Many of my friends have asked me how to get the best flight deals or which websites I use to book cheap flights, and while I would love to point them to the magical site that gives them the best deal it’s a little bit more work then going to a single site. Getting the best flight deal usually means having flexibility. This means flexibility with the date and even the destination.
Below are my tips depending on your flexibility…
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Your Destination is Set,
But You’re Not Flexible on Dates
But what if you already have a destination in mind? That’s okay! You can still get there, you just want to be strategic.
If you need to be in a certain location and don’t have much flexibility or any flexibility at all on the dates then flying into a larger airport will be your best bet. And if your home airport is a larger airport, even better! It’s a lot easier finding cheap flights from LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) for international travel, compared to say McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee. Assuming you don’t have a super tight schedule, utilizing a larger airport can save you money.
Flying into a Larger Airport:
Examples of How Much You Can Save
My friend and I were trying to plan a trip during a three-day weekend. National holidays that create a three-day weekend are usually the worst times to travel because flights and accommodations are usually a lot higher and many popular destinations have huge crowds. However, we were determined to find a good deal on a trip. We came up with Savannah, Georgia. A roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Savannah during that weekend was around $500. I knew we could get there for less than that so I looked up flights for Atlanta instead because that’s a bigger airport and it’s also a hub for Delta Airlines amongst a couple other airlines.
A roundtrip flight to Atlanta was around $260 and Atlanta is only a three and a half hour drive from Savannah. Knowing that we wanted to rent a car anyway this was the perfect option. A compact car rental was around $38 a day with collision insurance. Since it was a three-person trip, that was the total cost of the rental after we split it three ways.
Without “Deal” // Flying into Savannah
Our 3-day trip to Savannah would have been $538 just in transportation if we flew into Savannah ($500 for the flight and $38 each person for the car rental, this equation doesn’t include gas)
With “Deal” // Flying into Atlanta
So instead of flying directly into Savannah, we opted for flying into Atlanta and driving to Savannah which came out to $298. What a difference! Yes, we would have spent more in gas (probably only $30-40 extra, which would have been split amongst us) but we would have gotten to see more plus save almost half of what we would have paid.
Another example is when I flew into Peru. My friends and I were planning a trip and we wanted to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The gateway to Machu Picchu is Cusco, however, Cusco is a smaller city and has a much smaller airport. Flights from LA to Cusco were starting at just under $900 round trip. We opted to fly into the capital city of Lima instead using Copa Airlines. We then booked a roundtrip flight to Cusco via Peruvian Airlines I believe. Doing this also allowed us to explore Lima for a few days before heading to Cusco.
Without “Deal” // Booking Flight to Cusco
A roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Cusco would have cost $900. We would not have gotten to see Lima, nor would we have been able to acclimate for a couple days in Lima. Cusco is a higher elevation and it’s recommended to acclimate in Lima before heading to Cusco.
With “Deal” // Booking Flight to Lima and Booking Cusco Separately
With some strategic planning, our roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Lima was about $600 plus $100 for roundtrip airfare from Lima to Cusco. A total of $700 for this option and a savings of about $200.
With a little bit of strategic thinking, you can save on your next flight!
Your Destination is Set, But You Have a Tight Schedule, And You’re Not Flexible on Dates
If utilizing a larger airport isn’t an option because of time constraints and non-flexible dates then your best bet to find cheap flights is by using a flight deals app or website such as Google Flights to search for the best flights for those dates then confirming you got the best deal by going down a long list of websites (this is where having patience kicks in).
Compare the Best Deal You Find With Other Flight Search Engines and the Airline’s Websites
It’s not fun and it takes time to ensure you have the best deal consider checking that information against another flight search engine such as kayak.com or Skyscanner. Then search the cheapest flights on the airline’s website. Sometimes booking directly with the airline can be cheaper or the airline could be running a promo.
With any flight, I book I usually use this method to double-check I have the best deal. Also, note that some airlines will not appear on flight search engines. Southwest and Allegiant are two U.S. airlines that don’t use third-party flight search engines so it’s worth going directly to their sites and checking your dates.
You Have Flexibility With the Destination
Another way to save on flights is by being completely flexible on the destination. Say things slow down at your work in the month of May and this is the best month for you to take a two-week vacation. In this case, if I want to travel somewhere during a certain time period, I would go to Skyscanner.com put in the location I would fly out of then click the “everywhere” option. I then would enter my dates or use the “whole month” option. I would recommend selecting “whole month” if you aren’t committed to certain dates. The “whole month” option will give you more flexibility which may lead to a cheaper flight deal.
