After affordably flying around the world, and more recently, booking flights to New York a day in advance for only $70, I’ve figured out quite a few ways to find cheap flights. If you’re willing to invest a little time and research, you’ll be shocked at how many cheap flights you can find.
Here are a few different things to try:
1. Cheap Flight-Finder Sites
There’s a ton of websites that compare prices to find the “cheapest flights”, but the ones you’re probably used to like Orbitz, and Travelocity charge a fee making the flights more. I had the best luck using One Travel when booking flights from the U.S. to abroad and SkyScanner for finding flights internationally since it uses smaller, international airlines. Webjet and Zuji are also site that help connect you with smaller international airlines that usually have cheaper fares!
2. Use Flexible Dates & Nearby Airports
Unless you’re trying to go somewhere on a specific date for a specific reason, play around with the +/- 1 or 2 days option that most flight-finder sites have. It’s obviously cheaper to fly on weekdays rather than weekends, and a lot of times certain airports will be more booked than ones around them. Wednesdays are said to be the cheapest days to travel on, but expanding your options can definitely land you a cheaper fare.
3. Use One-Way Tickets
A round-trip ticket can very easily cost you way more than booking two separate one-way tickets. Why? Certain days are more expensive to travel on, so when you just choose one time frame, it doesn’t give you the option to mix and match your days. Most airline sites will show you a calendar of prices when you choose to do one-way tickets, that will make it easier for you to see which days are cheapest to fly on. You can also play around with mixing and matching airlines. A flight on Virgin America might be cheaper on the same day as the same flight on American. You can also check one-way prices on the flight finder sites like Webjet and One Travel.
4. Check Airline Deals
If you go to airlines’ websites like Virgin America or Southwest, there’s often a page for special deals that offer cheap flights to certain places during certain dates if you book in advance. Right now you can book one way flights with Southwest for $79 if you book 14 days in advance.
5. Enroll in Rewards Programs
Even if you don’t travel that often, you should still sign up for rewards programs with every airline you fly on. It costs nothing to you, and keeps track of your miles, which eventually can end up scoring you a free plane ticket like it just did for me.
6. Sign Up For Miles Credit Cards
This is something that I’ve been hearing about more and more lately, and considering looking into. When you sign up for a credit card affiliated with an airline, you automatically get 40,000 – 50,000 points, just for signing up. The secret that I’ve been hearing about however, is signing up for multiple credit cards affiliated with the same airline, that way you get double the amount of points and can combine them. Signing up for two credit cards can get you a flight to Australia.
7. Search Groupon/Living Social Deals
I recently wrote a post where I listed “15 Affordable International Trips to Take in 2015”, and got a lot of good feedback from it. It really is a great, affordable way to travel, especially if you’re bad at finding cheap flights and hotels, or are bad at planning. I usually check Groupon Getaways or Living Social Escapes when I’m feeling wanderlust or need some inspo to save up for my next trip. Most of their trip packages include flights, so they already take the work out of finding a cheap flight for you. Some of them also include tours, which is a sweet bonus.
8. Sign Up For Cheap Flight Alert Emails
Nobody likes junk mail, but you might like it if it gets you up to 60% off of a flight. You can sign up for cheap flight alerts with almost any airline, and also the flight-finder sites like One Travel, Kayak, and SkyScanner. They also usually offer tons of deals right before the holidays. AirFareWatchdog.com is also a good site to sign up with – it uses real people to notify you when prices drop.
9. Book on Tuesdays or Mornings
Most people have heard the secret of booking a flight on a Tuesday before, for some reason, it tends to have lower prices. Mornings also tend to have lower prices, especially on flight-finder sites. I’ve also heard that if you book a flight, and the price drops within 24 hours, you can cancel it without penalty, get a refund, then rebook it for less.
10. Take Advantage of Layovers
Flights with layovers tend to be cheaper than non-stop flights, probably because they are inconvenient and annoying. But if you can plan it correctly, you can take advantage of layovers in two ways. The first is obviously the saving money part, but the second, is that you can use layovers as a free ticket to see another place along the way. For instance the cheapest flights to South Africa from LA on Emirates all had layovers in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. Instead of choosing the one with the shortest layover time, I chose the one with the longest, and was able to spend eight hours exploring Dubai and even got a free hotel room to rest in since my layover was over eight hours!
You’ll probably think I’m a crazy person for suggesting this, but I’m just sayin’…there are certain airlines that have been in the news recently that many people are afraid to fly on… That means a lot of empty seats to fill, AKA cheaper fares. I flew Malaysia Air two weeks after the second plane went down and had no problems…in fact I even wrote 5 Reasons Why You Should Still Fly Malaysia Air! (Ok fine, it was a little bit scary, but I made it!)
EXTRA BONUS SECRETS FOR SCORING FIRST CLASS
Ioannis from CheapFlights was nice enough to reach out and send me this great info-graphic on how to score a cheap first class upgrade on your flight…check it out!
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!