How To Find Cheap Airfares | April 2024

Securing cheap flights is important for many travellers, especially when working with a tighter budget. Costs of flying can significantly impact travel plans, whether just a quick trip or a longer international journey.

This article will provide you with valuable insights into how to find the most economical options for your next trip.

In this article, you will learn about:

– How to navigate your search for budget-friendly air travel and the importance of this.

– Great techniques and strategies to identify cheap flight deals.

– The best times to book flights, and how to stay flexible with travel plans.

– The advantages of being savvy with flight pricing tricks.

– Steps you can take to apply this knowledge, securing lower-priced tickets for your trips in the future.

Table of Contents

How to Find Cheap Airfares

When starting your quest to find cheap flights, it’s important to understand various factors influencing airline prices. The first step is to use flight search engines in an effective way. 

These platforms aggregate data from different airlines, offering a range of options at different prices. Searching for flights in ‘incognito’ or private browsing mode can prevent the price increasing because of your search history, potentially saving money.

Tips to Find Cheap Airfares

Flight prices fluctuate frequently, so finding an affordable airfare can sometimes feel like pure luck. However, there are things, as suggested below, that you can do to boost your chances of getting that good deal. 

Book Early 

– Booking flights several months ahead of time means you are more likely to take advantage of airline sales or discounted flights offered well before the actual travel date. 

– Keep an eye out for any mistaken fares that may be incredibly cheap because of a pricing error – you can snap these up to save large amounts.

Be Flexible

– You might want to consider flying midweek rather than weekends, as demand and therefore prices tend to be less for these flights.

– Similarly, look at flying slightly earlier or later in the day, as pricing ranges greatly depending on specific travel times. Even a few hours can make a difference in savings.

You can also watch this video on Youtube here.

Use Price Tracking Tools

– Flight search engines such as Skyscanner offer price alerts telling you when chosen flight prices drop below a set level, allowing you to jump on deals straight away.

Google Flights lets you monitor routes, spotting cheap upcoming dates quickly using its graph functionality. 

Check Budget Airlines  

– Budget airlines like easyJet and Ryanair offer much cheaper, basic flights around Europe, charging much below many standard fares.

– However, be aware of any extra fees such as charging for checked bags or seat assignments that can often be added on these sites. You want to make sure the fare stays the cheapest option once these are added.  

Take Advantage of Sales

– You can also sign up for airline and price comparison site newsletters, being directly notified when sales periods are open for a limited time with discounted fares.

– Follow your preferred airlines and travel companies on social media for similar alerts on their flash sales and deals.

Best Times to Book for Lower Prices

Timing can make all the difference when trying to save money on flights. Generally, it can be cheaper to book flights several weeks or even months before your trip.

For international flights, it’s a good idea to book 2-3 months in advance, while domestic flights should be booked at least 1-2 months beforehand to book the best deals. 

However, the price isn’t just about how far in advance you book, but also the day of the week,  time of year as well as time of day.Travel experts suggest the cheapest days to fly are usually mid-week, lowest on a Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Avoiding peak travel times such as school holidays or bank holiday weekends can also help to reduce flight costs. You can also stay updated on the best deals by getting alerts from flight search engines.

Low cost airlines and budget flights are more likely to release the cheapest tickets first, meaning early birds tend to catch the best flight deals and lowest prices. 

Setting up alerts or being added to their mailing can inform you of any price drops. Sometimes though booking a last-minute deal, while quite risky, can help you get an amazing deal if airlines are looking to fill up seats.

Tips for Flexible Travel Dates and Destinations

Tips for Flexible Travel Dates and Destinations

Flexibility unlocks many opportunities to find the cheapest international and domestic flights. If your travel dates are not completely set, use the flexible dates feature on flight search engines, helping you to identify the cheapest days to fly out and return, different quite a lot from week to week.

Considering alternative nearby airports can also help to find much cheaper flights. For example, flying out of a different airport in your departure city or landing at a secondary airport near your final destination can sometimes offer a more cost-efficient flight. 

Also, some budget airlines fly exclusively from specific airports, possibly not coming up in a more general flight search.If you’re open to exploring different destinations, you can look for filtering tools like ‘flights to anywhere’ or ‘search flights everywhere’, provided on platforms like Google Flights. 

This approach can find unexpected destinations with cheap flight deals aligning to your budget, particularly for those seeking adventure or simply trying to get the cheapest price for a getaway.

"Timing can make all the difference when trying to save money on flights."

Using Flight Comparison Websites Effectively

Flight comparison websites are powerful tools when wanting to find cheap flights. They put together prices from various airlines and booking platforms, allowing instant comparison of the different prices and offers. 

When using these search engines, always remember to check for additional costs such as baggage fees or foreign transaction fees that can add to the final flight cost.It can also be beneficial to use multiple flight search engines, because they don’t all show the same deals. 

