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For many, finding a reasonably priced flight can be the biggest hurdle to overcome when travel planning. Though, with the right online resources and proper timing, there is no doubt that you can find some incredible flight deals to jet off to your dream vacation.
How to Find Cheap Flights
1. Flight Search Engines –
Unless you are a die-hard miles member of one, specific airlines, save yourself the hassle by searching for flight prices all in one place. Flight search engines can be the biggest time and money saver when it comes to booking flights. Though, I personally recommend using these as a research tool and then booking directly with the airline that offers the best option for your travel needs. Booking direct versus with a third party ensures that you will be taken care of if, God forbid, your flight is canceled or significantly delayed.
The two search engines that I rely on are:
- Google Flights
2. Search on a Private Browser –
When researching for flights, be sure to use a private or incognito browser to prevent cookies from tracking your search trends. This will cause the flight prices to increase as you continue to search for similar dates and destinations. Some will say that this is not proven, but I totally swear by it.
3. Subscribe to Flight Deal Email Lists –
In addition to using search engines, sign up for email lists that announce cheap airline tickets or pricing errors to take advantage of quick deals.
Some of my favorites include:
- Scott’s Cheap Flights
- Travel Pirates
- Airfare Watchdog
4. Sign Up for Frequent Flier Programs –
Sticking to one airline or alliance can really help in the long run. Nearly all airline miles programs are free and allow you to accrue points every time you fly with that airline and their partners. Even better, sign up for the airline’s credit card to take advantage of double or triple point bonuses, as well as the chance to earn points on purchase outside of airline tickets.
I personally love the Delta American Express, since they partner with so many international airlines and have incredible customer service. The gold and platinum card also grant you discounted or free access to their airport lounges.
*That’s a round trip flight to Europe!
5. Have Flexibility with your Dates –
When it comes to planning any of my trips, booking flights is the first thing on my checklist. Why? Because it gives me more flexibility to play around with arrival and departure dates and times. Therefore, there’s a better chance of finding a cheap flight.
6. Search in Other Languages or Currencies –
One of the most recent tips that I discovered is searching in alternate languages and currencies. You will be shocked at the price differences. This doesn’t just relate to flights, but also rental cars.
7. Strategize When to Book –
Typically 6-12 weeks prior to travel is the ideal window to book a flight. Too far ahead or too close to your arrival date, and you may be overpaying. They key is to plan ahead, but don’t not too far ahead.
8. Check Roundtrip Rates for One-Way Flights –
If you are booking a one-way flight, always check the rate of a round trip ticket, as it may actually be cheaper or cost fewer miles. I have had this happen on multiple occasions, and once saved me nearly $500! Though, be sure the flight you’re actually taking is the first leg of the trip, as most airlines will cancel the entire ticket if you miss the first flight.
9. Book Direct when Possible –
OTAs (online travel agencies) don’t always include all of the fees upfront, which is why their rate may be cheaper. Also, if something were to go wrong with your flight, you are the last person the airline is obligated to assist, and you are typically left to deal with the OTA that you purchased the ticket from. Typically, they are not as helpful, nor have the power to change or rebook your flight.