How to Find Cheap Flights in 5 Steps

Grant KennedyGuides, Travel1 Comment

how to find a cheap flight

 

How To Find Cheap Flights So You Never Have to Spend Another Vacation At Home.

Ever wonder how some people can fly around the world and still have money to do fun stuff? If so, this article is for you. In this article, I am going to show you how to find cheap flights so you can save hundreds of dollars on your next trip.

In this article, I am going to give you the tools and tricks I use to find super cheap flights so you can save hundreds of dollars on your next trip. If you’d just like little hacks to save money rather than a full tutorial, skip to the bottom of the page.

Step 1: Use the Right Tools

Finding a cheap flight is no different than any other project. You need the right tools for the job.

In this case, you’ll need the best search engines for flights. No search engine is perfect so you are going to use all of these in concert with each other. Here they are:

Skyscanner

Momondo

STA Travel

Google Flights

I’m always on the look out for cheap flights and often try out the newest tools but to this day, I still find these to be the best.

Now that you have the right tools, you’re almost ready to start your search. Before you begin, though, it will be useful to set your top line and bottom line prices. Your top line is your ideal price. Something cheap but realistic. $100 from Detroit to London? Not likely. $300 RT to London? That is attainable.

After you decide your top line, choose your bottom line. This is the most you’ll pay for a plane ticket to your target destination. If you’ve already budgeted a certain amount for your flights, use that amount for your bottom line.

As long as the price falls between these two numbers, you can consider it a win.

Note: If you just want to go somewhere and aren’t picky, try following Secret Flying and The Points Guy on Twitter. They frequently post amazing, limited-time-only travel deals. 

Step 2: Start Your Search

Open up each of the above sites in a new tab. If you click on the links, they will open in a new tab for you automatically.

On each site, plug in your travel dates, your destination, the airport you are departing from and hit search. (I know you know this but I promised you a step-by-step guide.)

Right away you’re going to have a ton of options. Lots of the flights will be the same so what you are looking for are the outliers, the deals that are unique to each platform. It’s entirely possible that you find a cheap flight that meets your needs at this point. If not, or you want to find a cheaper one, continue on to the next step.

Step 3: Start Tweaking  (No, not that kind of tweaking.)

Think of 2 or 3 other airports near the one you are departing from. Using Detroit as an example, there are Windsor, Ontario; Toledo, Ohio; and Chicago. Grand Rapids would also be a viable candidate depending on where you live in Michigan. I saved $250 by flying out of Windsor to Tokyo rather than flying out of Detroit. (Thank you, Air Canada.)

How to Find Cheap Flights

Check for Nearby Airports. A little flexibility goes a long way. Screen shot from Momondo.

Now run a search on your list of nearby alternative airports while keeping all the other details the same. Find any good deals?

Step 4: Keep Tweaking

(Coincidentally, also the title of my future pep talk for meth addicts.)

Repeat the above process for your destination as well. Remember: Most countries have very affordable and convenient mass transit, as well as regional budget airlines. If you fly into Munich, and your destination is Berlin, you may be able to save $200 by taking a train/bus or Ryanair flight the rest of the way, for a net savings of $150… or with the exchange rate: 20 bratwursts.

Play around the dates and locations until you find one that you like. Finding cheap flights is a pretty easy. It just requires some flexibility and some patience.

Step 5: Buy Your Ticket

I know I didn’t need to add this last step. I’m just being a goof. Check out the tips below, though. They are definitely worthwhile.

Now here are some other tricks to help maximize your savings and/or comfort:

  • Book International flights on Tuesdays around 15:00 (3:00 PM). This is the period when all of the travel deals will have been dispersed to the public.
  • Only pack a carry-on bag. Flying with only a carry-on can save you time and money. It’ll save you time by not having to wait in baggage claim. It’ll save you money by allowing you to fly budget airlines without having to pay hefty fees for checked baggage.
  • Fly during the offseason. This changes from country to country because of holidays, climate, etc. so do a bit of research.
  • Changing the day you fly out can save you a lot of money. Be Flexible.
  • Avoid Flying on weekends. They are the most expensive.
  • Sign up for mileage programs for every airline you use. Lot’s of perks for free like boarding early and choosing what kind of meal you’d like.
  • Don’t fly with American carriers, if possible. Try to fly with foreign airlines. American carriers treat passengers like freight. You deserve to be treated like a guest. Fly foreign. My favorites are Turkish Airlines and Cathay Pacific. JAL comes in a close 2nd.