For most trips, airfare is the most expensive part of the trip. While prices for transatlantic flights have gone down in recent years, they can still put a sizeable dent in any travel budget. Whether you’re a budget solo traveler or a family looking to vacation abroad, finding a cheap flight deal can be what makes or breaks your trip. flight claims
After all, if your flight is too expensive, you’re likely going to keep putting the trip off. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
And yet every day, airlines have thousands of amazing deals — from mistakenly published fares to special promotions to slashing prices to compete with another airline. Cheap fares are out there and they can make your dream trip a reality — if you know where to look.
Today, I am going to help you master the art of finding a cheap flight. These are the exact steps I’ve been following for a decade to get the cheapest airfare possible every time I fly. If you follow them too, you’ll never be the person on a flight who paid the most for their ticket!
1. Ignore the Myths
The first thing to know about finding a cheap flight is that there is no magic bullet or one secret ninja trick to doing so. There are a lot of myths online about how to find cheap flights. In fact, you’ve probably come across a ton of them on your search to find the best flight deal!
They are all lies. They will lead you astray.
Most websites hire terrible reporters who recycle common and outdated myths. Here are the most common that are 100% not true:
- It is NOT cheaper to buy airfare on a Tuesday (or any other specific day for that matter).
- There is NO evidence that searching incognito leads to cheaper deals.
- There is NO exact date or specific time period in which to book your airfare.
- You can’t predict airline prices and websites that do are basically taking an educated (but probably wrong) guess.
Airlines use advanced computer and pricing algorithms to determine prices and run sales based on the time of the year, passenger demand, weather, major events/festivals, time of day, competitor prices, fuel prices, and much more. Those so-called “tricks” don’t work anymore. The system is too smart. Throw them out. Let them die.
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Anyone who is telling you doesn’t know what they are talking about. These myths will 100% lead you astray.
2. Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates and Times
Airline ticket prices vary greatly depending on the day of the week, time of year, and upcoming holidays, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July. August is a big month for traveling around Europe, and everyone wants to go somewhere warm in the winter or travel when the kids are out of school.
In a nutshell, if you are going to fly when everyone is flying, then your ticket is going to cost more.
Try to be flexible with your dates. If you are dead-set on visiting Paris, go to Paris in the spring or fall when fewer people visit and airfares are cheaper.
But if you want to go in the middle of August? You’re out of luck. Hawaii over Christmas? Good luck! Prices will be at their highest.
The solution is to fly off-season. Search alternative dates so that you can capitalize on the best day. The more rigid your plans, the less likely it will be that you find a deal.
Moreover, it’s almost always cheaper to fly during the middle of the week than on a weekend because most people travel on the weekends and airlines hike their prices then. Prices are cheaper if you fly after or on a major holiday. Early-morning or late-night flights are also cheaper because fewer people want to travel then (who wants to wake up early?!). Fridays and Mondays are expensive because that’s when most business travelers fly.
When searching on Google Flights, simply click on the date field to expand the calendar view and you’ll immediately see the cheapest days to fly within a two-month window. On this search from Austin to NYC, you can see that prices on certain days can be twice as much as on others:
Airlines are not dumb. They know when a festival, holiday, major sports event, or school break is coming up — and they raise prices accordingly.
Be flexible with your dates and times and you’ll save yourself some major money.
3. Be Flexible with Your Destinations
If you can’t be flexible with when you fly, at least be flexible with where you fly. It’s best to be both, but if you really want to save the most money and get a cheap flight for your trip, you at least need to be flexible with one or the other.
Airline search engines have made it really easy to search the entire world to find the cheapest ticket. You no longer have to search manually, city by city, day by day. Websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights offer explore tools that allow you to put in your home airport and see a map of the world with all the flights on it. This allows you to easily compare multiple destinations without having to brainstorm every possible option. You’ll likely even find some interesting destinations you hadn’t even thought of either!
If you are flexible with where you want to go (i.e., anywhere but home), here’s what to do:
Step 1: Go to Google Flights and click on the map:
Step 2: Next, put in your departure city and the date. Now you can look at a wide variety of options on the map. If you don’t have a specific destination or dates, you can search via the “Flexible dates” option:
If you’re flexible on dates but have a preferred amount time you’d like to be away, you can filter by that too. You can select weekend, 1-week, or 2-week time frames:
The truth about airfare is that there’s always a deal to some destination — it might just not be your first choice. However, if you’re flexible about where you want to go, you’ll always get a deal and save a ton of money in the process.
When you are locked into one place at one time, you are stuck with whatever price shows up. Nothing can change that. But when you become flexible, suddenly the entire world opens up to you and you’ll find amazing cheap airfares!
4. Fly Budget Carriers
Years ago, if you wanted to fly between continents, you were mostly stuck with traditional expensive airlines. That’s no longer true. These days, you can fly most of the way around the world on a budget airline. Sure, they might not be as comfortable and you may need to pay for premium upgrades like checked bags and meals, but they bring the world to your doorstep without breaking the bank. flight claims
Budget airlines mainly service short and medium-haul routes. While most budget carriers (notably Norwegian Air) scrapped their long-haul routes during COVID, I imagine some of them will return once the travel industry recovers.
For now, budget airlines mainly operate regionally so it’s really easy to find a cheap flight, even during this age of higher prices.