We are all very well aware of how tiring one can get while searching for the cheap flight tickets. Airline tickets are the biggest aspect of a trip and for those who are passionate about exploring new destinations, traveling should never stop. Repeated searches for the cheapest possible flights on endless search engines and fluctuating prices of the airline tickets makes it difficult for you to decide about your next destination. Afterall, if the airfares are expensive, you are not going anywhere.
Finding some great hidden deals can be as important as finding the right destination or the right place to stay. If you want to travel, then there is no way you should wait for the off season when the airlines come up with some special fares. Airlines have thousands of deals everyday, be it unpublished rates or special promotions, you just need to know how to find them. And if you know these tricks you can get discounts on every flight booking, all year round.
Today, I am going to help you to master the tricks for finding cheap flights in 2020. I have been following these for years and they surely have helped me in finding the cheapest airfare possible. These tips will save your time and money when booking for your next trip. So all the travel enthusiasts like me, get ready to tick a new destination off your bucket list.
HERE WE GO WITH MY BEST TRICKS
Book Early, But Not Too Early
If you have decided on the dates for travel, the first thing to do is to book airline tickets. It might sound cliche, but there is no better way. Although there is a small trick or exception to this. The ideal window for booking the flights is within 30-90 days in advance. Airline tickets tend to increase, the closer you get to your departure, prices might not go up by a huge margin but definitely they are not coming down. Waiting for the price to go down is little difficult so if you are reserving your seat early will save you money.
Also people tend to spend hours searching on different booking sites and are not able to make the final call. So for them, my suggestion will be, set your budget which you are willing to spend on your flight tickets and once you get close to it, just book it. You should never second-guess yourself. This will just make you crazy and you will end up losing the deal. Booking the flight tickets early always gets you the best discounted fares. Set your destination and dates, once you get something within your budget, grab it. But do follow all these trips prior to booking.
Use Incognito Mode
Airlines have been using smart systems now-a-days which follow dynamic pricing, wherein the airlines keep changing the pricing as per the demand and supply. Hence, now you can understand why flight prices change after you search for it a few times in your web browser. And how this happens, due to the cookies in your browser. Cookies are meant to keep track of the user’s activity on any website(includes logging in, searches, products in cart, particular buttons, etc). Therefore, before making any searches it is best to use either Incognito Mode which is available in chrome or else private browsing. Another thing which you can do is by deleting the history and cookies before searching for cheap flights.
Whenever you are searching for a particular flight, and if you keep searching it for the next couple of hours or for that matter even for the next few days, the airlines or any search engine website understands that there is a demand for this particular flight. And suddenly, the next thing you will see is an increased price.
This practice of airline or search engine websites is more applicable when you are using the mobile apps. The apps tend to ask you to sign in before you can use them, which makes easy for them to track. Try not to use mobile apps for searching. Use mobile apps for booking, numerous times airlines or the booking engines do offer some discount codes which are only for mobile apps and can reduce your cost around 5-10%.
Try Flexible Dates and Odd Hours
If you don’t have any confirmed dates I would suggest checking the pricing for the whole month. Checking the dates 2-3 dates earlier or later than your planned dates can also help you. As we all know, airline tickets vary depending upon the day of the week, time of the year and holidays like Christmas, Diwali or New year. However, one sure shot tip is to fly off season. Although there are other ways like according to many international studies on airline tickets, traveling on weekdays, Tuesday and Wednesday often gets you the cheapest deals.
Whenever you are searching on the web browser, you can first search for your exact dates and then try to edit or change the dates, you can also see the calendar for the whole month to get the best price. I have searched on google flights from New Delhi to Mumbai. As you can see, it will give you the entire month pricing where you can select them as per your itinerary.
Also you can easily get the same kind of information on Skyscanner as well. Also you can check in graph format. You can also use the mobile apps and view the price chart and do the booking accordingly.
One more thing which you can try is to fly during odd hours. Yes, a lot of people don’t like to fly early mornings or late nights and here is the golden chance for travelers to steal the deal. Flying solo without any time commitments can surely take advantage of this. You can be more open about the time of your flight and crack a cheaper deal.
Be Flexible With Your Destinations
Not flexible with your dates and still need something in your budget, this hack will definitely be useful. Be flexible with your destinations. Earlier we really didn’t have any option to check the flight tickets like we can do now. We need to have our pre-selected destinations and then we used to select one of them whichever comes out to be in our budget. However it’s different now-a-days, you can just insert your dates of travel and select anywhere and you get all the flight tickets prices to anywhere in the world. You can drag the map and the price will get updated for that place/country.
