Plane tickets are often the single largest expense when it comes to traveling, but they can also result in some serious savings if you know where and how to look. Depending on your travel dates and times, your preferred airlines and destinations, and your ideal budget and interests, there are a number of different ways to find cheap fares. In this article, we’ll be discussing the 10 best tips for finding cheap flights so you can spend less and travel more.

1. Be flexible with your dates and times of travel.

Searching just a couple of days before and after your desired dates of departure and return can save you hundreds or even thousands of euros. If you are planning a weekend getaway, you’re not the only one who would like to fly out on Friday afternoon and return home on Sunday evening. The same is true for the holidays – from Christmas and New Year’s Eve to Easter and other school breaks. Ticket prices will skyrocket around the holiday season, but there are usually big savings on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday itself.

In general, flight prices are based on a simple system of supply and demand. If more people want to fly on your specific dates, the ticket prices will match this demand and be significantly more expensive. Similarly, if more people want to fly during the daytime, the ticket prices will skyrocket during these ideal travel hours.

A simple rule to remember is that ‘inconvenience saves money’.

If your main priority is to fly as cheaply as possible, you will want to fly when no one else wants to fly. Typically this means waking up for an early morning flight at 6am, taking a long-haul red-eye flight, or traveling in the middle of the work week.

2. Be flexible with your travel destinations.

If you know when you want to fly but you aren’t set on where you want to go, you may be able to land some pretty affordable tickets to a handful of awesome destinations. Many search engines now give you the option to input your travel dates and place of departure, along with your budget, and leave the destination field blank.

Some of the most popular websites to use for these types of searches are Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kiwi, and Kayak. After filling out your details, the travel aggregator will generate a map showing the cities that match your search criteria. You can sometimes narrow the search results by interest as well, such as city break, beach vacation, or snowy adventure.

Cheap flights to this winter wonderland (Levi, Finland) were found using Skyscanner.net
Cheap flights to this winter wonderland (Levi, Finland) were found using Skyscanner.net

One important consideration when booking these types of flights is to research the cost of living at your potential destination before purchasing your ticket. Even though the price of the flight is cheap, the cost of food, accommodation, and activities in the city can very quickly add up if you are not aware of it.

3. Track cheapest flight prices over a period of time.

There used to be a consensus that booking on a Tuesday would result in the cheapest fares, but there is no proof to say whether or not that was ever true. If you are flexible on either your travel dates and times or your travel destinations, you can sign up for fare alerts or use a ‘track prices’ feature to ensure you are getting the lowest fares possible for your desired route.

By signing up for fare alerts, you will receive fare updates straight to your inbox as soon as there is any movement in price. Alternatively, the ‘track prices’ feature displays the flight price across a period of time and allows you to predict any future fare adjustments. Another option is to use the low-fare calendar option to view the ticket price for an entire month, either in a calendar format or in a chart. With this information, you can simply select the cheapest day to fly.

Flight prices can change drastically from one day to the next so if you have your eye on a specific flight, you’ll want to be checking the price constantly, or checking your inbox if you have registered your email for fare alerts. Popular search engines for tracking prices over longer time periods include Kayak, Skyscanner, and Skiplagged.

4. Look for alternative travel routes.

It’s always nice to fly direct, but it’s often more expensive too. By adding a layover and a few extra hours to your travel itinerary, you can quickly save hundreds of euros on your journey. This is especially useful if you are committed to certain travel dates and times or specific departure and arrival airports. If you can’t be flexible on dates and destinations, which is often the case for events such as weddings or holidays such as Christmas, the next best option is to be flexible on the route you take to get there.

When planning alternative travel routes, there are some important considerations to ensure that all goes well with your connection.

The first is to give yourself an adequate amount of time for your connection, especially if you are using a different airline for the second leg of your journey. In the event that you are late for your connecting flight, the airline will not refund your ticket because they had nothing to do with the first half of your itinerary.

The second is to make sure you that you have the appropriate paperwork if you plan to switch planes in a country that requires visas or other documentation. Usually, layover passengers will not need to obtain a visa, but it is an important consideration that you should be aware of.

5. Choose budget airlines.

Budget airlines will get you from point A to point B at an affordable price, but anything more will cost you. Some of the most popular budget airlines are Norwegian Air, WOW Air, AirAsia, Ryanair, and EasyJet. These companies will charge for things such as carry-on luggage, checked bags, seat selection, and even food and water during the flight.

