If you’re the kind of person who spends hours searching for a cheap plane ticket online, check out these five ways to save time and find the best flight bargains while you’re at it.
Though no single website will always give you the cheapest price, these flight search engines are great places to start:
Momondo (includes both major and budget airlines)
Skyscanner (includes both U.S. and foreign airlines, and gives you prices for an entire month so you can see which days are the cheapest to fly)
AirFare Watchdog (includes sale & deeply discounted error fares)
Cheapoair (offers cheap tickets through exclusive deals with hundreds of airlines worldwide)
JetRadar (includes the budget airlines that a lot of search engines leave out)
Google Flights (a great way to compare flight prices, though they’re not always the cheapest)
Kayak.com (searches hundreds of travel websites at once to find the best deals)
Air Wander (gives you two or more destinations for the price of one by including layovers lasting days, weeks, or months)
Always try a combination of search engines to make sure you don’t miss out on a bargain!
Plane ticket prices always spike during peak times like Thanksgiving and Christmas, not to mention August, when most people in Europe are on vacation. If you have the flexibility to travel during the off-season - think April in Paris or September in Rome — you’ll save a bundle on airfare.
If you have to travel at certain times of the year, try to keep your dates flexible to save money. For example, flying in the middle of the week is almost always cheaper than flying on the weekend. Flying after a big holiday, or taking early-morning or late-night flights, are other ways to save.
Book too early and you might miss a bargain - book too late and you might end up paying an outrageous price for your ticket. What’s the ideal time frame for booking a flight? If you’re traveling during the high season (e.g. August in Europe, Christmas in the U.S.), reserve about 3 months ahead of time. Otherwise, it’s best to book 6-8 weeks before you plan to take off, which is when airlines often lower their fares depending on demand.
Even if you’re not traveling alone, you should search for, and purchase, your tickets one at a time. Why? Airlines always display the highest ticket price in a group of tickets. If you’re a family of three, for example, the airline will show three seats next to one another — and display the fare based on the highest ticket price. In other words, if seat 1 is $100, seat 2 is $200, and seat 3 is $300, the airline will price tickets at $300 each rather than totaling the individual ticket prices. So you should always search for tickets on an individual basis. You can choose your seats to make sure you and your companions can sit together during the payment process.
Have you got your vacation dates, but you’re not sure where you want to go? There are several websites, including Kiwi.com, Google Flights, and Kayak.com (using the ‘Explore’ feature), that allow you to enter your departure city, enter your dates, and search for the cheapest destinations around the world. This is a great option to feed your wanderlust and and save money along the way.