The Ultimate Guide To Finding Cheap Flights To Anywhere

10 minute read

cheap flights to anywhere

Contents

  1. Intro

  2. How to find cheap flights

  3. How to use Google Flights

  4. How to use Momondo and Skyscanner

  5. The best time to book cheap flights

  6. How to find cheap multi-city flights

  7. Finding error fares

  8. Hidden City airfare ticketing

  9. Best flight deals

1. Intro

Long-time members of Jack’s Flight Club will already be quite aware of the process of finding and booking cheap flights. There are numerous tricks that we use to scour the web and pull out the very cheapest flights out there, allowing us to spot & share gems like flights to Hawaii at £289 return or £248 return to Tokyo. Together with our team of flight hackers, I’ve put together this ultimate guide to finding cheap flights to anywhere , so now you’ll be able to find very the best flight deals too.

2. How to find cheap flights

To start with you’re going to want to familiarise yourself with the various flight booking tools available to you. Each tool has its pros and cons when it comes to finding cheap flights. Some are great for finding suitable travel dates and applying filters, while other are more suited for unearthing error fares and grabbing the cheapest possible price.

We’ve broken down commonly used tools below by their strengths in each of these areas. Saves you the time of finding these out via trial and error 🙂

Budget airlines

Budget airlines are probably your first thought when it comes to really cheap flights to anywhere but to areas of Europe in particular. It’s their USP after all and everything they offer is tailored for the thrifty traveller. The flights themselves aren’t often the problem when it comes to keeping costs down however, it’s the added extras and up-sells that budget airlines throw in during the checkout process.

Budget airline tip 1: If you have to take hold luggage then try and share with your travel partner

Budget airline tip 2: Kayak & Google Flights allow you to incorporate cost of baggage into your search queries

Budget airline tip 3: For long haul travel, you can sometimes grab all-inclusive flex category fares for much  less when booking with certain Online Travel Agents (OTAs), even though the base fare is cheapest when booking directly with the airline

3. How to use Google flights to find cheap flights

What is Google Flights?

Google Flights is one of our go to flight aggregator tools. It hosts a vast array of routes offered by the majority of airlines from around the world. Its flexible search functionality and calendar tool means it should probably be your first point of call when trying to separate the cheapest flights from the rest.

The advantages of using Google Flights

Google Flights boasts and impressive price calendar tool that allows you to identify, within seconds, the cheapest travel dates in the next 6 months or so to any destination.

You’ll see in the above image that you are able to use its calendar function to bring up prices for flights for a one week trip to anywhere in the next 6 months or so.  You can then go a step further and filter out multi-stop flights and airlines in the top right hand corner.

Once you’ve settled on a location the ability to amend and filter doesn’t stop there.

You’ll notice a host of filtering options that you can use to further refine your trip specification. A useful recent addition to this includes the ability to add a carry on bag, this will update the prices to show a more realistic end cost, which can often be far different to original prices shown on the likes of Ryanair.

Had a bad experience with a particular airline in the past? Not to worry, Google Flights allows you to exclude results from particular airlines during this phase of your research process.

Here’s a complete guide on how to use Google Flights that we’ve put together should you want to perfect your bargain hunting.

4. How to use Momondo & Skyscanner

What’s the difference between Momondo and Skyscanner?

Although Momondo is perhaps less well known compared to Skyscanner it’s an equally  powerful flight comparison tool. The main difference is that Momondo displays a greater volume of results that go beyond just airlines to include results from trusted online travel agents too.

How to use Momondo & Skyscanner  to find cheap flights

Once you’ve used the Google Flights calendar tool to find your ideal travel dates, go over to Momondo or Skyscanner and input the exact dates for your trip.

Momondo will bring up the cheapest fares for your travel dates. It will also bring up multiple OTA’s and airlines so you can take your pick by clicking the arrow next to ‘View Deal’ and then clicking on +17 more, in this example. OTA’s can be £30-£40 cheaper and sometimes hundreds of pounds cheaper than booking direct with the airlines, so they can be a great way to shave off some of your flight costs.

Note: there are also downsides to using OTAs, so make sure to weight those against the savings.

Skyscanner is an extremely intuitive and user friendly tool. Similar to Momondo you can input your destination and dates (It’s useful to select ‘whole month’) and it will bring up the cheapest  fares for each day of that month. You can also add a direct flight filter to this.

Once you have selected your dates Skyscanner will take you to a more detailed page that contains all the flights available, the prices and the airlines. You can book via the airline site from the links provided on this page.

5. The best time to book cheap flights

Is there a best time?

The way airlines price their flights means that it’s very difficult to predict when flights to any particular destination will come down in price. Most airlines use advanced analytics to estimate how many seats need to be sold on each route to maintain levels of profitability. They then predict the dates of which these targets need to be hit. Targets are ongoing and flexible, so if a flight hits a certain date and is undersold, prices are likely to drop. Similarly, if a certain target date is hit and the ticket sales are on track or exceeding expectations then prices will rise.

So in order to predict the best time to book cheap flights you would need to have access to historical data on route targets and the previous volume of tickets sold by date, which you just won’t be able to get hold of.  Having said this, there are certain seasonal trends that correlate with peak/off peak seasons or country based events that allow us to at least give some insight into the optimum time to book flights.

