You can save hundreds, and cumulatively thousands of dollars with a couple simple steps. Your flight could quite possibly be the most expensive aspect of your whole trip. While it can get annoying to search, search and continually search for a cheap flight, it's usually worth it. Initially, you must conclude whether staring at a computer screen for hours is worth hundreds of dollars. I figure I'm staring at a computer screen all day at work or on my cell phone at any other point in time, so I might as well make these machines work in my favor, right?. Also, I'm broke as shit, so I need all the savings I can get. I don't mind spending a couple hours clicking back and forth between tabs to find the best deal.
So while I know it gets annoying, I've created a little guide to help you find the cheapest flight in the least amount of time. If I'm looking to go somewhere and I'm over the whole "patience" thing I continually preach about, these steps are how I go on purchasing a ticket and still feel comfortable about the overall price. All it will take you is three tabs. Each very important. There will be some time spent within each tab though so don't throw all your patience out of the window, you'll still need some. Since I'm amazing, I've even screenshot what it should look like for you, so you don't get lost while on your hunt! Get ready to save big money on even bigger adventures...
TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND
Websites jack up prices if you're using a Mac, so try to stick to a PC when searching
The time of day you search for a flight just might matter! Supposedly searching in the early morning gives you the best (and cheapest) options.
Also, the time of your flight might make a difference. Not many want to catch a red-eye (overnight or late night) flight, which means you should probably board one to save some coins
The cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Know the difference between a one-way flight, a roundtrip flight, and a multi-city flight
- One-Way: flying from your departure city with no intentions of coming back. Going to your intended destination and never turning around to go home. Basically the flight you wish you would have booked once you get to a tropical island or what you do when your boyfriend cheats on you, whatever example suits you best.
- Roundtrip: flying from your departure city with a set return time and date. Going to your intended destination understanding you have a job and bills and a car note waiting at home for you, so you gotta return. Basically the flight you book when responsibilities are knocking on your door and you just left to escape them for a while.
- Multi-City: flying from your departure city to another city and then another, and possibly many more. Going to your intended destination and realizing that you have more than one intended destination. Basically the flight you book when you're about to go on a hell of an adventure. Forewarning, this multi-city flight might mean that you realize your constant desire for travel and never return for those responsibilities you left behind.
Start off by scrolling quickly through @theflightdeal, @suzzstravels and @airfarewatchdog on Twitter to make sure there aren't any crazy deals you're missing out on. (If you're not hip, read-up on this article.)
Quickly scroll through @theflightdeal and @suzzstravels and possibly @airfarewatchdog on Twitter to make sure there aren't any crazy deals you're missing out on. Remember that if you find a deal to your intended destination, but the departure airport is far that sometimes it's worth it to travel to the further departure airport and leave from there. Sometimes flights are so cheap that you still end up saving a shitload of money after traveling to the further airport.
For example, on my last personal trip, I found an amazing flight leaving from PHL (Philadelphia) to DPS (Bali) for approximately $500. The only issue is I live in Richmond, Virginia, not Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After a little research I found a MegaBus ticket for $15 to Philadelphia. This meant that my whole trip to Bali cost $515, a STEAL! I was over the roof knowing that regular tickets to anywhere in Southeast Asia cost about $1,000! Now you see the importance in extra research, so put your patience caps on and start scrolling through those previously mentioned Twitter handles.
If you've scrolled and haven't found any deals heading towards your intended destination then move on. If you have, you know your next step is to figure out how cheap you can reach that destination for. Is it worth it? If so, book that sucker. If it's not, move on to the following steps.
Step one: Google flights
Before delving into Google Flights, understand that this site is my favorite of all the three I'll be showing you today. Just informing you of my bias. Also I can be pretty lazy (especially when it's not beneficial to me) and this site makes that laziness a whole bunch easier. It could quite possibly be a one-stop shop.
Your first step would obviously be deciding what type of flight you're looking for (one-way, roundtrip, or multi-city). As you can see from above, in terms of a destination the world is your oyster! If you don't have a particular place in mind then typing in anything from as broad as 'South America' will give you the opportunity to explore pricing to different cities via the provided map assuming you've input your dates. Another cool aspect of Google Flights is that you can enter more than one departure airport to try to find the cheapest flight (remember it's sometimes cheaper to not fly from your local airport). Once you've chosen a destination and input all the airports you're interested in flying from, you can narrow down your search by other factors that are important to you. Some people refuse to get on more than one flight, so you can choose to filter through direct flights only. Others will only fly through certain airlines, also a filter-able option. According to my bank account, the only thing I am and ever will be concerned about is price.
