how to find cheap flights

How to Find Cheap Flights

Mastering the Art of Budget Travel

Traveling by air can often be the most convenient way to reach your destination, but flight costs can quickly add up, making it one of the more significant expenses of your trip. However, with a little know-how and a flexible approach, you can find significantly cheaper airfares. In this article, we’ll explore ten ways to find cheap flights so you can spend less on travel and more on enjoying your destination.

1. Use Flight Comparison Websites

One of the first steps to finding cheap flights is to use flight comparison websites. These platforms aggregate data from airlines and travel agencies to provide you with a broad range of options. Websites like Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights allow you to compare prices across various airlines and travel dates. Some even offer features that alert you when prices drop for your preferred route.

2. Choose the Right Time to Book

There’s much debate over the best time to book a flight to get the lowest fare, but a few general principles hold true. Airfares often rise as the departure date nears, so booking well in advance is usually a good idea. However, if airlines have not sold enough seats as the date approaches, they might drop prices to fill the plane. A sweet spot for booking is generally between 6-8 weeks before domestic flights and 2-3 months for international flights.

3. Be Flexible with Your Dates and Times

Flexibility can lead to significant savings when searching for flights. Being open to traveling on different dates often yields better deals. Flying mid-week, especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, is typically cheaper than flying on weekends due to lower demand. Red-eye flights or flights at less convenient times, such as early in the morning or late at night, tend to be less expensive as well.

4. Consider Alternative Airports

Using alternative airports can dramatically cut costs. For example, flying into a smaller, regional airport near your destination, or flying out of one near your starting point, can be cheaper than using major airports. Be sure to consider the additional travel time and transportation costs to and from these alternative airports to ensure it's worth the savings.

5. Try Budget Airlines

Budget airlines offer significantly lower prices by cutting the frills of traditional carriers. Companies like Ryanair in Europe, Southwest in the United States, AirAsia in Asia and others have revolutionized budget travel by offering no-frills service at a fraction of the cost. Be aware of additional charges for things like checked baggage and seat selection, which can add up.

6. Sign Up for Fare Alerts

Most flight comparison sites and some airlines allow you to sign up for fare alerts for specific routes. By setting these alerts, you’ll be notified via email when there is a price drop. This can help you book at the right time without having to constantly check prices manually.

7. Benefit from Airline Error and Sale Fares

Airlines periodically offer sale fares or accidentally post incorrect prices due to system errors. By keeping an eye on travel deal websites and forums, you can catch these mistakes and take advantage of unusually cheap flights. Be ready to book quickly, as these error fares often get corrected in a short time.

8. Use Incognito Mode

While it remains a debated topic, some travelers have found that searching for flights in a web browser's incognito or private browsing mode can reveal cheaper prices. It’s believed that some booking sites and airlines might track your searches and potentially raise prices on the routes you are interested in. Using incognito mode can prevent this potential issue.

9. Accumulate and Use Air Miles

Signing up for frequent-flyer programs and accumulating air miles can save you a lot on flights. You can earn miles not just by flying but also by making everyday purchases through affiliated credit cards, shopping online through the airline’s portal or dining at partner restaurants. When enough miles are accumulated, they can be redeemed for free flights or seat upgrades.

10. Book Connecting Flights Manually

While direct flights offer convenience, connecting flights can be cheaper. Sometimes booking two separate flights manually to reach your destination can result in savings, especially if the connecting city is a major hub with frequent and competitively priced flights. However, when booking separate flights, include ample time between connections to handle any delays or issues.

Final Notes

Finding cheap flights requires a combination of strategy, timing and sometimes a bit of luck. Employing these tips will considerably up your chances of landing a great deal on air travel. Remember that each trip is unique, so it’s worth experimenting with different approaches to see what works best for your particular itinerary and preferences. Good luck and happy travels!

Check out the carry-on luggage size for American Airlines, if you choose to go down that route.