Finding an affordable flight to your chosen destination is an inevitable task that needs to be done, but it can leave you with a serious headache! Probably the most expensive aspect of your trip, it can eat into your budget, leaving you with less money for activities, accommodation and local beers! The way I see it, the less I can spend on flights the better. Below I have compiled my favourite cheap flight finding tricks, tips and websites…
Flight Comparison Sites
An obvious one, but I find some more useful than others. Skyscanner is a classic and is particularly good if you are feeling spontaneous. You can pick your departure airport, the month you want to go, and then set your location as “Everywhere”. It will show you the cheapest countries to fly to in that month, all you have to do is choose. Another user friendly site is Momondo, which is great if you know where you want to go, but are flexible on dates. When you search for a flight, a graph appears at the top of the screen with dates, so you can clearly see if you will make a massive saving by adjusting your departure date. My new favourite though, is Kiwi. Similar to Skyscanner and Momondo, but with 2 distinct advantages that I love. First, the map!
Looking at the example above, lets say I want to go to Colombia, I can see that I will save myself over £100 by flying into Cartagena instead of Bogota. It also works the other way around, by showing you which airport is cheapest to fly out of! If you are flexible then you will find a bargain, as you can also adjust dates. Secondly, it will give you options of creating a 2 or more leg trip with different airlines. Now, that is something you can do yourself, but the problem is you are not covered if, for example, your first flight is delayed and you miss your second. Well, with Kiwi…YOU ARE! So when I recently flew from San Jose, Costa Rica to London Gatwick, with a 4 hour layover in Fort Lauderdale, I took the risk of a short layover, and having to collect and recheck my bags, as I was covered by Kiwi for any delay and bagged my self a flight for under £350!
If you have never heard of error fares, I can guarantee you are about to get addicted to searching for them! I met a guy in a hostel in Manila a few years ago who told me he was flying to Saudi Arabia the next day. I was intrigued, “Why did you chose to go to Saudi Arabia?” I asked. His reply… the flights were $1 each way! And so he introduced me to the world of error fares! How do they happen? Well, human error usually. Frequently, fuel surcharge or tax has not been added to the total, however there are other ways errors occur. The important thing is, if an error occurs, it is the Airlines fault, so they will nearly always honour the ticket if you bought it at the reduced price. It’s important to wait for confirmation BEFORE making any plans though, as occasionally they may cancel your ticket! You can find error fares if you are lucky by just browsing the above comparison flights, but better than that check out websites like fly4free or secretflying and sign up for email alerts. You can also follow them on Facebook, which helps as you need to be fast for error fares!
Best Time to Book?
Now, I am no expert in this but I can tell you what I know about the best time to find cheap flights. Firstly, last minute flights may once have been a way of bagging a bargain but in this day and age it just isn’t true anymore. Think about it, who books a last minute flight? Somebody who urgently needs to be somewhere, and airlines know and take advantage of this by putting prices up nearer the time of the flight (generally, I can’t speak for every airline in the world I suppose!). As a general rule, the earlier you can book, the better, although some believe there is a window around 6 weeks before the flight where it is at it’s cheapest. Fridays are thought to be the most expensive day to fly, with Tuesdays the cheapest, so keep that in mind. As I said, I am no expert but you can certainly do more research if what I have said interests you, there are many in depth articles about it.
Sales and Budget Airlines.
Near enough ever airline has a sale every now and then, and it can be prime time for finding cheap flights. The best way to keep track is by email alert, however if you don’t want hundreds of emails clogging up your inbox, maybe consider making an email account dedicated solely to flight alerts. Usually, you can go on an airlines page and sign up for a newsletter type email. Budget airlines usually do flash sales, meaning you have to be online at the right time but you can usually get yourself an unbelievable bargain if you are quick enough. Ryanair and AirAsia usually do some pretty crazy deals, but watch out for the website crashing! Remember, particularly with budget airlines, check what is included eg. checked luggage, food and also check the small print as with some you have to check in online and you will be hit with a bill at the check in desk if you have not done so!
The Golden Rule
BE FLEXIBLE! On your departure airport, your arrival airport, your dates, airline and layover time. The more of these you are not bothered about, the more cheap flights you are likely to find. The above is really only the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully it has given you a few tips and ideas to get you started!
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