Norwegian Air premium economy seat
Norwegian Air Boeing 787 premium economy seat

Budget airlines allow you to fly for a fraction of the price, but always read the fine print and familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your ticket. The way that low-cost airlines make money, at least a good portion of it, is from the hefty fees they surprise their passengers with at the airport. The most popular ones to be aware of are overweight luggage and oversized carry-on items. These fees can run upwards of 100 euros and can quickly cost you more than the plane ticket itself.

If you are looking to fly on budget airlines, it’s good to know that they don’t always post their cheapest fares directly on search engines. Therefore, it is always smart to check the airline’s homepage and book directly through the airline if possible. Sometimes their fares are so good that it wouldn’t make sense for search engines to earn commission on them. Alternatively, you can call the airline’s booking number and speak with an agent directly. Agents can sometimes offer you low fares that are not available to the public.

6. Research the airports at your desired destination.

Many cities have multiple airports, especially capitals and big cities which need to cater to a large number of travelers. These additional airports, however, may lie up to two hours away from where you actually want to be so always check the location of the airport before you book. The cost of transportation to get you from the faraway airport to the city center can be expensive.

Budget airlines, in particular, often fly into these distant airports and while the flight itself may be cheap, don’t let that tempt you. When you factor in the additional travel time and the extra transportation costs, you may actually end up spending more than if you had flown to the more accessible airport with a different airline.

7. Know the functions of the search engine you are using.

No two search engines are made exactly the same and the functions of one website may be more or less helpful than another depending on your specific travel needs. Momondo is popular for its trip finder function, which allows you to fly wherever, whenever. Google Flights and Kiwi also allow you to do this. Other search engines have more unique options which are specific to them and are therefore only available on their websites.

Find cheap flights using Google Flights explorer tool
Find cheap flights using Google Flights explorer tool

Skyscanner, for example, is handy for identifying budget airline flights in Europe because it includes low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet in its search. Not all search engines include these budget airlines, and even if they do, not all of them show the cheapest available rates. This is because some ticket prices are so low that the travel aggregator wouldn’t make any commission on the fares. This is why you are sometimes better off to book directly through the airline.

Skiplagged, on the other hand, is best known for exposing loopholes in airfare pricing by providing skiplagged rates’. This function allows you to find flights with a layover in your target destination and only fly the first leg of the ticket you book. Say you want to fly from London to Oslo and the cheapest fare is a flight from London to Copenhagen with a layover in Oslo, Skiplagged will show you this fare. They call it a ‘hidden city ticket’ and their ability to locate these deals is what Skiplagged is known for.

8. Use the appropriate search engine.

Once you are familiar with the pros and cons of the various search engines, it is imperative that you use the best one for your specific travel needs. Simply put, there is no best flight search engine for all destinations but there are better choices for certain travel needs. It is therefore important to do your research and use the travel aggregator that is right for you.

Expedia, for example, is known to inflate their prices, but they also have a good customer loyalty program and great customer service so in that sense, you get what you pay for. Expedia also allows you to book cars, cruises, hotels, and more, and if you bundle these services together, you can get significant savings. A lesser known search engine such as JustFly will often have awful customer service and if you need to change or cancel your flight, they will either ignore you or give you a very hard time.

9. Look for special deals.

There are always deals to be found on flights and there are always multiple ways to find them. One way is to sign up for mailing lists to receive special rates straight to your inbox from the airlines and search engines that are of interest to you.  So remember to follow us on Twitter (@euroflightdeals) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/euroflightdeals) to maximize your chances of seeing the new deals as soon as they are posted.

Cheap flights are often only valid for a short period of time or only have a limited number of tickets available so you want to act fast!

10. Found cheap flights – just go.

When you find cheap flights, book them.

Life’s too short for second-guessing and waiting for the perfect timing. Fill your calendar with weekend getaways and well-deserved vacations, wherever the cheapest flights may take you. By booking some travels in advance, you can score some significant savings. Generally speaking, tickets are cheapest about six weeks before departure, so while you don’t want to wait too long, you also don’t want to book too early.

Lastly, don’t hesitate. Even just a moment of hesitation could result in a missed opportunity to land the cheapest fares.

And there you have it, the 10 best tips to find cheap flights! To sum them up in a few words – be flexible, be smart, and be adventurous.

Cheap flights are out there if you know where to look and if you choose to implement these tips, you’ll be flying around the world in no time. Good luck!

What are your best tricks for finding cheap flights?