We’ve all gone through the aggravating process of attempting to find the cheapest airfares to any particular location. Michel Diaz Suarez believes that the approach to cheap airline booking is daunting, with infinite search engines and constantly varying costs. When planning your next ticket, here are some helpful hints that will save you time, frustration, and, most importantly, money.
Michel Diaz Suarez Tips
Don’t forget to check out our other posts on How to Find Airline Mistake Fares, How to Get Free Extended Layovers to Split a Trip in Half, and Round the World Tickets: The Ultimate Guide!
1. KEEP YOUR RESEARCH A SECRET.
You’re not insane if you think the price of a flight has changed after looking for it several times on your browser. Travel costs actually increase when a certain route is regularly searched, based on cookies in your browser, as the site aims to scare you into buying the flight immediately before prices go even higher. To find the best fares, always search for flights in incognito or private browser mode.
In Google Chrome or Safari, click Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “N” to enable incognito mode. Press Command (or “Control” on a PC), Shift, “P” to open Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. This will create a separate browser window where your data will not be monitored, and prices will not be inflated as you search. Note: If you’re using an older version of OS X, launch Safari, then select “Private Browsing” from the menu bar.
When you re-open an incognito window, your cookies are reset. Close all your incognito windows, open a new one, and then do your flight search.
2. USE THE BEST FLIGHT SEARCH INSTRUCTIONS
As part of collecting a cut from the airlines, all search engines have exaggerated flight costs. Some search engines (for example, Expedia) exaggerate prices substantially more than others (listed below). It’s a good idea to get to know the sites that provide the best deals.
BOOK WITH THESE.
(Our first choice) Skyscanner
Scott’s Cheap Flights (see tip #6) (masters in finding sale and mistake fares).
Exclusively for readers of Thrifty Nomads: TNOMADS20 will save you 20% on your first year of premium membership.
Momondo is a social media platform that connects (a broad search engine that sometimes shows cheaper fares than Skyscanner)
AirWander (allows you to turn layovers into stopovers, allowing you to visit two different places in one trip – see tip #7)
JetRadar (includes cheap airlines, which aren’t included in many search engines)
Google Flights (useful tool for rapidly comparing travel dates – costs aren’t always the greatest)
Most low-cost airlines will now show in the broad search engines we suggest as of 2020. (but NOT Southwest). If you want to be absolutely certain, perform a second search for regional budget airlines (we’ve included as many as we know lower down).
Finally, no single search engine is flawless all of the time according to Michel Diaz Suarez (though we typically find the cheapest price on Skyscanner or Momondo). As a result, you may need to use many search engines to guarantee you don’t miss any results. There doesn’t appear to be one that consistently finds the lowest flight.
3. FIND THE CHEAPEST DAY TO TRAVEL.
While there are numerous beliefs about booking on a Tuesday to save money, the truth is that there is no consistent truth about which days are the cheapest to travel. It is usually cheaper to travel on a weekday, although this is not always the case. The best technique is to get a brief snapshot of rates for the entire month to discover which days are the cheapest for your particular route. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Go to the Skyscanner website or get the Skyscanner app.
Step 2: Enter the cities of your departure and arrival.
Step 3: Choose “one-way” (even if you’re traveling round trip; you’re only looking for the cheapest days to fly out first).
Step 4: On a computer, click “Depart,” but instead of inputting a date, choose “Whole Month,” then “Cheapest Month” to discover which dates are the cheapest. To simply check which day is the cheapest, click “Search flights.”
In the app for mobile devices: Change the display to “Chart” after tapping the departure date. To locate the cheapest date, simply swipe left and right, and press on one of the bars to view the pricing.
If necessary, repeat these instructions for your return flight. You can still plan a round trip in one booking, but by going through these steps first, you’ll be able to determine which days are normally less expensive to fly in and out on for your round trip.