Some may have exclusive partnerships with certain airlines, whilst others might be better at showing the cheapest prices. By cross-referencing, you will ensure you’re getting the cheapest flight available and the best deal out there.

Lastly, you might consider using price alerts on these comparison websites. By setting up alerts or being added to their mailing list for your wanted routes and travel dates, you’ll be notified when flight deals and sales are available, allowing you to book flights at the very lowest price. 

Remember to always book directly with the airline wherever possible, as this can sometimes offer a better rate than through third-party travel agencies who may add commission.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Finding Cheap Airfares

Advantages and Disadvantages of Finding Cheap Airfares

When pursuing affordable travel, it’s important to know the pros and cons of cheap airlines. Some of these will be outlined below, allowing travellers to make well-informed decisions that best suit their needs and circumstances.

Advantages of Finding Cheap Airfares

1) Cost Savings

– Securing a cheap flight can leave more money in your budget for other travel experiences, such as accommodation or dining. Saving on the flight can bring a more enriched travel experience or the possibility to stay away for longer.

– Budget flights can make travel more accessible to people that might otherwise have these destinations out of their financial reach.

2) More Travel Opportunities

– With the extra money saved from booking the cheapest flights, travellers might afford additional trips, bringing a chance to explore more destinations with the same budget.

– Cheap fares can encourage spontaneous travel, giving individuals the freedom to book last-minute deals unexpectedly without bringing significant financial impact.

3) Explore Multiple Destinations

– Finding cheap connecting flights can contribute to unexpected layovers in cities not originally planned for, offering more travel experiences and spontaneity.

– When match airlines offer discounts for multiple bookings, travellers can plan these multi-city trips at a lot less than normal.

4) Access to Peak Season Travel

– Booking early or finding discounted flights can make travelling during peak season more attainable. This means not missing out on the best weather, cultural events, or school holiday getaways.

– Special promotions and flight deals can help reduce the price during these peak times.

5) Flying with Reputable Airlines

– Deals with full service airlines such as United Airlines or Singapore Airlines can be found, especially far in advance providing a comfortable experience at a lower cost.

– Partner airlines may offer promotions on the same flight, allowing added benefits like frequent flyer points.

6) Flexibility Leads to Better Deals

– Being flexible with your trip dates, and considering long haul flights with stops can help you get cheaper tickets.

– If you’re willing to fly with stops or with separate airlines you can often find better deals than those relying on nonstop flights exclusively.

7) Hidden Deals and Strategies

– Knowing about techniques like hidden city ticketing can unlock deals not typically found through conventional searching.

– Budget flights and last-minute deals are not always widely advertised, so those who know where to look can get amazing bargains.

Disadvantages of Finding Cheap Airfares

Disadvantages of Finding Cheap Airfares

1) Time-Consuming Searches

– Searching for the cheapest flights often requires time and effort, often involving comparison of numerous websites and keeping track of price fluctuations.

– You’ll need to frequently check multiple search engines, waiting for the best deals to come up, which can be a significant time investment.

2) Less Direct Routes

– Opting for the cheapest ticket often means you have to accept longer travel times because of layovers or connecting flights.

– This can lead to increased travel fatigue or potentially higher transit costs.

3) Additional Fees

– Budget airlines tend to have lower base prices, but may charge extra for baggage, seat selection, or even onboard refreshments.

– Travellers need to be wary of hidden costs that can accumulate into a not so cheap flight after all.

4) Rigid Travel Plans

– Cheap fares often come with strict conditions, with large fees for changing or cancelling a flight. This leaves little room for flexibility.

– Booking a cheap last-minute flight may limit your options for travel insurance or pre-travel vaccinations, which can be a consideration particularly for international flights.

5) Limited Flight Times and Airports

– The cheapest price may only be available for flights at inconvenient times of day, such as very late at night or early in the morning.

– Also, departure airports for budget flights might be further away from the city centre or your final destination, increasing travel time and costs to and from the airport.

6) Risk of Cancellations and Changes

– Airlines can offer discounts knowing that flights could be overbooked or changed, significantly disrupting travel plans.

– If an airline cancels a flight, those who have booked the cheapest option may be the last to be rebooked or compensated, if ever.

7) Comfort and Experience

– Budget airlines often fly with less legroom and fewer amenities, which is often not ideal for longer or overnight flights.

– Separate airlines may not coordinate in the event of delays, which can make you miss a connection and bring quite a bit of stress. 

Strategies for Last Minute Flight Deals

Strategies for Last Minute Flight Deals

When looking for cheap last minute flights, it’s a good idea to know where to search for the best deals. Many airlines reduce prices just before departure to fill all their seats, offering opportunities to book late at a lower cost. 

Although booking cheap flights at the last minute can be risky, travel agencies and flight comparison websites sometimes come out with exclusive last minute deals. 

