will send newsletters with special discounts as well as news about new routes.
Decide your maximum price
Example: A round trip to the US from Europe costs 700 Euro. At first glance, you might find that a bit expensive if you’re looking for cheap flights. You wait a couple of hours or days, and when you make the next search, you find flights for 300 Euros.
If you don’t book that flight for 300 Euro, prices might be raised later on, and it’s better not to take the risk. Imagine if you wait a few days more just because you want the prices to lower even more, and suddenly, you can only find flights for 500 Euro.
That’s not a scenario that you want to face just because you wanted to save a few extra bucks. Finding cheap flights is a form of art, and it takes a lot of practice to understand how the market works, and when to take chances.
Therefore, always ask yourself – How much am I willing to pay and what’s a good price for me?
Book early, but not too early
Statistically speaking, it’s better to book early, and not later than 30 days until departure. However, there are exceptions to this as well, so sometimes, it might be worthwhile to wait or book as soon as possible.
My research shows that the cheapest flights will be booked when it’s approximately 60 days until departure. As a rule of thumb, you’ll find cheap airfares between 50-90 days before departure.
Many airlines will lower their prices when it’s around 60 days left, in order to sell more seats and fill their planes. However, if it’s a popular route or if there is a special event on-going for the dates you’ve chosen, expect prices to be higher.
Furthermore, if the airline hasn’t sold enough seats, they will always lower their price to attract more travelers. This can also be true when airlines launch a new route to create a buzz around it.
If you’re flexible with your dates, I recommend that you will start looking at flights when you have 90 days until your estimated departure day. Stay cool for a few weeks and watch how the price level evolves.
Finally, I want to urge that you should always book cheap flights when you’ve found a price that’s acceptable to you. Spending more money than anticipated is not fun, and you never really know what will happen.
Checklist before you book your flights
- Compare various sites and search engines
- Check different dates and compare prices as well as departure times
- Make a quick search at the airline’s website to see their price
- Check for discounts and special offers on cheap flights
Book cheap flight tickets
I always recommend using Skyscanner to find flights around the world. It’s easy and allows you to search on a monthly basis with the lowest prices clearly visible.
Other search engines to find cheap flights
Kayak is an American search engine that you can use to compare and find cheap flight tickets online. It’s not a website that I use personally, but if you’re based in the US or Canada, it might be useful to know about.
Momondo is another search engine that works more or less the same way as Skyscanner. In addition to flights, you can also use it to compare rental cars and hotels.
Google has their own flight search engine which you can use directly in Google. It’s not something that I use personally, and I don’t find it to be as user-friendly as Skyscanner or Momondo.
Want more tips on how to find cheap flights around the world? Leave a comment below!