Michel Diaz Suarez thinks Kiwi.com and Google Flights are similar to Skyscanner, but they also have map views so you can see where the airport is located. Hopper also offers pricing research and tracking variations to help you figure out when and where it’s cheapest to travel (i.e. when is best to fly).
4. GET FREE AIRLINE TICKETS WITH POINTS
The cheapest flight is free, and the most convenient method to do so is using points. If you don’t have any, don’t worry: signing up for just one travel rewards credit card and spending the required minimum will net you a significant points bonus, which is frequently enough to get you a free flight!
You may sign up for an airline rewards card to earn points with a specific airline or a more general travel rewards card to redeem points with many airlines. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a good starter card. After spending $4,000 in the first three months after creating your account, you can earn up to 60,000 extra points. When redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards, that’s worth $750, which is more than enough for an overseas journey. It’s the ideal all-rounder travel credit card because it offers trip cancellation insurance, vehicle rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage insurance, and no foreign transaction fees. This card may be compared to other top credit cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED CARD CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED CARD
After spending $4,000 in the first three months, you’ll receive 60,000 reward points (worth $750).
An annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit of $50 is available.
Purchases on Chase Ultimate Rewards earn 5 points per dollar spent, 3 points per dollar spent on eating, and 2 points per dollar spent on all other travel purchases.
Trip cancellation/interruption insurance, vehicle rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage insurance, and other benefits are included.
You may use your reward points to join some of the most popular airline and hotel loyalty programs.
There are no costs for international transactions.
The cost is $95 per year.
Do you run your own company? Instead, try the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which offers a massive 100,000 extra points once you spend $15,000 within the first three months of account setup. Through Chase Ultimate Rewards, that’s worth $1250. You’ll also get 3 points for every dollar spent in specified business purchase categories over $150,000 per year, and 1 point for every dollar spent on anything else. Learn how to fill out an application.
We encourage that you use your card for everyday transactions and treat it like currency, paying off your debt each month with the money you have in the bank. You won’t have to pay interest this way, and you’ll practically get your points for free!
5. BUDGET-FRIENDLY AIRLINES
Budget airlines sell tickets at a fraction of the price of full-service flights. It should go without saying, but this comes with trade-offs like reduced leg room and no “free” food or drink on board (which by the way, is normally covered in your higher-priced ticket with full-service airlines).
If you’re thinking of flying cheap, which we think is a terrific way to save money, I’d definitely recommend reading our post on 7 Budget Airlines Must-Know Facts.
A thorough list of low-cost airlines from across the world is provided below. Where budget airlines don’t exist or aren’t numerous, red denotes actual budget airlines, whereas blue denotes the lowest businesses accessible.
However, first… A WARNING ABOUT BOOKING CHEAP AIRLINES. Always read the small print and take the following precautions:
Make sure your baggage allowance has been booked and paid for. Follow the weight, height, and number of bags authorized limits. If you’re above, certain airlines (such as Ryanair) may charge you a high price. Remember that budget airlines maintain their pricing cheaper than regular airlines by charging just for the precise amount of luggage space/weight you require!
Pay attention to the small print. Ryanair, for example, will charge a €/£55 AIRPORT CHECK-IN FEE if you do not check-in online and print your boarding card, or use their mobile boarding pass. In the first phrase of your e-confirmation, this cost is clearly indicated in all capital letters. In a nutshell, read and obey directions at all times!
Remember to be flexible, do your homework, and be aware of the budget airline’s rules and constraints if you want to book the lowest flight feasible (not the service-of-the-year-award-winner).
Swoop Flair Airlines is a low-cost airline that flies to
Rouge Air Canada
WOW Air (affordable flights from Toronto/Montreal to Europe). Currently unavailable, but expected to reopen shortly.)
Spirit Airlines is a low-cost carrier based (cheap flights from Niagara Falls and Plattsburgh which are just across the border)
Porter Air Transat is a Canadian airline (often has some of the cheapest international flights, especially to sunny beach destinations)
UNITED STATES Southwest (consider their credit card, which includes a Companion Pass (every time you fly, your companion does as well) and 30,000 extra points after spending $5,000 in the first three months.)
