How To Find Cheap Flights

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You’re likely wasting money on expensive flights when you could instead save for better investments.

Learn how to find cheap flights to anywhere with this in-depth guide.

What Factors Will Influence My Flight’s Price?

While a lot of us can’t control the seasons or days that we fly, if you have the luxury to control when traveling abroad, here are the following factors that will influence your flight’s price:

  • The current situation in the country you’re going to. Factors such as mass protests or lockdowns might affect your flight’s pricing
  • Whatever season you choose will have some of the biggest impacts on your flight prices. For instance, since most will travel during the summer, airlines will likely raise ticket prices to profit the most from the situation.
  • If a national holiday falls on days you’re interested in visiting the country.
  • When you book your flight also matters. If you book it too close to your departure date, the planes will likely have fewer seats available, leading to higher prices.
  • Sales, coupons, and travel reward programs.

How Long Before a Flight Is the Cheapest To Buy?

The famous flight search engine platform, Skyscanner, performed a study that analyzed flight booking data from 2019 and concluded that you should buy domestic flight tickets at least three weeks in advance. Also, you shouldbook international flights two weeks in advance.

What Days Are Best For Cheap Flights?

While we’ll never know what day will give you the cheapest flights, you can use some factors to your advantage. For example, Winter, Spring, and Autumn serve as ideal seasonsto search for flights.

Many sources state Tuesday at 3 p.m. EST is the best day for cheap flights. However, you should remain up-to-date on pricing in case prices changes, as situations can change.

If you don’t want to believe anonymous sources, FareCompare performed a study that resulted in different days providing the best results based on where you are.

The worst days to fly—depending on which country you’re in or flying to—are:

  • Christmas
  • Around the Lunar New Year, if you’re flying to countries in Asia.
  • Spring Break
  • New Year’s Eve and Day
  • Close to Thanksgiving
  • Summer

Tips on How to Find Cheap Flights

Now that you understand some of what influences airfare price, let’s explore some tips on snagging the cheapest flights. That way, you could move your budget to other parts of your trip that matter more.

1. Use a Private Browser

While no sources exist to prove that searching for flights in incognito mode (private mode) lowers flights’ price, it’s still doesn’t hurt to add it to your list of ways to find the cheapest flights.

Since incognito mode doesn’t save your cookies, history, and temporary files, you might want to test. In case the ways of the web changed since I wrote this piece.

To start using a private browser, simply go to your browser’s options and click “New Private Tab”.

Since you’re maybe in the experimental mood, if you have a VPN lying around, jump into a private tab, turn your VPN on, and experiment with different locations. Who knows, you might find a lower price.

Related post: Your Guide to Finding The Right VPN

2. Make Sure You Use a Good Flight Search Engine

Some websites aggregate online travel agencies, airfare sites, and booking engines into one place to make searching for flights a lot easier. However, some booking websites find the prices themselves, such as Expedia.

While many of these websites will show similar results, you should research the aggregator itself and the booking engines that they’ll lead you through to make sure they aren’t a scam.

First off, you should check the Better Business Bureau for potential red flags.

You might also want to keep in mind that some airlines, such as Southwest Airlines, don’t allow other websites to aggregate their results. Therefore, you’ll have to go directly through them and compare your findings to the aggregator websites.

Related article: Common Travel Scams: Fake Travel Agencies

3. Use Travel Rewards Programs

About every airline offers in-house travel rewards programs that gift loyal flyers discounted or free flights, upgrades, access to premium lounges, and more. Usually, you can rack up points or miles by flying with an airline for (X) miles and then redeeming them for whatever rewards you choose.

Airlines will often fall under a part of an alliance, which means you can use points for different airlines.

Keep in mind that mileage will expire after a certain amount of time, so travel rewards programs best serve frequent flyers.

I recommend using Awardwallet to manage your rewards programs.

4. Search for Airline Errors and Sales

Airline errors happen when online travel agencies—usually human error—accidentally list a ticket price for way less than it should be. If you happen to stumble upon these tickets, you struck gold!

While this comes off as a fantastic phenomenon, sometimes airlines will correct these errors and not honor the lower prices. And if they don’t, they might give you a full refund on your ticket and a bonus such as a travel voucher.

To find airline errors, use the aggregators and online travel agencies (OTA) mentioned above and periodically search through them. While you’re at it, sign up for price alerts. Discover when prices drop below a certain point before anyone else.

Scott’s Cheap Flights offers free and paid flight alerts to save you even more money.

While you’re signing up for mailing lists, do the same for airline websites to know when they have sales.

5. Consider a Budget Airlines

Low-cost airlines, or budget airlines, use various means to reduce their prices, such as eliminating unessential features like reclining seats.

While the term budget usually equals poor service and safety, no published statistics exist that state low-cost airlines crash more often than their higher-class predecessors.

As for any airline, do your research. Look into accident reports through websites like the Aviation Safety Network to tell if your airline will offer a safe experience.

FAQ: How to Find Cheap Flights

Do Flight Prices Go up the More You Search?

With cookies, websites can use our data and repurpose it with the intent of remarketing, website usage analytics, or making our experiences on their website easier.

Can they use cookies to raise flight prices the more we search, though?

It’s complicated. William McGee from Consumer Reports and his team performed a study searching for airfare prices on nine popular flight aggregators with over 350 queries.

Their team concludedthat you’d increase your chances of finding lower airfares by searching multiple times over several days. With and without clearing cookies.
His findings indicate that flight prices don’t go up the more you search.

What Is the Best Flight Search Engine?

The best flight search engine is Momondo if you want affordable tickets. I found that this Kayak.com subsidiary offers the most filter options to truly control our experience.

Unfortunately, these results will differ because of various factors, so we can’t declare a winner. However, I checked the following flight search engines for flights to different countries:
Google Flights
Skyscanner
Kayak
Expedia
Skiplagged
Booking
Momondo
CheapO Air

This finding is subject to change, and we’ll update it once we find something better.

Are Last-Minute Flights Cheaper?

Most of the time, last-minute flights aren’t cheaper. If you happen to choose an airline with a lot of available seats, then you’ll likely benefit from a discount. If the plane’s full of people, you’ll run into inflated prices. It’s best to avoid last-minute flightsunless you need to fly.