#book a cheap flight
How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible to Anywhere
November 13, 2014
We ve all experienced the tiresome, repeated searching when trying to book the cheapest possible flights to any given destination. With endless search engines and continually fluctuating prices, the approach to frugal flight booking is overwhelming. Here s some key tips that will save you time, frustration and most importantly money when booking your next flight.
1. Keep your searches top secret
You re not crazy for thinking that a flight price has changed after searching it a few times in your web browser. Based on the cookies in your browser, flight prices do increase when a particular route is repeatedly searched, as the site wants to scare you into booking the flight quickly before prices get even higher. Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest prices .
In Google Chrome or Safari, incognito is enabled by hitting Command (or Control if using PC), Shift, N . For Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit Command (or Control if using a PC), Shift, P . This will open a new browser window where your information is not tracked, thus not inflating prices as you search. Note: if you re using an older version of OS X, open Safari then click Safari in the menu bar, and select Private Browsing .
Your cookies are reset each time you re-open an incognito window. So if you want to start with a clean slate for each flight search (so your previous searches aren t remembered , potentially inflating costs), close all your incognito windows, open a new one, and then perform your flight search .
2. Use the best flight search engines
All search engines have inflated flight costs as part of taking a cut from the airlines. Some search engines (cough, Expedia) consistently inflate much higher than others (listed below). It pays to familiarise yourself with sites that offer the best prices.
Use These to Book
- JetRadar (includes budget airlines. which many search engines don t)
- Azair (Europe Middle East)
- Webjet – Note: only use this site to search. then book directly through the airline, as WebJet will add an additional booking surcharge
Although we ve listed broad search engines here, note that many do not include budget airlines. If this is what you re after, do an additional search for regional budget airlines (we ve listed as many we know of further below).
Finally, no single search engine is consistently perfect (though we find Skyscanner to be pretty good). As such, you may need to try a combination of search engines to ensure you re not missing any results. There doesn t seem to be one that gets the cheapest flight 100% of the time.
3. Identify the cheapest day to fly out
While many theories exist around booking specifically on a Tuesday to save money, the reality is there is no consistent truth to exactly which days are cheapest to fly. Most of the time it is cheaper to leave on a weekday, though this isn t always the case. Your best strategy is to get a quick visual of prices for a whole month to see what days are cheapest for your specific route. Here s how:
Step 2. Enter your departure arrival cities
Step 3. Select one-way (even if flying round trip – you re just determining the cheapest days to fly out first)
Step 4. Click Depart but instead of entering a date, select Whole Month so you can see which date is cheapest
Step 5. Hit search and see which date is cheapest. Sometimes not all dates have a price listed, as indicated by the magnifying glasses. If you want to see a price that isn t shown, simply click on the magnifying glass over the date.
Repeat these steps for your return flight if applicable. You can still book a round trip in one cluster, but doing these steps first will let you see which dates are generally cheaper to fly in/out on for your round trip.
Google Flights works similarly to Skyscanner (though you can t actually book flights on it), plus has a map view as well so you can see where the airport is. For tracking when and where is cheapest to fly, Hopper and Flyr also offer price analysis and track fluctuations (i.e. when is best to fly).
4. Befriend budget airlines
Budget airlines offer significantly cheaper tickets than their full-service counterparts. It should be obvious, but this comes with compromises such as less leg room and no free food/drink on-board (which by the way, is normally covered in your higher-priced ticket with full-service airlines).
If you are considering flying budget, which in our opinion is a great way to save, I d highly recommend reading our guide on 7 must-know facts about budget airlines .
Below is a comprehensive list of budget airlines around the globe. Red indicates true budget airlines while blue implies the cheapest companies available where budget airlines don t exist or aren t plentiful.
But First A NOTE ON BOOKING BUDGET AIRLINES. Always read the fine print and do the following:
- Check where the airport location is (some budget airlines fly to airports further out of town).
- Ensure you ve booked paid for your luggage allowance. Adhere to restrictions on weight. height. and # of bags allowed . Some airlines (e.g. Ryanair) will charge hefty fee if you re over. Newsflash: paying only for the exact luggage space/weight you need is how budget airlines keep their prices lower than traditional airlines!
- Read the fine print. The best example is that Ryanair WILL CHARGE A FEE if you do not print your own ticket or adhere to their strict luggage weight and dimensions. A warning of this fee is clearly stated in all capital letters in the first sentence of your e-confirmation, so no, they are not exactly scammers.
Remember, if you want to book the cheapest flight possible (not service-of-the-year-award-winner), be adaptable, do your research, and know the budget airline s requirements restrictions.