This brings me to Google Flight's most important feature (in my eyes, and in the eyes of my dear Mr. Wells Fargo), the ability to see how prices change based on the day you travel. I like to call this feature "sorcery", no Harry Potter though.
As you can see, if you have flexible dates, this feature can change your life. If I were to book a flight on the 8th of February, my flight would be $995 versus flying on March 1st with a $395 flight. Thats a difference of $636! TALK ABOUT SAVINGS! Not only did Mr. Wells Fargo approve, but this "sorcery" has continued to allow for Netflix in my budget for the next five years or so. My binging habits are ever so thankful. Amen! If you find a flight on here that fits your budget and you aren't interested in doing any more research, then by all means go ahead and book. My conscious and coin allocation force me to look through at least three sites before booking, so I continue on. If you got it like that, be about that life sweetheart!
step two: Skyscanner
Another favorite site is SkyScanner because of a couple different features. When you get to the site, make sure you choose whether you want a roundtrip or one-way flight. There are no options for multi-city on this site, unfortunately.
Some favorite feature include the "Add nearby airports" feature and its "Everywhere" feature. Clicking the "Add nearby airports" allows for the system to find neighboring or nearby airports to showcase the lowest prices for that date in time. It's like the Google Flights feature except you don't have to manually input the airports, it literally finds them for you. Lazy hack? I think so. The "Everywhere" feature allows for you to see where the cheapest place to fly to in the world based on your selected dates. Once you click search, you'll see the same image as below and you can choose where you'd like to go depending on price. We all know that's most important to me, and should be to most of you if you're on a budget!
If your dates are flexible, you're able to open up the calendar and instead of choosing a specific date, select "Cheapest Month" or "Whole Month". These will allow you to find the cheapest flight month for your intended destination throughout the whole year or search the cheapest days throughout the month you're already searching in.
SkyScanner usually has good deals and I love the way they organize the trips in "Everywhere" based on price. They also compare prices with a bunch of other sites (or so they say) to try to help you find the best deal. I have found amazing prices through this site, like $800 flights to select cities in Africa and $80 flights to Atlanta. If you find an amazing deal on here then as I've stated before, go ahead and book. As you know, I still have one more site to search so that my conscious will allow me to sleep peacefully post-purchase.
step three: Cheap-o-air
Cheap-O-Air is my least favorite site of the three I've exposed you to. So why do I even bother? Well, sometimes their deals are so remarkable that they just might be worth the hassle. The features they offer are pretty basic, but a little patience can save a good amount if it's worth it to you. Again, it might not be worth it for you to go through all of this research, but Mr. Wells Fargo doesn't like when I act out of line, so I just abide by what I can afford here. As you can tell, unlike SkyScanner, you can choose multi-city flights through this search engine. Rejoice my fellow wanderlust spirits.
One of the most amazing features, and probably the only if I'm being honest, is the fact that the price calendar pops up for you as soon as you have your locations selected. You don't need to click "Search Now" to render results. They literally pop up in seconds. Searching through the dates, you can see that if I can save $322 on my flight if I book it late February to early March versus the early February date I have selected. This tool allows you to look ahead up to 9 months to plan (you know, just in case you're trying to go somewhere before you pop out that kid).
The worst aspect of this site, and the one that will take you the most amount of time, is their lack of a "nearby airports" button or capability. If you want to find prices from different airports, you must either open numerous tabs for each airport or go through and jot down prices for prices from each airport. This can be a huge pain, but not worthless. Think about the hundreds you'll save. You know you're broke, and what else are you doing with your time besides scrolling through someone's feed? Not a damn thing. Take the time and look through. Other than that, the format is pretty basic once you decide to hit the "Search Now" button. You have numerous options to choose from in terms of filtering and they offer you select dates that might give you a better chance for a cheap flight. Don't sleep on this site. Although it's super basic, I have found deals on here that have beat any deal I've seen on Google Flights and SkyScanner.
you got this
So I know this can be a grueling process, but breathe and remember patience. I know I preach it all the time, but there is nothing in this world that is more necessary. If you want something bad (like I want cheap flights) then you gotta work for those cheap flights, they don't come easy. This is the easiest way that I know of to find the cheapest flight. Some people get lucky and find a deal through the Twitter handles mentioned above. Others see a price on Google Flights that sits well with them. Then you have those crazed budgeting freaks who must visit a minimum of three sites to ensure that the deal they are getting is really a deal, and not just some mumbo-jumbo crap advertised to trick me into spending my coin. As you all know, coin doesn't come easy in this world, so spend it wisely and honestly what better way to spend your coin than on an experience?!
HAVE ANY TIPS/TRICKS OR IDEAS ON FINDING THE CHEAPEST FLIGHT? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! MAKE SURE TO SHARE AND SUBSCRIBE MY LOVES!