6. How to find Cheap Multi-City Flights

The way airlines price their flights means that it can often be just as cost effective (Flight wise) to visit two or more destinations on your trip. Meaning you can explore more than one destination and it won’t affect the price you are paying for your flight. In fact, airlines sometimes look to boost local tourism and give discounts on fares if you make your layover 12 hours+, perfect if you’re looking to book a cheap multi-city flight.

There are two types of cheap-multi stop flights

1. Extended layover

2. Multi-destination hopper flight

Extended layovers involves adding a free stop en-route to your final destination. Here are some airlines that often offer free or low-cost stopovers:

  • Turkish Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • KLM
  • Air France
  • Qatar Airways
  • TAP Portugal
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Etihad
  • Emirates
  • United Airlines
  • China Southern
  • Air China
  • China Eastern

How to find an cheap extended layover flight

1. Search for a return flight to your destination in Google Flights

2. Look for the airlines listed above that show long layover options

3. Change your journey to ‘multi city’ as shown below. This splits your flights up into individual journeys but keeps prices the same

Multi-city destination hopper

If you’re looking at visiting multiple destinations on your travels then often the cheapest way to do so is to book a multi-stop trip with the same airline, or at least the same airline alliance. If your destinations are geographically quite close together however, it may be cheaper to book multiple flights with regional providers, which we will go into later.  

Note – The cumulative cost of your trip is dependant on your furthest destination and how many stops are in between

How to find cheap multi-city destination hopper flights

1. Use the Google flights calendar tool and research when it’s cheapest to fly to your furthest destination

2. Filter your results on Google Flights so it’s only showing the airline that showed the cheapest result.

3. Find that airlines common hub in the region you are travelling in e.g. In Asia many of Emirates flights go through Dubai

4. Open up a new tab and do a regional search from your hub airport to your region e.g. Dubai to South East Asia. Ensure your chosen airline only is filter is selected. The map should bring up suitable destinations you can choose from

5. Choose a place you would like to visit and change your search into a multi-city itinerary, add in your first location as your first stop and furthest destination as your second.

6. Rinse and repeat, adding destinations in as you go (Prices will vary until you add your return trip)

7.Book through provided links or cross check the same plan on Momondo or Skyscanner to see if you can get a cheaper price

7. Finding error fares

An error fare is quite simply a mistake that’s occurred when systems are pricing up flights. With such a high volume of flights and information that goes along with them, it’s not surprising that occasionally errors are made. Here’s some more information on error fares and what to do if you find one.

Types of error fares

Online travel agent glitch: This happens when an OTA has published a fare that is considerably different to that of the airline fare price.

Currency conversion error: This happens when the price of a flight in a particular currency is much lower than that of the same fare in other currencies. These likely occur due to an error in the currency conversion process.

Human error: A manual entry mistake by an employee

Fare class error: When an airline or an online travel agent allow you to book a higher class ticket for less than a lower class fare.

“Error fares can be cancelled but based on our experience, 70% of error fares are honoured by the airline”

What to do if you find one

8. Hidden city airfare ticketing

What is Hidden City ticketing?

A hidden city ticket is when a traveller purchases a ticket that includes a stop before their final destination, but they don’t continue on to their final leg of the trip, instead they finish on their second destination and don’t board the final flight.

This is a successful cheap flight tactic because direct routes are always in more demand than journeys with multiple stops. Airlines price those direct flights in accordance with their usual demand. Where as multi-stop flights will often have more competition, mostly provided by local airlines, thus driving some of the prices down.

As you can imagine, airlines aren’t particularly big fans of this tactic but it is in fact completely legal for a traveller to skip the last leg of their trips.

Note – All legs of your trip are cancelled once you fail to board one of your flights, so ensure you are doing this on the return leg. It’s also important to note that it’s not a good idea to bring hold baggage back with you as these will usually get checked onto your final flight (That you’ve decided not to take) automatically.

9. Best flight deals

What does a good flight deal look like?

We’ve compiled a list of average air fares to popular destinations vs cheap fares that we’ve found in the past. This way you’ll know what’s a good deal and what isn’t.

London to Cancun return – £354. Standard fare £650

London to Phuket return – £334. Standard fare £650

Birmingham to Sri Lanka return – £364. Standard fare £650

Manchester to Morocco return – £61. Standard fare £150+

London to Cape Town return – £379. Standard fare £700

Return London to New York return – £208. Standard fares £550+

Manchester to Hong Kong return – £381. Standard £750

Note – these are not set guidelines to cheap flight deals, what is and isn’t a good deal varies by airline, route and what other aspects are included in the price.

. . .

Not yet a member of Jack’s Flight Club? It’s free to join and we’ll send you one or two ridiculously cheap flight deals each week. Our members have saved an estimated £20 million on airfare in the last 12 months! Click here to find out more

If you still have more questions, feel free to drop me a message on [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help.

 

Jack Sheldon

Jack Sheldon is founder and chief flight searcher at Jack's Flight Club. Jack has visited 56 countries to date and currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. His favourite things are error fares, but he also enjoys a good audiobook, fresh squeezed OJ, and surfing (though he's not all that good at it). Jack also writes about cheap flights for the Independent.