The period of economical cheap affordable travel is an extinct animal, well maybe not during the corona virus pandemic — where you can find flights for pennies on the dollar that used to cost hundreds if not thousands. With flights eating up the bigggest portion of your travel budget, finding that elusive cheap travel deal is just as crucial as finding the right place to stay, choosing the right gear and/or picking the perfect location!
Reasons why flights not during a pandemic are so costly vary from bankruptcy to no incentive. Lets face it, companies are in business to make a profit, and with slashed airline routes, overbooked flights there is less of an incentive to lower prices.
Whatever the case, the dealer isn’t pulling from the bottom of the deck. Just like at a casino the house may have the odds in their favor, but if you adhere to these simple travel guidelines you’ll be scoring dirt cheap flights on a regular basis. Because everyday airlines “mistakenly,” or so they say, publish the wrong fare price. Offer up last minute deals just to book an otherwise unbookable flight. Along with normal every day deals if you know how to look for them.
10 Essential Travel Guidelines to Finding Super Cheap Flights and Smoking Affordable Airfare Deals
Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates
The biggest mistake rookie travelers make to their travel budget is trying to book exact dates, flights and destinations. They soon come to find out that the more flexible you are in these three categories the more money you will save.
Why does it matter? Flying during the middle of week is cheaper than flying over the weekend! Because most people can’t afford to take off work for travel. So they reserve their travel plans for weekend getaways.
Not only do you have to consider the day of the week, time of year, or upcoming holidays, but you also have to consider other countries travel habits and holidays. For example, August is a massive travel month overseas as thats when most Europeans take their vacation. But, its also a high demand flight month here in the states because of all the college kids relocating for school.
The best way to find cheap flights is to use a booking portal that offers a monthly calendar view. Like the one found on Momondo. This allows you to check flight prices for multiple dates, and ensures you book the cheapest flight available.
You can also find cheaper flights if you fly immediately after a major holiday when most people are still enjoying their vacation or time with family in sme far off destination. Choosing to fly early in the morning or late at night can also net you discounted flights.
The bottom line, is you will never find discounted airfare rates if you are not flexible with your dates of travel dates. I’ve grown foundly over my travel days. Because I travel with such flexibility that when the airlines announce a bonus deal for any traveler willing to give up their seat for what ever reason I immediately volunteer.
My travel days feel a lot like a riddle leaving me with no idea when I’ll get to where ever it is I’m traveling too, or even how I will get there. Because of my overt flexibility last year it took me over a week to fly round trip from Minnesota to Australia for a measly $13.
Would you trade 6 days of hotel rooms and airport food to save over $2,000 on airline tickets?
Be Flexible With Your Destinations
Just like your travel dates you also need to be flexible with your destinations. You don’t need to be a logistical genius to realize its cheaper to fly to major city airline hub than some small town satellite hub.
Kayak offers an “explore” tool allowing you to see the best airfares from your home town to a variety of destinations. Google flights allows you to search for airfares using nothing more than a departure city! Making it super easy to find outgoing flight deals.
Kiwi & Tequila, no I’m not about to tell you about a night out in New Zealand, make it even easier to find cheap flights by using your IP address to show you all the available travel deals from your area. Follow this link to check it out.
My family would argue with me that deals are rare events, but there’s always a deal. I’m not just talking flights either. Whatever your trying to purchase as long as you’re flexible and use the right tools you can always find a deal.
Cherry Pick Cheap Flight Destinations
If you haven’t noticed flexibility is the key to scoring cheap flights, and my ultimate low fare finding tip is something I like to call, “cherry picking.”
This entails booking a flight or a combination of flights where my destination city is a layover of another flight. Trust me when I say you can find some scorching cheap flights when booking your travel this way.
Direct flights are always the most expensive, and direct flights with no layovers are usually even more expensive.
So what I like to do is search for flights from other major cities to my destination until I find the cheapest airfare available. Once I’ve zerod in on the city that offers the cheapest flights to my destination I then begin searching flights with layovers to that city.
Scoring Cheap Flights Like A Pro
For example, lets say I wanted to fly to Dallas, Texas from Minneapolis, MN. The cheapest flight I can find to Dallas is out of Chicago & Atlanta. So I’ll start looking for cheap flights from Minnesota to any destination with layovers in Atlanta or Chicago.
