Everyone loves a good flight deal and the thrill of nabbing a cheap flight, but talk to any travel expert and they will tell you its a lot more than just plugging in your dates and hitting the buy now button. Travel “rules” and “hacks” for cheap flights always keeps changing as travel evolves so it helps to keep updated on current travel and airline trends. While I’m no expert yet and I am still learning a lot on the go, I have a few tips to share from my experience booking flights in the past. Its literally my fave past time – to browse airline deals and window shop flights to try and get the best deal/price possible. Here are some of my tips :
1 ) Book early but not too early, 6 – 8 weeks is ideal! I try to never wait till the last minute to buy a flight.
2 ) Search on multiple portals and set up price alerts for the route you want. I like to do this in Kayak and Google flights.
3 ) Best day to book : Tuesday is usually considered the best day to book. There are some theories that debunk this, so its best to browse for a week and check out the price trends through the week. I usually book most of my flights on Tuesdays! Kayak also specifically tells you if they advice you to “Buy” or “wait” which is something I like about this search engine too.
4 ) Best day and time to fly : Cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. If you are flexible consider starting your travel days on these days! Also early mornings are usually the cheapest time to fly. Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive days to fly.
5 ) I always search flights in an incognito window or clear my browser cookies before searching for a flight. Since cookies are used when you’re searching regularly in your browser, airline sites can see you repeatedly searched routes and increase the price.
6 ) Flexibility :
- While searching I always try and “include nearby airports” and search in the “+/- 3 days” window so that I can get the best deal.
- If you are flexible usually connecting flights are slightly cheaper than nonstop options too.
- Booking two one way tickets can sometimes be cheaper than a Roundtrip, so always worth checking.
- If you don’t care about airline loyalty you can try and mix and match airlines for your flights to try and get the best deal. (more on perks of airline loyalty below)
I always make sure to search from SFO, SJC and OAK airports when I am searching from the Bay Area.
7 ) Fave airline search sites : While there are multiple airline sites to search from, these are a few of my faves. I have also signed up for their email newsletter to never miss a deal!
- Go-to’s : Google Flights and Kayak. I use these to search and then book directly on the airline website.
- Fave to get deals : Scott’s Cheap Flights and The Flight Deal.
- Fave site to browse “anywhere” and “everywhere” : Momondo and Skyskanner respectively. If you are flexible to travel anywhere you can try these options and search within a full month too!
- For budget airlines – check out the airline website directly as they usually don’t show up on search engines. (eg : Southwest)
8 ) Airline Loyalty : If you are a frequent flyer, consider signing up for the airline rewards program or credit card. These end up saving you a ton in the long run if you fly within the same airline or airline alliance. Airline Credit cards offer amazing perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding, seat selection, award miles, etc. I love being loyal to an airline and/alliance. I have signed up for reward programs at American, Jet Blue and United in the US. United MileagePlus is usually my go to since SF is a hub and its a part of Star Alliance which also has some other fave airline partners around the world such as Air New Zealand below.
Premium Economy on Air New Zealand (also a part of Star Alliance)
9 ) Search for Tickets in Other Currencies : This dosen’t always work but its totally worth trying! I have tried this when I was in India and it totally worked that time around!
For eg : it was way cheaper for “flight X” when I searched for it from India than it was when I searched for the exact “flight X” when I was in the US! So consider doing this especially if your country’s currency is strong compared to other currencies around the world. Just change the currency to the weaker currency and you could potentially save $$ for getting the same ticket on the same airline ! It will just be booked in a different currency.
10 ) If you are flying in a group – search and buy tickets one at a time! This is a hack that I learnt of only recently! Because airlines will typically limit the number of seats per flight that they sell at their lowest rate, sometimes you can actually price yourself right out of a good deal simply by having too many passengers if you are booking for an entire family or group. For instance – if there’s only one seat left in the lowest fare class and you search for 4 seats, most automated systems will show you the highest fare class for all four tickets.
For this reason consider booking several “1 passenger” tickets and then seat select later on so that you can all be seated together. (Of course the caveat is that there could potentially be only a few tickets left so you might not all be in the same flight if you do it this way). You can always compare the search of the same airline route for 1 passenger (times 4) versus the price for 4 passengers together. More time and effort, but its totally worth it to save you some $$$!
Happy airline ticket shopping!
Do you have tips to share ? I am always looking to learn more!
Thanks for stopping by! xoxo