Kiwi.com is actually a great tool to save some big bucks when it comes to traveling internationally. Just go on the website and select your departure city and keep the arrival city as anywhere, and it will show you hundreds of results. You can even filter your destination under Things to do, you get options like nature, night life, sports, beaches, adventure, family, etc. Selecting the filter will show you the results accordingly. I prefer to use kiwi for international searches.
Also you have the same option on google flights. I prefer to use google flights when I have to check for my destination within India. Although you will not find any filter option like kiwi does. But again it’s a good tool to use it for your travel needs. It gives me good and cheap flight ticket options when traveling within India and you can just drag the map to show the pricing for some other country/continent.
Skyscanner does have the same data but they represent it in a different way and somehow I liked it too. Once you put the required field and put ‘everywhere’ on the arrival city, it shows you the list of countries both domestic and international. Later you can open that country slider and get more options inside for different cities within the country. Also they have a small guide for every city in the list.
Rather than changing the dates of your trip, changing the destination is more handy, unless you have made up your mind for a specific place. In that case you will have to play around with the dates. You will always get a deal if you are flexible on where you want to go, this is the truth about cheap tickets, there is always a deal to some destination.
Use Flight Search Engines
Like it is said good things don’t come easy. To crack a cheaper flight ticket deal, you have to search multiple websites to make sure you are leaving no stone unturned. Always remember to use these search engines before you book, no matter how much hurry you are in. Moreover, you will find that many search sites don’t list regional or budgeted carriers, since they don’t pay commission to them. One thing to remember, not all search engines are created equally and all have their own pros and cons. In short you can say there is no perfect search engine. You will have to try a few combinations of different flight search engines to ensure you get the cheapest. But we have a list of search engines which shows all the carriers around the world and I have a few favourites.
- Skyscanner – This is my top pick for all my searches be it domestic or international. They have a great user interface and app for mobile. I have found some great cheap tickets 80% of times.
- Momondo – This will be my second pick for searching internationally and first pick if I am searching within the United States. This search engines have almost all the airlines and websites in the world and gives the best results. I usually compare skyscanner and momondo for my international travels.
- Bargainairticket – This is the best option if you are searching for the flight within India for your journey. I personally have found some great cheap flight tickets through them. This is the only website in India which offers you metasearch as per my knowledge. Although you can just search on it but for making the booking you get to choose from all the major airlines and websites operating from India like Makemytrip, Yatra, Happyeasygo, Goibibo and many more.
- Airfare Watchdog – You can find some sales and error fares on the website, but again useful for the United States and Canada. The website is great for finding mistake pricing as they combine slashed ticket prices in one spot.
- Kiwi.com – This website combines all the airlines to create routes for you which are cheaper than booking with just 1 airlines. Kiwi.com helps you to mix and match airlines. Although it is said not to book with airlines which are not associated with each other or in airline term it is called Interline agreement. In case of multiple airlines, if one leg with one airline gets delayed or cancelled for some reason than the next connection with other airline will be missed and the airline won’t be responsible for reschedule however in these cases kiwi.com takes the ownership. They offer their own guarantee which covers schedule changes, flight delays and cancellations. I haven’t had used their services but this really sound appealing.
- AirWander – This website again turns out to be life savior. It lets you extend layovers into stopovers, which means you can visit two destinations within a single trip. Although you need to check for the visa for that country where your stopover is. You can even book multi-day layovers.
- Jetradar – This website includes low cost or budgeted carriers as well which are not shown by flight search engines.
- Google Flights – It is actually a good tool to quickly compare flights. Also you can search for multiple destinations and multiple airlines as well. However I have not found any good prices on it yet.
Fly Low-Cost Carriers
Budget Airlines or Low cost carriers offer significantly cheaper tickets than major airlines. Most of the airline search engines do not show local airlines. However you have to compromise on the service like legroom space, free meal/drink and luggage. Nowadays even budget airlines are covering long-haul routes, making it possible to fly around the world within budget.
Although traveling in budgeted carriers will save you but also before booking make sure you go throw the points below :
- Check for the airport location, some airlines fly out of regional airports which can be out of town.
- Pay for your luggage beforehand, you will be charged for both carry-on and check-in, hence make the payment while booking the flight.
- Pay for the seat while making the booking if you are not traveling alone, some airlines do charge for the seats as well, Spirit Airlines is one of them.
- Read the policies for cancellation and flight delays to ensure you get reimbursed or scheduled on other flights in these scenarios.
- Check in case you need to take the printout of your ticket, Ryanair charges in case you don’t have a printout. To conclude, read and follow all the instructions and policies.
Do your research and know the airline’s requirements and restrictions to avoid any extra charges and be adaptable if you want to book cheap flights. Here are few budgeted/low-cost carriers in the world.
Pro Tip : Always add up the cost of the ticket and the fees including seat and luggage to ensure that the cost is lower than a major airline carrier.