Allegiant Air Frontier is a low-cost airline based in the United
Spirit Airlines is a low-cost carrier based
Sun Country Airlines is a low-cost carrier based in
WOW Air is a company that specializes on providing (cheap flights to Europe)
Air Asia is a low-cost airline based
NEW ZEALAND (NZ)
Jetstar Air New Zealand is a New Zealand airline.
Air Asia is a low-cost airline based
Tiger Air is a low-cost airline based
Jeju Air is a Korean airline based in Jeju
Scoot Jetstar Hong Kong Express (owned by Singapore Airlines)
Air Dragon Peach Peach Peach Peach Peach Peach Peach Peach Pe Jet
Spring Airlines is a low-cost airline based
Vietnam Airlines is a Vietnamese airline that flies
T’Way Airlines, Nok Air
EUROPE VANILLA AIR
Iberia Express is a train that travels through Spain.
Aer Lingus is a British airline.
Wow Air Eurowings is an airline based in Europe.
Norwegian Air (affordable flights between Europe and North America)
Wizz Air is a low-cost airline based in
Start stalking these airlines if you’re planning a trip to any of these locations. To be informed about offers before they sell out, follow cheap airline websites on Twitter, Facebook, or check their websites on a regular basis. Regular discounts are especially favorable on Air Asia, Jetstar, Tiger Air, and Ryanair.
Many of these low-cost carriers have their own airline rewards credit cards, and the majority of them give a significant sign-up bonus. For example, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card from Chase comes with a Companion Pass (every time you fly, your companion goes with you) and 30,000 additional points if you spend the required amount in the first three months. For most individuals, however, a general travel rewards credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, is the ideal option, since you can use your points on a number of airlines and hotels. Michel Diaz Suarez says After spending $4,000 in the first three months of your account, you’ll earn 60,000 bonus points worth $750 from Chase Ultimate Rewards, and the card has no international transaction fees. This card may be compared to other travel cards here.
On a related point, Wikipedia offers a more complete, comprehensive listing of low-cost airlines down to individual nations here, however their definition of “low-cost” is controversial. Still, if you’re traveling to a certain nation, it’s a good idea to double-check so you’re aware of all your possibilities.
Scott’s Cheap Flights 6. SEARCH FOR AIRLINE ERROR AND SALE FARES
When airlines announce their rates, they sometimes make errors, resulting in heavily reduced trips. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including currency conversion errors, technological issues, or human mistake. You can save hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket if you know where to look for airline error fares.
Scott’s Cheap Flights (or Jack’s Flight Club if you’re in the UK) is one of the most popular sites for tracking bargain and error fares. Every day, a professional crew searches the internet for flight offers for the website. Simply create an account and enter your departure airport to begin receiving flight deals in your inbox. There’s also a premium account for $49/year (with a 20% discount if you use the code TNOMADS20), which gets you access to even more airline bargains at even lower prices. Members save an average of $550 each ticket, so it’s definitely worth the investment!
Other tools to stalk for spotting mistake and discount prices are Airfarewatchdog, Kiwi.com Deals, and Secret Flying, which aggregate cut ticket rates together in one place. You can also read our comprehensive how-to guide, which explains how to locate error fares on your own. One excellent strategy is to use Skyscanner to look for flights for a whole month (Tip #3 in this post). This will make it easy for you to detect a considerably decreased ticket compared to what’s posted that month, and it’s already helped us spot incorrect pricing twice.
7. SAVE MONEY BY BOOKING CONNECTING FLIGHTS ON YOUR OWN.
Consider booking these two legs individually by adding another destination to your journey if you’re traveling someplace that requires a transfer, such as from Canada to Australia, which normally includes Canada to LA, then LA to Australia. It should go without saying that you should avoid booking tight layovers when doing so. Do not schedule layovers that are more than an hour apart! This option is for people who wish to add a few days or more to their trip before boarding their next flight. The one exception is when buying through Kiwi.com, which provides its own guarantee on connecting flights, even if they are not with the same partner airline.