Now I go through all the countries that come up and they are all in order from the lowest cost to the highest. Sometimes they are unknown, which means the prices aren’t coming up through Skyscanner and you would have to click on that country to explore further. If you’re the type of person who has a variety of places you’d like to visit then you’re in luck. It will be easy for you to find destination options that are the most affordable. If you’re more selective this may not be the best option.
Once you found a couple options that work for you, double check the prices with another site and check the airlines. Book with whatever is least expensive.
You Have Flexibility With Dates
If you have a certain destination in mind but are flexible on dates you can then type in that destination into Skyscanner and for dates select “cheapest month.” This is one of my favorite tools to find flight deals by month. You can search by month and see what works best for you.
Say you want to find cheap flights to Hawaii. You can enter each island into the search, or click “Everywhere,” then click on United States and scroll down until you see the cheapest Hawaiian destination that interests you.
If you have a month window or even a season you’d like to be at your destination then you can find flight deals by date by clicking on the months you’re interested in and then click on Skyscanner’s “chart” tool to see how much the cheapest flight is by date.
Again, always compare your flight options before booking!
You Have Flexibility With the Destination and Dates
So this is the ideal situation, you just want to get away and it doesn’t really matter when. You’ll want to input where you’re flying out of, then clicking the “Everywhere” option and clicking “cheapest month” for dates. Go down the list of countries and see what appeals to you. This could take a while if you’re more indecisive or just want to further research each location but it’s a good situation to be in to get a killer flight deal.
Sign up for Airline Emails for
Another option to find cheap flights anywhere is by signing up for e-newsletters for various airlines. Budget airlines like Norwegian and Wow sometimes have amazing deals that are available to their email list customers or followers on social media.
Follow Flight Deal Alerts on Social Media
The following companies share the best deals on flights and error fares. I follow each of these on Facebook. Make sure to follow them as “see first” on Facebook so that it always pops up on your feed. Following companies that do flight deal alerts can help you book cheap flights around the world.
Use a Flight Deal Finder
My favorite flight deal finder is Dollar Flight Club. The team at Dollar Flight Club are always on the lookout for the best flight deals. They ingest flight data from various sources to identify deals sitting 60-90% below the average round-trip price. When they find these amazing deals travel alerts are sent to the subscribers based on their settings.
Learn more about the service here and sign up for a FREE 14-day premium account trial here.
You Have a Set Location
but Flexibility With Stopovers
If you want to fly to a city in Europe or Asia from the United States it might not be as cheap to fly into say Lisbon, Portugal but if you fly into Barcelona or Madrid and take another flight to Lisbon you can save hundreds. If you’re looking into a particular location research what are the cheapest airports to fly into in that area of the continent.
Below is a shortlist of some of the major airports in Asia and Europe:
Southeast Asia – Bangkok (BKK), Kuala Lumpur, Singapore
Asia – Tokyo, Beijing, Guangzhou, Taipei
Europe – London, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Paris, Rome
This goes back to the first rule or utilizing larger airports except in Europe and Asia, you can find killer flight deals on flights within the continent. In the United States, it’s harder to find flight one-way flights under $80.
If you’re booking an international flight into one location and then a short, cheap flight into your end destination I recommend giving yourself at least a day in between the two flights. If the first flight has a delay and you miss your second flight you are more than likely not covered and will have to pay to rebook your flight. This works best when you have some time flexibility and can afford to stay a day or two at the first destination.
Having a hard time finding cheap flights to your end destination? Look into alternative methods of transportation such as train, bus or possibly renting a car
Tips for Finding the Best Flight Deal
-Be as flexible as possible
-Start your search as soon as you can
-However, booking too far in advance can hurt you so (prices can drop). But don’t wait until the last minute because they can go up, too, especially around a holiday.
-Know roughly how much flights generally are between cities
-Know the major airports (major airports are typically cheaper to fly in and out of)
Things to Remember When Booking
Remember to check:
– Weather – is it the ideal weather you would like to travel in?
– If a visa is needed you’ll want to know how easy it will be to get.
– Does it fit your budget?
Western, Central and Northern Europe are typically more expensive than Eastern Europe, Central America, South America and Southeast Asia (not all countries but generally most countries) so even though flights may be cheap but if it’s a more expensive country take into account the cost of your accommodations.
I hope this helps you find the best flight deals! If you found an awesome deal or have something you want to share make sure to comment below!