- Air Asia
- Tiger Air
- Hong Kong Express
- Vietnam Airlines
- Spice Jet
- Nok Air
- Jeju Air
- Spring Airlines
- Vanilla Air
- Dragon Air
Use Miles or Card Offers
Many airlines offer with the Reward Programs to its flyers and are a great way to save money. If you are a frequent flyer of a particular airline, you earn air miles/points as a loyalty by the airlines. And this is the easiest way to book cheap tickets. Irrespective of how many times you fly, you should always sign up for the airline’s reward program. These points can really help you in traveling. You can sign up for Spice Club or Air India Loyalty Reward. Likewise you have American Advantage Program, Delta Skymiles, United Mileage Plus and many more. You can get free flights, free upgrades and free companion tickets too. You can use these points for traveling to domestic destinations and if you happen to earn more, you can even qualify for a free flight to your favourite destination.
Although, you can earn more number of miles if you are using travel credit cards. Use your card for everyday purchases, it can give you thousands of miles every year without flying. The perks remains the same as miles but the difference is you can earn more points through the card. If you are smart with your money and collect points, you can travel for very little. Although the best is to go for a card which is accepted internationally, this way you can earn more number of points through your transactions plus you get saved from the foreign transaction fee as well.
How you can select the best travel credit cards is a little difficult task, however as a beginner the best one for you will be Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can see the benefits it offers to you below.
Also if you are living in India then also no need to worry because we do have some good credit card which serves the same purpose. Here are the best credit cards available for indian travelers. Although the one I had and personally suits my need is the Citibank Premier Miles Card. You can consider this card if you want maximum airline options and travel frequently.
Also you can search on google for your card offers, let’s say you have ICICI Credit/Debit card so you can search for ICICI card offer on flight tickets and you will get all the latest offers, alternatively you can check for the same offers on Makemytrip under deals, Goibibo offers or Yatra offers..
Subscribe For Fare Alerts and Newsletters
You get the option to subscribe to the fare alerts from all major airline search engines. They will send you an email when the price changes so you can track the prices of your desired flight. You can always select these alerts atleast 6 months prior to your departure date so in case if some crazy deals comes up you won’t miss it. Bargainairticket allows you to set the price alert for your desired itinerary and at the same time you get an option to get their favourite deals from your departure city. If your departure city is Delhi and you go for favourite deals then you get all the deals from Delhi to anywhere and also for your itinerary. Isn’t it cool?
Airline Newsletter is also a very good trick when you need cheap flights. You can sign-up with airlines and also with intermediary websites for the various offers. Yes you will be getting a lot of emails about all the offers and if you are someone who doesn’t mind that, yes this trick is for you. I personally like fare alerts more than newsletter since newsletters are sent randomly and most of the times doesn’t serve the itinerary I am looking for. Although it is very helpful in saving a few bucks because you get to know about the ongoing sale. You can subscribe to both as well afterall there is no harm in searching for all the possible options.
Book Directly With Airlines
If you have checked for all the other parameters and you are not getting any discounts or cashbacks on websites like Makemytrip, Paytm, Goibibo, Yatra, Ixigo, etc, then it is a good idea to go on the airline’s website and book directly with them. These websites get commission from the airlines whenever you make any flight booking with them however they do put their fee on top of the price. Once you have searched for your flight, go on the airlines website and make the search for the same flight, you might end up getting the same ticket for less. Although it won’t be a huge difference in the price. These intermediate websites charge a higher amount of convenience fees as compared to the airlines, and in case there are no discounts applicable you end up paying more with these websites.
Here is an example of the same however this is just a one way flight so the difference will not be that much but in some cases the price difference is more than 500 INR.
Search For Special Fares and Coupons
There are a lot of flight search engines where you can get special fares because sometimes airlines make mistakes by publishing their fares. Airfare Watchdog and Secret Flying are a great source when it comes to finding mistakes or sales fares. You should know where you can find them and when you have your destination decided, look on these platforms in case you can save some serious bucks on your tickets. Also you can use the approach of pricing your flights for the entire month on Skyscanner which can again benefit you in finding some special deals.
Here is a deal which I found today on Secret Flying which was on 03Jan 2020 and likewise you can sign-up with them or download their mobile app and get all the latest deals.
Another option is to find some coupons. Actually we all should do this before making the final purchase of your flight. You can find some offers on booking round trip or international booking or domestic booking and sometimes it is offered on the total booking cost. Searching for these coupons will not take more than 5 minutes, and you need to do this towards the end. Also you can go on the Offer pages of these different intermediate websites like Makemytrip, Goibibo, Yatra, Cleartrip as they always have some or the other offer running.