In this example, I would probably book a cheap flight from Minneapolis to Detroit with a layover in Chicago, and hop off the plane in Chicago to grab a flight to Dallas. Using this travel guideline helps me to find afforadable airfare for cheaper than booking flights from Minneapolis to Dallas. Did you know Las Vegas offers cheap one-way flights to Hawaii, and who can’t find cheap airfare to Las Vegas?
Cherry picking takes a little getting used to, but the more flexible you are the easier it is to find dirt cheap airline deals!
Check Alternative Routes
One angle that really pays off when trying to cherry pick a flight plan are budget airlines. It helps to be flexible with your travel plans, but extending that flexibility into the route you take can save you tons of money.
Sometimes its even cheaper to fly to your destination by way of a budget airline. You may need to take a major airline to one city, and then hop on a budget flight from that city to your destination. Add in the layover trick to either flight plan and you couldn turn a $1,000 airfare into a $300 itinerary.
I know its a foreign concept here in America, but even we have budget airlines. A couple of years ago I found a smoking deal on an RV just outside of Denver, and through Spirit Airlines $9 fare finder club I was able to fly out for only $36. This winter I had to spend an extra day in the airport, and book a night at the hostel in Florida to fly down to the USVI for a mere $78 from Seattle. Instead of spending $700 I spent less than $100. Last week I just booked a round trip ticket on Frontier Airlines for a whopping $54!
If you use the tools, guidelines, tricks and resources I’ve laid out so far anyone can find some great low airfare deals! The key is massive flexibility. It may mean more flying time, more airport time, or even more hostel/hotel time, but all of that means more savings on your next flight too.
Fly With Budget Carriers
In America, there are only a few budget airlines like Spirit, JetBlue and Frontier Air. Who force you to fly with no baggage, no assigned seating and no amenities so they can call themselves “budget airlines.”
In Southeast Asia, you can fly to Australia for under $120, or as little as $30 to Kuala Lumpur. Europe is over run with budget airlines that keep airline fares way down. America has yet to produce a true competitive budget airline that resembles anything like its International counterparts.
International Budget Airlines
Foreign budget airlines though, are now taking on more and more long-haul routes. Making it more feasible to travel around the globe with a smaller travel budget. WOW air offers affordable flights from London to America, or America to Iceland and vice versa. You can fly from Europe to Bangkok for as little as $150 on multiple airlines such as Norwegian, Air Asia and Air Ryan. African airlines are courting travelers with low airfares around the Middle East and throughout the continent!
Not All Booking Portals Are Owned By The Same Corporation
The greatest lie ever told is that travel is expensive, and one of the reasons why is shady business practice. Most Americans book their travel plans using 1 of 4 major booking portals (Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Kayak).
I hope your sitting down because all 4 of these booking portals are owned by the same company! Not only are they owned by the same company they work closely with the airlines to ensure ticket price points fall in the same neighborhood as one another. Ready for the real kicker? None of these 4 booking portals will show you budget airline options because they don’t get a commision from them.
Booking an airline ticket is already like playing the stock market. You can find an acceptable price. Go check a few other sites. Come back and that price is no longer available. Ever wonder why? Bet you don’t anymore!
As big of a deteriant as that is you need to check multiple sites to ensure you’re finding the cheapest airfare available. There is no perfect airline booking search engine. All of them have their pros & cons. Most American booking sites won’t display any budget airlines, and international airline booking sites can’t cover every region of the world for every airline. They all have their faults, and some are bigger than others.
For finding the cheapest flights available I recommend using a combination of Skyscanner, Expedia and my favorite Momondo. As an honorable mention naming your own price on priceline isn’t what it once was, but if you don’t mind hanging out in stand-by all day you can grab some incredible airline deals.
Take Advantage of Group and Student Discounts
American’s have two age groups that have all kinds of discounts available to them. Anyone under 26, and anyone over 65 have tons of travel discounts they can explore. Through agencies like AARP, STA TRavel, Studen Universe, Travel Cuts, Flight Centre all offer discounts to these age groups. Most airlines even offer a direct senior citizen discount airfare. All you have to do is ask.
