How to Find a Cheap Flight
Gone are the days of cheap flights, right? I mean, with all the hidden fees, it seems next to impossible to find a good deal to get to wherever you want to go, especially when the cost of airfare represents a huge chunk of your travel budget.
Well, I’m going to highlight a few tips & tricks here so you can find a cheap flight.
1. Choosing Your Destination
Life is about being flexible, so be flexible with your destination.
We’re talking about vacations here, not emergencies. Have a few places in mind that you’d like to visit, and be flexible. Take a look at Google Flights. It lets you explore possible destinations, as well as choose your travel dates and search reasonable prices among carriers.
You can also try Kayak. They have an a feature where you can explore destination as well. Just click on “Trip” on the menu. To be honest, it’s very similar to Google. Either way, you can use these tools to find great deals to various destinations.
2. Travel dates: Be Flexible!
Since you’re willing to be flexible with your destination (right?), why not be that way with your travel dates? Believe it or not, airfare prices vary depending on the day of the week or whether or not there is an upcoming holiday (time of the year). Seasons vary as well.
There are many factors influencing air travel. For example, it’s cheaper to fly during the week, rather than the weekend. Also, fly after a holiday, not before. Choose an early morning or late night flight time — fewer people pick these times, because let’s face it, sleep is sometimes more important.
3. Know what you are willing to spend.
Don’t just hope for a specific price. Instead, have a number in your head before you go searching for a flight. Airline prices frequently increase or decrease their fare prices, so what do you feel most comfortable about paying. What is your number?
If the lowest fare you can find is $500 round-trip, when it normally costs double that amount, guess what? That’s as low as it will probably go. More than like, you won’t be able to find it at a better rate.
4. Book early.
This can be a Catch-22, because booking too early might not work out well in your favor. Usually the sweet spot is to book a flight is 6-8 eights before you want to leave, unless you want to travel to Asia. If that’s your destination, check out airfare 3 to 4 months in advance. If you do, you can save a nice chunk of change.
I think it goes without saying, but don’t book your trip at the last minute if you can avoid it. I know, I know … sometimes, we just gotta get out of town to save our sanity. But, paying too much might make you a little crazy, too. Amirite?
5. Sign up for a frequent flyer program.
Airlines usually offer their own program and you can sign up on their websites. However, you can even sign up for a credit card and earn miles while you ship. Some credit cards offer miles right off the bat — just for signing up. For example, I signed up for a Frontier Airlines card and got 40,000 miles, which gives me 2 round-trip tickets to use anywhere they fly.
6. Try a different route.
You know the old saying: All roads lead to Rome. Guess what? There’s more than one way to get to where you want to go. Also, use more than one airline. Nobody says you have to use just one to get where you’re going.
7. Fly with inexpensive carriers.
This isn’t a plug, nor am I getting paid for this, but Frontier Airlines has great prices. Of course, you sacrifice comfort, because their seats make you feel like you’re sitting on milk crates, especially on longer distances. Shorter flights aren’t so bad. So, if you’re willing to sacrifice a little comfort (or crushing your kneecaps on the seat in front of you), then you can get a great deal.
A word to wise: If you fly with Frontier, makes sure you pick the first row when selecting your seat. There’s more leg room, and you won’t be practically falling in anyone else’s lap when you need to use the restroom.
8. Join a mailing list.
You hate clutter in your inbox? Me too! However, maybe joining a mailing list from an airline carriers might not be so bad. Why? Well, they often offer discounts and last-minute deals to those who subscribe. Just put in your email address, and before you know it, you’ll be receiving exclusive offers just for signing up.
9. Not all search engines are equal.
Did you know that some sites like Expedia and Orbitz actually work with or are owned by airline companies? Also, sometimes these sites don’t offer budget carriers. I use either Google Flights, or even better, I’ll go to each airlines website and check prices.
Don’t just settle for the first deal you think is great! Look around, because you might find it a little cheaper with someone else. It pays to shop around, and your wallet (and 401K) will thank you.
10. Are you a student?
If you’re are, then take advantage of the discounts some carriers offer. All you have to do is ask, and the worst they can say is, “No!” But, more than likely, they’ll give you a little somethin’ somethin’.
Sometimes, looking for a great deal within your budget takes a little work. But, I always find that by planning my vacation, and putting in some extra elbow grease to pay less, makes things more enjoyable. Besides, I also have bragging rights. So, when the person next to me says they got a great deal on their vacation, only paying a few thousand dollars, I laugh to myself, knowing I paid a lot less.