To find the cheapest fare possible, flexibility with travel dates and destinations is a key strategy to be open to these last minute bargains.

You should also be prepared to fly with different airlines to open up a broader range of discounted flight options. It’s not unusual for separate airlines to offer competitive pricing on the same routes, especially for longer haul travel.

Benefits of Nonstop Flights vs Connecting Flights

Choosing a nonstop flight can save time, thus reducing the stress often occurring with layovers. Direct flights also remove any risk of missing a connecting flight because of delays, particularly advantageous for those on a tight schedule.

However, a connecting flight can often help save significant amounts, possibly even offering a chance to explore an additional city. 

It’s quite common for flights with a stopover to come at a lower price than their direct alternative, proving them an attractive option if you’re a budget-conscious traveller.

When searching for the best flight deals on a budget, it can be worthwhile to compare the price difference between nonstop flights and those with connections. Sometimes the savings are substantial enough to justify the extra travel time, depending on your preferences.

Hidden City Ticketing and Its Risks

Hidden city ticketing is a strategy often used by savvy travellers as a way to get cheap flights. You can book a flight with a connection and exit at the stopover point, then sometimes securing a lower fare than if they booked a direct flight to the connecting city.

This practice, while tempting, of course comes with risks such as the airline possibly cancelling the remainder of your ticket if they discover the intention behind your booking.

Additionally, checked luggage may travel to the final destination on the ticket, so this method is only possible if you have carry-on bags.

Airlines do not allow hidden city ticketing, and will penalise travellers if they find them using this tactic, so it’s essential to weigh the potential savings against the risks. It’s also important to read the terms and conditions outlined of your ticket, including the airline’s policy on such practices.

Finding the Cheapest Flights from Departure Airports

Finding the Cheapest Flights from Departure Airports

When trying to find the cheapest flights, consider all the flights departing from nearby airports to you. Sometimes travelling a bit further to a different departure airport can give you a much better deal, especially if it’s an airport specified for budget airlines.

Departure airports can have a significant impact on the overall cost of travelling. For example, flying from a major international airport may be more expensive because of the higher volume of flights and airlines it has on offer.

It’s also beneficial to sign up for price alerts from the nearest departure airports. These can notify you with any price drops for destinations on your travel wishlist, helping you get cheap flights without needing to constantly search.

A Case Study on Finding Affordable Long Haul Flights

The following example should help illustrate  a practical application of using strategies to secure affordable flights, particularly relatable for UK travellers.

John, from Manchester, needed to plan a long haul flight to Singapore for a family wedding. He had a limited travel budget, but was determined to find the cheapest flight possible without compromising too much on comfort for the overnight journey.

He started his search months in advance, comparing prices for different airlines and considering various departure airports within the UK using flight search engines.

He signed up for price alerts on these sites,  keeping an eye out for deals with airlines offering long haul travel, like Singapore Airlines. To increase chances of securing his deal, he was flexible with his travel dates, allowing him to snap up a great deal on a flight that left in the middle of the week.

John was aware of hidden city fares, but chose not to use this approach because of the risks involved. He focused instead on finding a fare with the same airline for both legs of the journey, accumulating a lot of frequent flyer miles.

This patience and flexibility paid off, and he secured a flight that was both affordable and convenient for him, meaning he could enjoy the family festivities with less financial stress.

Key Takeaways and Learnings

The following points summarise the main strategies and considerations for securing budget-friendly flights that were mentioned in this article.

– Start your search early, staying flexible with your travel dates to increase your chances of finding the best deals.

– Use flight comparison websites and set up price alerts with them to be informed straight away about fare reductions.

– Consider flying with budget airlines or possibly taking connecting flights to save money.

– Check if travelling from nearby or alternative airports may offer cheaper flight options.

– Avoid peak travel seasons, looking for mid-week flights to take advantage of the cheapest days to fly.

– Be aware of any hidden costs from low-cost carriers, like baggage fees and seat selection charges.

– Stay informed about different strategies, such as hidden city ticketing, whilst also being aware of the risks.

– Sign up for airline newsletters and loyalty programmes to receive up-to-date notifications about discounts and special promotions as they come in.

– Keep an eye out for last minute deals if your travel plans allow for a bit of spontaneity.

– Research nonstop flights compared to connecting flights to assess which offers better value for money.

Overall, finding cheap airfares requires a mix of smart planning, flexibility, and a willingness to research. While the search can take some time, the potential savings can lead to significant savings in your travel budget. 

Being well-informed about these different strategies of securing affordable flights will serve you well, whether planning a short domestic trip or a more complex international journey. 

Remember to consider both the advantages and potential drawbacks of various booking strategies to make sure that your travel experience aligns with your expectations and needs.

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William Jackson

William is a leading writer for our site, specialising in both finance and health sectors.

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