These are the exact tactics and websites I use to find cheap flights all over the world. Happy hunting!
You might have noticed (or thought it was an old wives tale) that ticket prices seem to slowly increase as the days go by…
Or perhaps you’re talking to the guy next to you on the plane, and he says he bought the first ticket he saw because it was a reasonable price… and you’re annoyed because you’ve actually done your homework and researched plane tickets every night for a week and the cheapest you could find was $200 more than your new travel buddy’s ticket…
Well, here’s why: companies want to make the sale and for you to buy the ticket. They can see that you’re checking out the prices and thinking about purchasing (because everything is trackable nowadays). The next time you go to website to check out the same ticket (hoping the price went down from yesterday’s price), the company can see that you’ve returned and they increase the price just a bit to slowly pressure you into buying NOW, instead of waiting for the price to continue to rise…
How do they do this? Cookies (in your computer).
How do you stop this? Incognito Windows >> Travel Gold!
This is probably the most important tip, out of any, I can give about researching flights! Incognito windows do not allow cookies to be stored on your computer… which means that companies can not track you activity… which means it’s like you’re checking out the price for the first time, every time! Which means the cheapest possible flight price based solely on availability and such (not how curious you are).
NOTE: To get a new Incognito window, there should be an option somewhere up top on your menu bar that allows you to open an new INCOGNITO window.
If you have a bit of wiggle room in your schedule, there’s often an option you can choose to check a few days before and after the specific date you’re searching. Sometimes the day before or the day after is quite a bit cheaper…
Let’s say you’re trying to get to Seattle from Miami… You keep searching (in your Incognito Window) for cheap flights, but nothing is coming up that you’re happy with… What I would do, is try other airports that are relatively in the same region (some websites have an option to check nearby airports).
In this scenario (from Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington), I would try searching from Miami to Portland, Oregon… It’s about a 3 hour drive from Seattle (so it wouldn’t even be within the option of a “nearby airport”), but there’s the Bolt Bus that zips back and forth from Portland to Seattle for about $10 or so (depending on when you buy a ticket)… What I’m saying is, check out a few airports and if you find a ticket to someplace else that is a lot cheaper, then do a bit of research on how to get to your main destination…
When to Buy
Around Tuesday or Wednesday at 3am New York time (12am Seattle time)…
And about 90 days before departure.
Why? Prices slowly increase as searches become more popular (tracked by cookies and such). But there needs to be a time during the week where the companies/computers can analyze and sort of reboot all the information that was gathered… This probably happens mid-week because less people search for flights during a busy work week (especially at 3am).
When you find that perfect ticket, and you’re just about ready to check out, open a new window and search for Promo Codes (for that airline, or for the search engine you’re using).
Promo Codes are just digital coupons. Before I buy ANYTHING online, I ALWAYS do a quick search for a Promo Code: “Promo Code CheapOAir.com”, “Promo Code USAirways”… Usually, something will pop up that will save me $30 or 20%. It only takes 3 minutes to search really quickly, and could save your between $5-$100! Why not try and search?
Student? Teacher? Or Under 25?
If you’re a student, definitely check out Student Universe! It has really cheap flights – but you need to have an account and prove (in two ways) that you really are a student (either with a class schedule, student ID, etc.) You’ll need to take pictures of your two proofs and then email it to them for verification. Once you’re approved, make an account and enjoy the student discounts!
There are also Teacher and Youth discounts as well… I don’t think they are as good or as often, but definitely worth checking out!
Fly Anywhere! – Kayak or SkyScanner
Want to get away but don’t care where? Find the cheapest flight to anywhere from your home airport!
I personally love SkyScanner because you can select an entire country (instead of just one airport) and you can select the entire month (great for backpackers with flexible schedules that just want the cheapest option).
Search by Entire Country! – WhichBudget
Is good for searching to or from anywhere in an entire country. Most people know exactly where they’re flying in or out of, but backpackers just want to find the cheapest possible flights and they’ll get to the airport eventually…
WhichBudget isn’t the prettiest website, but it’ll give you a good idea for which airport in the whole country will be the cheapest. Then, once you get a good idea, I would search with that criteria on other websites :)
Most Powerful Search Engine
Google’s ITA Matrix Software – This is, by far, the most powerful flight search engine I’ve found, and the one I use every time I look for flights. Here’s why:
The ITA Matrix allows you to search multiple airports at once, and to view a calendar of all the cheapest flights on the web.
Here’s the most powerful feature: All other websites allow you to search one-way flights or round-trip flights of specific dates that you specify, but the ITA Matrix allows you to enter a range of days (Minimum days – Maximum days you’d like to stay… with a maximum spread of 7 days. Example 5-12 days) and then it’ll show you the calendar. Hover over each day and it’ll show you the prices for each day range.
It’s kind of confusing to type, so just play with the website. There’s a bit of a learning curve because it’s not cutesy like other websites – it’s just a raw search (way better).
One other thing to note: Once you find a flight you like using the ITA Matrix, you can’t buy the flight from this website (again, this is just a search engine – not a company making money)… But it’ll tell you which company has the cheapest deal and you can go to any other website (the company’s website specifically, or you favorite third-party flight search website).
Ryan Air and Wizz Air both have a LOT of fine print, but if you do it correctly, this is the cheapest way to fly! A lot of people hate these airlines because of all the charges of extras. However, I don’t need luxuries, so I’m just happy it’s cheap and gets me to where I’m going safely :) Here are the most common charges that people get caught on:
- Travel only with a carry-on (a checked-bag will cost more to fly than YOU)
- Must print ticket after purchase (I’ve heard of people having to pay more than $80 at the airport to print the one piece of paper because well, what are you going to do? They got you.)
Note: I heard a rumor lately that Ryan Air will soon start charging to use the toilet in-flight. They removed some toilets in order to put in more seating… and in doing so, toilet will cost money! Again, this is just what I heard. Drink your water after you land! HAHA!
Cheapest Flights in Asia – Air Asia
Cheapest for around Asia!
Miscellaneous Cheap Airlines
Miscellaneous Flight-Hunting Websites
Once you’ve booked your flight, find out what you’re allowed to bring – weight, cost, number of bags, etc.
Every airport in the world – quickly learn its three letter code.
Flying into a major airport will make the cost cheaper and will most likely have better transportation options once you get there.
How To Use It: Simply click “Start new itinerary” in the first option box (doesn’t matter the choice you pick since you’re just using this as a reference for major airports). Then click “Click here to get started”