Probably the biggest dilemma faced by budget travelers is: where can I find cheap flights?
This is a great tool for finding cheap flights that suit you best!
As the very next step, I would run the exact same search (same dates, departure and return points) through Skyscanner.
When you do that, you may find the exact the same deal there. But on many occasions, I was able to find more options at even better prices than the ones I saw initially on Google Flights.
Before I go any further, there is one thing that needs to be addressed. Before you begin searching for affordable flights online. You must have noticed how every time you visit a website to check flight prices, they are higher than what they were only moments ago. This is usually not because the airline raised the price within that short span of time that you were away. But because of the stored cookies in your browser.
Having said that, if you keep searching flights for a week or two there is a good chance that airlines will actually increase the prices.
Always Use a Private/Incognito Window
So how do you deal with the rising flight prices as you continue searching for the right flight?
I suggest you search flights using private browsing or incognito mode – I do that too! Here’s how you can do that:
- To enable incognito mode in Google Chrome or Safari hit Command (Control for PC users), Shift and “N”
- If you use Mozilla or Internet Explorer, hit Command (Control for PC users), Shift and “P”.
The best policy here is to close a private/incognito window after every search and open a new one to run a different search. This way your cookies will not be stored on your system. When you continue searching for a flight using the same dates and points of departure.
There is, however, the possibility that the airline actually increases the fare as it gets closer to the departure date.
I recommend Google Flights and Skyscanner being my top websites for cheap flights.
Other Great Sites for Cheap Flights
Don’t limit your search to just Google Flights and Skyscanner though, especially if you are booking – for example – 2 return tickets to Koh Samui from London.
If the airfare is going to cost you, let’s say, $1,000 – $1,500 for two tickets, then saving a few hundred dollars makes a huge difference. However, if you are booking two tickets to Frankfurt from London – for example – where the total price is around 300 dollars. Searching further in hope to find something cheaper and save around twenty dollars may not be worth the time you spend searching.
To sum up, when searching for long haul flights which are more costly. I recommend you take your searching the internet for the best fares. You can start by comparing the websites I have listed below:
When to fly
I have often wondered about the cheapest day of the week to fly out and there are so many different points of view. In my opinion, Monday is usually the worst day to fly as it is the start of the business week. Therefore airlines are very busy and hence, there is no particular need for discounted fares.
Friday can also be a bad day for flying out. As a majority of the 5-day working week people have no alternatives than a weekend getaway. This of course goes together with the Sunday return.
If you are flexible with your dates, I would suggest searching for fares between Tuesday and Thursday. There are theories suggesting that Tuesdays are the cheapest days to fly, but I have often found this not to be the case.
Generally, there isn’t much difference between these days as long as we are not taking into consideration budget airlines. I will elaborate on Budget Airlines later in the post. It is noteworthy that Google Flights and Skyscanner both offer a whole calendar month view. Through which you can easily compare prices on any given day of the month.
Be Flexible With Your Destination
I do realize that this is often impossible, but you will be surprised how this can dramatically change your airfare.
A while ago I was searching for a flight to Melbourne, Australia from London – as I find London to be one of the cheapest departure points in Europe. I found a great fare from London to Melbourne but decided to compare this fare to alternative arrival ports such as Brisbane, Sydney, or Perth.
Surprisingly, the airfare from London to Perth was much cheaper – it had a long stop-over in Bangkok but that did not bother me.
I searched for a flight from Perth to Melbourne with Jetstar – Australia’s budget airline – and ended up saving several hundred dollars on each ticket. I had to purchase three tickets at that time; you can imagine the smile on my face from all the money I saved!
Cheap Flights with Budget Airlines
This brings me to the topic of budget airlines. There are many people who are skeptical of using budget airlines because they feel it’s a greater risk than flying the regular (full-service) airlines.
The truth is that budget airlines are just as safe as the regular airlines. If you are looking for cheap flights then you cannot go past budget airlines.
There are some drawbacks like lack of comfort, limited baggage allowance, no meals/drinks included in the price of the ticket, but when you consider the money you save, it really pays to take advantage of budget airlines whenever possible.
Budget airlines are for shorter flights, where most destinations can be reached in about two to four hours.
I personally don’t care so much for all the comfort and the food on shorter flights. I also don’t have any luggage expectations as I usually travel with a carry-on, which in most cases is free.
Airport locations and Budget Airlines
Another important factor to consider is that budget airlines don’t always land at the main airport of a particular city. Consequently, you may need to consider a bus or a train connection to the main city from the airport.
For example, flying to London Ryanair will land in either Stansted or Gatwick depending on your departure and day. This means you need to catch a train – stanstedexpress.com does a fantastic job – to get into London. This is an extra cost which you need consider before booking your flight.
Here is a price list directly from the website: (prices may not be current as this screenshot is from 21.04.2017)
You may find that the amount you want to save on the airfare will be partially spent on the train trip to London. There is a cheaper alternative, use the nationalexpress.com coaches. The journey time is a little longer than by train but it is cheaper. (Prices may not be current as this screenshot is from 21.04.2017):
There is no reason why you should not use Budget Airlines, provided you are satisfied with the following:
- Limited baggage allowance
- Departure and arrival port isn’t too inconvenient or too costly.
- There are no hidden costs in the advertised fare.
Flying Direct; A Stop-Over Could Save You Money
Another way to save money on a flight is not flying direct. Sometimes a stop-over or two can reduce the price of the ticket. If you are not in a rush to get to your destination and don’t mind an extra take-off and landing. Then you may find yourself saving money. It can sometimes make a really big difference.
Most websites such as Skyscanner.com, GotoGate.com will offer an alert for a particular flight that you are looking for. So it’s actually worth signing up to receive alerts in your email every time there is a change in the airfare. This may be unfortunately an increase or it could be a sale that you may have missed out on had you not signed up for alerts.
If you find that your airfare is increasing, you may want to jump on it as there is every chance that it will increase even more as it gets closer to your departure date. This is almost always true with budget airlines, but I have no doubt that regular airlines also practice this method.
Get in Early and Save
Airlines have a selected amount of seats which they need to sell in order to cover the expenses and therefore the first seats will be the cheapest to attract as many travelers as possible. After these seats are sold out, the next batch of seats will be offered at a higher price and so on until the plane is full.
Try using a different country when searching for cheap flights, so instead of Skyscanner.com try Skyscanner.de for example and pay in Euros instead. Skyscanner and most of the other websites will allow you to choose your preferred language and currency.
You may find that it will be cheaper to purchase a ticket in Pounds or Euros rather than Dollars for example. It is worth checking this as in most cases you will be using a credit card. And your bank will usually give you a better exchange rate than the website vendor for cheap flights.