Sign Up For A Frequent Flier Program
Discounted airfare is great, but nothing beats free airfare. And the only way to get free flights is to sign up for an airline rewards program. Whether you are based in the US or a foreign country if you travel its in your best interest to sign up for any of the free airline reward programs.
If you only fly once a year or once a week an airline rewards program offers free upgrades, free lounge pass, free buddy passes and best of free flights. All for doing what you’re already doing.
You even acrue rewards for flying on partner airlines. For example, Singapore Airlines is a United Airlines partner. Air France is in cohutes with Delta. No matter who you fly with or where you flying out of every airline has a rewards program you should sign up for.
Not only can you earn miles from flying, but you can earn miles through special sign up bonuses, shopping, dining and select entertainment venues.
I get emails all the time from Capital One telling me about extra miles I can earn this month for dining out, or shopping at select companies. Telling me if I spend a $500 on fuel I will recieve 2,000 Delta airline miles or whoever they are promoting that month. Last month if I spent $100 at the Hyatt I could transfer all of my airline miles for hotel points.
There is no limit to the creativity companies utilize to offer you airline miles through their reward programs. You don’t have to do anything special to benefit from their own micro-economy stimulus packages. All you have to do is put your daily purchases on whatever card is offering the best rewards that month.
Join Airline Membership Programs
Not keen on getting a credit card? Thats ok you can still reap the rewards of an airline membership program.
Spirit Airlines offers a $9 fare finder club. You pay $36/year and get exclusive everyday airfare deals to destinations around the country for as low as $9 for a one way fare!! No black out dates. No fine print. No special circumstance. You don’t need to be left handed with purple hair and blue tongue.
You just logon and see what the fares are. That is how I was able to fly to Denver for $36. Frontier offers a similar program, and thats how I was able to book my brother a round trip flight for only $54.
America may not have the most conventional budget airlines, but you can still find cheap flights every day if you know what your doing.
Pull The Trigger Immediately On A Cheap Flight
I am a firm believer in airlines should adopt the “Taxi” pricing model. Where all fares are based off mileage and not some digital algorithm, but I am also clearly in the minority here.
When it comes to searching for a flight deal have a price point in mind. We all know airfare prices fluctuate like stocks. Stop trying to save an extra $100 and costing yourself $500. Just book the flight when its in the same ballpark as the price point your comfortable with .
I used to spend hours and days searching airline booking portals for the aboslute cheapest flight. Sometimes I would find it a couple of dollars cheaper a couple of days later. Talk about not valuing your time. Other times I would end up costing myself a few hundred dollars here and there. When you see a ticket within striking range of your price point just pull the trigger.
Don’t set yourself up for buyer’s remorse. Everyone pays a different price for the same flight. Its a lot like a gym membership without any of the negotiation. Once you see airfare thats considered a cheap flight, book it! Don’t chase dollars and time to save pennies!
Myth of Early Booking
Remember when I told you the greatest lie ever told was that travel is expensive? Well the second biggest lie is that there is some secret way to book a cheap flight. Once upon a time that may have been the case, but in today’s digital world there is no such thing as a universal trick to finding cheap airline tickets.
There is no such thing as, “Book your ticket 7 days in advance to get the cheapest airfare.” Anyone that tells you that either doesn’t know, or is blatanly lying to you.
There is no such thing as fly in/out on Tuesday’s for the cheapest flights. Again once upon a time.
Today’s airfares are all based off algorithm’s that track your IP address, search demands, location, travel history, payment history and much much more. There is no tricking a computer program, or companies that are in cohutes with one another. If two airlines get together and say we are not selling this flight for less than $180 good luck finding a $175 ticket!
The old school myths of finding cheap airline tickets are DEAD!!! An extinct animal that will never resurface!
Instead of looking for a magic recipe to finding the cheapest airfare just be practical, flexible and proactive. Use the tools I’ve mentioned above. Practice the travel guidelines I’ve laid out for you, and implement the tips I provided. So you can find cheaper flights than the next person. Use the resources that I use, like Momondo, Kiwi & Skyscanner to avoid being the person on your flight who spend the most on their airline ticket.
Skyscanner is my favorite International airline booking portal.
Kiwi is my favorite “wanna get away” last minute deals booking portal.
Momondo is my favorite all round domesitc and international airling booking portal that is my first stop no matter what my travel plans are, and it should be yours too!