The first thing you need to know is airlines spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to build algorithms made for them to maximize profits literally on each seat of a plane. As fuel prices rise and companies make deals with each other, prices also increase for the consumer, that is if you don’t know how to find cheap flights. Although I love the idea of making a profit, I also like the idea of being able to outsmart the system and save myself a few bucks.
Flying doesn’t need to be expensive; if you look in the right places, airline tickets can often be very cost-effective. We will share our favourite tricks, tricks we use ourselves to book tickets for our trips around the world. We save hundreds of dollars per trip, just because we know when to book, where to book, and how to find these fantastic deals. So how do we save ourselves money and find the cheapest airline tickets available? Find out below.
1. Use the Best Multi-Airline Search Engines to find cheap flights
We don’t want to spend several hours entering our dates, departure and arrival cities into dozens of different company sites. That is just brutal. That’s why we use airfare meta-search engines. They are quick and easy to use and allow you to search through hundreds of airlines with one click. That is why multi-airline search engines are often the best tool for finding the cheapest flights.
1.1 My personal favourite Kiwi.com
I discovered Kiwi about a year ago, and before using Kiwi, I’d go online and look for any meta-search site I could find. That site would have me search through 5-6 other metasearch sites and although this did do the trick. The features that I love so much from Kiwi weren’t available.
Kiwi lets you search whole countries. You can enter in multiple departure countries and many arrivals countries which can be very useful at the end of a trip when you are getting ready to head home and are looking for the cheapest flight available in your vicinity. It can also be useful when you’re looking to fly into a specific region, like Asia. For example, I recently used it to book a flight from Iceland to India. I had no intentions of going to India. My goal was to get to Thailand, which is only a couple of countries over. However, the best prices from Iceland were to go to India then I can hop on a cheap flight from India to Thailand. I’m in no rush, so this works in my favour as India has many beautiful things and it’s just added even more value to my trip as a whole.
Kiwi also lets you see the lowest prices on all the dates when opening the dates field, which is something many airlines don’t let you do and it drives me crazy, because more often than not you can save yourself $50+ just by changing your dates.
There are dozens of other amazing features on the Kiwi.com website, but I won’t go into any additional detail since this post is about all tricks and not just Kiwi.com.
1.2 Skiplagged.com and it’s “hidden-city” rates
I especially recommend using this if you are travelling in North America. Skiplagged.com was sued by United and Orbitz (another meta-search company) because it advertises something airlines do not want us taking advantage of to save money. I’m talking about “hidden-city” rates. An example of a “hidden-city” flight, imagine wanting to fly from New York to Chicago, it might be cheaper to book a trip from New York to Los Angelos with a layover/connection in Chicago. Now instead of getting on your flight from Chicago to Los Angelos, you stay in Chicago and save yourself some money. You can’t check luggage using this trick, but if you don’t have lots of things to take with you, it’s perfect.
1.3 Google Flights
The superpower of the internet known as Google also has a meta-search for flights. It has similar features to Kiwi.com, but I prefer Kiwi.com because Google doesn’t have as many airlines on its meta-search. As Google improves its algorithms, I’m sure it will become better and better. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it.
2. Sign up for Cheap Flight Alerts
While searching for your flight, you can sign up for an alert on the various meta-search sites. The website will then email you to let you know when prices drop so you can buy the cheapest ticket possible. We also recommend subscribing to a few sites that roam the internet looking for deals and can send you emails on deals they find, this can save you time because you don’t even need to do any of the legwork.
Another one that is paid, but highly recommended is ScottsCheapFlights.com. His whole team works day in finding deals on the internet, and they send all the deals right to your email.
3. Join Airline Newsletters
I’m on the newsletter of every airline I’ve used. The reason is that they often send deals for flights through them and I’ve seen sales up to 40% off or more. Imagine an already low-cost airline giving you an additional 40% off. That’s the dream, and it’s a reality, but only if you sign up for their newsletters. You can filter all these newsletter emails to fall into a separate folder in your email inbox so that it doesn’t bother you. Then check them weekly for cheap flight deals.
4. Be flexible on your dates
We’ve had the most success in booking our tickets a minimum of one month of advance and no more than three months for longer international flights. The sweet spot is 6-8 weeks before your trip for booking cheap flights from our experience. You also may want to check flights in the middle of the week and Saturdays since they’re less busy and have fewer passengers, which brings prices down.
Another way to save money (and enjoy your trip more – because there will be fewer tourists) is to travel during the off-season. There are some disadvantages to visiting very touristy places in the off-season such as businesses or restaurants not being open or having fewer items on hand for sale or to eat, but I much prefer being somewhere where no one is, than being somewhere everyone is. In the off-season, pictures are more accessible to take, lines are smaller, and prices are lower. Win-win-win.
5. Check multiple airports, cities, or countries
You may have a location in mind to visit, but sometimes it can save you hundreds of dollars to fly to a nearby destination and then take a bus to where you wanted to go. For example, it can cost only a few dollars to catch an international bus when travelling in Europe. If you fly to a neighbouring country, you can use GoEuro.com to find yourself a cheap bus ride. I’ve discovered bus rides from one city to another within a region for as low as 2 euros and international tickets as little as 10 euros. Why not add another place to your travel plans by flying cheaper, then travelling by bus to the next destination.
6. Book flight legs separately
Often you can find flights that are cheap by booking your trip in separate legs. Let’s say your goal is to get to Romania from Canada; you might look for flights direct from Canada to Romania which will be quite expensive. The smartest way to fly this trip would be to have one flight take you to Western Europe, then book a separate ticket with another airline from Western Europe to Romania. You can look through low-cost airlines in each continent to find the best airlines to use once you’ve arrived. Here’s a link of low-cost airlines.