First, do your homework: are there any inexpensive airlines specific to the country from where you’re departing and the destination? When travelling back from Australia to Canada earlier this year, we saved over $400 each by booking with a discount Australian airline (Jetstar) from Sydney to Honolulu, then an American carrier from Honolulu to Montreal. This allowed us to plan a cost-effective five-day layover in Hawaii on our way back, which was less exhausting and far less expensive! Kiwi.com and AirWander are also excellent search engines for locating cheaper multi-airline flights like this.
You may even create your own multi-day layovers, basically letting you to visit two different places for the price of one. Rather than spending a day in the airport, you might spend many days enjoying the place where you are stopping. AirWander is a customized search engine that allows you to do just that. Enter your starting point, ending point, and the number of days you wish to spend in transit. AirWander can provide you with a selection of locations to visit during your layover, typically at a lower cost than a traditional travel search engine! Read our post on How to Get Free Extended Layovers & Turn One Trip Into Two to understand how to achieve this.
8. FIND THE CHEAPEST FLIGHT OPTION
Kiwi.com is a terrific tool to get the wanderlust going and save some money, whether you know precisely where you’re going or just want to locate the cheapest place to fly into. Go to their website and input your departure city, then choose a flight date range. From your departure point, approximate costs display for hundreds of countries across the world, with the list of destinations sorted by price, allowing you to determine the most cost-effective spot to fly
The way Kiwi.com mixes and matches airlines in order to obtain the best pricing is where it really shines. For example, suppose you wish to go from Washington, DC to Rome, Italy. A conventional flight search engine will only show routes that are offered by a single airline and its affiliates. The cheapest route, according to Expedia, is $631.20 USD via TAP Portugal.
Kiwi.com, on the other hand, will combine airlines (including budget airlines) to get you the most cost-effective flight. This may make a big impact on long-haul flights in particular. The same search on Kiwi.com yields a journey through JetBlue, Norwegian Air, and Vueling for $459.80 USD. That’s a $171.40 USD discount, and the journey duration is even shorter!
Expedia vs. Kiwi flights
Booking an entire vacation with several airlines is often hazardous. Let’s assume your initial trip with JetBlue was delayed, and you missed your Norwegian Air connecting connection. Because the airlines are not affiliated, Norwegian Air is under no duty to reschedule your journey for free, thus you will be out of pocket. Kiwi.com, on the other hand, offers its own guarantee, which covers changes in schedule, flight delays, and cancellations. If you notify Kiwi.com as soon as you become aware of the delay, they will offer you an alternate connecting flight or a full refund, depending on your preference. We haven’t tried this assurance yet, but it sounds like a great method to eliminate the danger of a budget flight hack!
10. THINK ABOUT HIDDEN CITY TICKETS
Example of a Skiplagged
Long ago, travelers discovered a tactic known as “hidden city” flights. In a nutshell, a flight that connects in a place you wish to visit is often less expensive than traveling directly there. So, instead of taking the continuous connection, you purchase that inexpensive aircraft that connects in your preferred location and jump off there.
It should go without saying that this is dangerous for a variety of reasons. Here are some things to think about:
If you check your luggage, it may be transported to your final destination. As a result, with concealed city ticketing, it’s preferable to simply bring carry-on luggage.
It’s possible that you won’t be able to get off the plane (if the same plane is continuing onward to its final destination).
It’s possible that airlines will identify that you didn’t make your connection. The ramifications are difficult to predict, especially since individuals frequently miss planes.
There is now an online search engine that can help you uncover concealed city tickets. Skiplagged is the name of the app, and it was even sued by United Airlines, who were enraged by the hack. We’ve never employed the secret city strategy, but I know a few people who have, and they’ve gotten some great deals. Make use of it at your own peril!