How To Find Cheap Flights

6 minute read

How to find cheap flights

With most products and services, the shopping experience is fairly standard, you tend to get what you want for a similar price to everyone else buying it. If only purchasing flight tickets was that simple. Sit yourself down on any airplane and there’s a pretty high chance the person sat next to you has paid a wildly different price to you. This is largely to do with the supply and demand pricing systems that airlines use. Here’s our insider take on how to find cheap flights.

Where should you look to find cheap flights?

Anywhere and everywhere! Obviously, flight comparison sites are the best place to start your investigations. Skyscanner and Momondo are both efficient and easy to use, and their policy dictates that flights must be available at the prices the airlines provide them with. If Skyscanner is showing it, that fare will be available. Things change quickly though of course, and so good prices should be jumped on if they seem especially cheap.

As Skyscanner and Momondo look at not just the prices from airlines but also from travel agents they are pretty comprehensive and will throw up the best rates. The downside is that they can be a bit time consuming, and aren’t great for finding cheap dates if you’re flexible on that front. Here though, Google Flights can be useful, as routes and fares can be easily looked through with a calendar-style approach to dates and prices available. Various filters are available to make searches more appropriate to requirements, but Google Flights doesn’t have the same depth in its searches as Skyscanner and Momondo. Using them to complement each other is recommended in order to be able to find the cheapest flights. 

It’s also, of course, a fantastic idea to keep your eyes and ears open to any special offers and deals that may be around or sign up to JFC and get those deals delivered to your inbox for free 🙂

You should try and stay flexible

Not only is flexibility on times needed in order for you to secure the best fares, being flexible on other logistics helps a lot too. Decide where you want to go then do a little personal research. Perhaps there is more than one airport? Often it can be significantly cheaper to fly to one than the other, especially if one is located in an inconvenient location. Factor in the cost of local transport and you may still be looking at a lesser price. It may even be an option to fly to an airport in another town or city entirely and then travel on.

Know how to handle budget airlines

Making your way through the booking process of a budget airline can sometimes be a frustrating process; the price you see at the beginning of the booking is very rarely the price you end up paying, and being aware of this is important as it makes it harder to find cheap flights. Upsells vary from airline or airline and are always altering. If two or more people are booking it is common practice to allocate them separate seats unless they wish to pay to sit together. Whether you need to do this and feel it’s worth the extra money is entirely up to you! Baggage allowances are also changing regularly, with airlines now not allowing cabin luggage that isn’t defined as a “small personal bag”.  It may be more cost-effective to take part in any ‘priority boarding’ schemes offered that contain checked luggage as part of the deal, rather than paying separately. Priority schemes such as Ryanair’s are capped however in terms of numbers of passengers that can use them, so getting in early is wise. Also, be very aware of check-in charges and check-in dates. Missing these, or failing to print boarding cards, can be very costly.

Look for error fares

We all make mistakes, and airlines are no exception! The great thing is that if you can find their mistakes, you’re on your way to finding a cheap flight. Human error, currency conversion miscalculations and failure to add on fees and fuel surcharges are all factors in flights being priced wrongly. The best way to find out about them is simply to look for them…or to join our club of course. Any abnormalities in pricing are usually picked up by Skyscanner searches or specialist sites, and we’ve got a full guide on error fares here to help you. Error fares are usually honoured, but in the rare instances that they’re not refunds will be given. It is wise however to wait until this is confirmed before booking anything non-refundable, such as hotels

Does booking separate connecting flights work?

We’ve almost never seen it be cheaper to book separate connecting flights than book direct. For example, booking London to Dubai then Dubai to Bangkok would not be cheaper than a direct long haul route. Where the connecting flights tactic does work is when you utilise regional flight providers to make the final leg of your trip. For example, flying London to Bangkok then finding a cheap regional flight deal from there to Cambodia (If that was your destination). This process also applies to South America and Australia/New Zealand or California & Hawaii.

Don’t be fooled by flight booking myths!

There are quite a few myths around on how to find cheap flights! Here are the major ones you’ll probably encounter:

Myth: Flights have the best prices on certain days

While flights are cheaper on certain days of the week (often it’s cheaper to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday than a weekend) there is no best time or day to book. Prices change often, and the only time to really consider is when sales start.

Myth: Travel agents always charge more

Simply not true at all. Travel agents, even those visited in person, often have their own ways of finding cheap flights. They’re experts after all, and know booking systems very well. It may be that booking on to some sort of package deal can result in savings, or that they know of their own ways to break up journeys to make it cheaper. Many also have price guarantees, meaning that they will make special efforts to be cheaper than rivals.

Myth: Booking direct from airlines is cheaper

Going directly to airlines to book tickets is often cited as the best way to find cheap flights, but isn’t actually true. Airlines use other websites to sell through, and travel agencies often bulk-buy tickets in order to secure discounts for themselves.

Myth: Clearing cookies and not searching often reduces prices

A common belief is that by clearing all cookies and not checking sites often is productive, due to sites recognising you are interested in a flight and raising their prices accordingly. Many tests have been undertaken to assess the validity of this, all of which have come back with the same conclusion: clearing cookies makes no difference. Repeated searches seem to be irrelevant too, with suggestions that the opposite is true as most people get tired of waiting and looking and simply book their flight whatever the cost.

We’ve put together an ultimate guide on finding cheap flights to anywhere should you be interested in finding out more 🙂

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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 top cheap flights nerd at Jack's Flight Club. Having travelled to 56 countries to date, he currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. His favourite things in life 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.

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