Moreover you can also search on various coupon websites like Coupondunia, Couponzguru, Groupon, etc. Similarly, you can just google according to your country like if you are in London then you can search on google for ‘flight coupon website for UK’
Don’t Always Fly Direct, Try Connecting Flights
If you can be flexible with your route if not flexible with dates and destinations, this can also lead to saving some good bucks. The best way to go can be taking a major airline to a particular destination and then hopping on to the budgeted airlines to reach your final destination, it can get you a real cheap flight. Although there will be the hassle of checking out and checking in again, and if you don’t mind then sure go for it. Many times we all have connecting flights and have to change the plane to reach our destination, this trick can come handy whenever you have connection in between. It will take some of your time but will be worth it.
You can take help from Kiwi.com and Airwander which offers multiple airlines options and save your money. But make sure you have kept enough time for check-out and check-in. Go with 4 hours time in connection so in case of long queue or some other issue, you won’t miss your connecting flight. Understand one thing that the second airline won’t care if you are late and won’t even allow you on next flight unless you pay the penalty.
Also you can take a long layover and create an additional destination to your trip. Kiwi.com is the perfect website in this case. Also they take the ownership that in cases of any schedule changes, flight delays and cancellations they will put you on another flight as long as you inform them when you get to know about the changes or delays.
Subscribe To Cheap Flight Mailing List
There are a lot of websites where you can sign up and they will send you all the great deals with every airline on a regular basis. I have signed up for all these below and I receive regular emails from them. Also there is an option where you can pay a subscription fee and they will send you deals on a daily basis, for free account it is 3 deals in a week. This is actually one of the best ways to find a cheap flight because they are the one who are doing all your homework. They also send you last minute deals and special or mistake fares published by airlines but many times these deals are available only for a limited time. So you will have to grab them fast so keep checking the emails which you receive from them.
The Flight Deal – For global flight deals
Scott’s Cheap Flights – Best for USA flight deals
Secret Flying – Another global flight deals
Jack’s Flight Club – For UK and Europe flight deals
Cheap Flight Club – For USA and Canada flight deals
Mix and Match
Agreed, it is easy to just book with one airline or with its partnered airlines. But the truth is, the price of your flight ticket is always calculated by the major airline involved in the itinerary. If you make extra efforts and check if the other connection is being offered by some budget airlines, you can surely crack a cheaper deal but be open about the timings. Booking different airlines and mixing them will make you keep separate tickets for them but if you are saving money then it won’t bother you. Many booking websites play tricks by showing you the same airline for your ticket. They show only limited options and only major airlines and their partners wherein the price of the ticket is always high. We have Kiwi.com which shines by which it mixes and matches airlines in order to book cheap flights for you.
Usually we all know that booking two tickets with different airlines to reach at your destination can be risky. Because of the fact that if by any given reason, the first flight is delayed so the second leg will be missed and if you have separate tickets for both, then you cannot do anything about that. And that’s where Kiwi.com comes in picture, they give you guarantee for any flight cancellations, flight delays and schedule changes, they will offer you a different flight for no extra charge. All you have to do is to inform them as soon as you are aware of the delays or cancellation.
Search In Other Currencies
Many travelers use this option to get cheaper fares however this trick does not always work. So before booking a flight, you can consider if the rate is cheaper if you are paying in other currencies. Now next time whenever you are booking your flight tickets, make sure you check if you can pay in any other currency which is cheaper than your own. There are two points which you need to keep in mind while using this trick.
- Make sure your currency is stronger and doing well.
- Use a no foreign transaction fee card to avoid paying surcharge.
Use Wallets for Payments
This trick will be more useful for Indian travelers. We have so many different online wallets and because of the increase in competition, they all offer you some great discounts when you use them. Paytm, Freecharge, Mobikwik, Paypal, Phonepe, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, many more. These wallets gives you cashback most of the time on all your purchases including flights. Make sure you check on your booking portal if they accept these modes of payment, and it can save you some extra bucks.
Also just like you have digital wallets, many intermediate websites like Makemytrip, Goibibo, Yatra have virtual wallets. The wallets were first started by Goibibo where they used to give almost 100% of the booking amount as Gocash and it can be used towards future purchases. But now the trend has passed on and is used by others too. However, you cannot use the entire amount from your wallet but only a decided percentage from that. The amount of virtual cash you can use is listed on their terms and conditions. Although it might not make much of a difference but every penny counts. The virtual cash is also used against hotel bookings.
Also the amounts in these wallets cannot be transferred to the bank so it stays there until you use it on the same platform.
But the Ixigo app is coming into trend because they give cashback to your citrus wallet which can be transferred to the bank. So it’s more of a real cashback.
To summarize, there are a few points which you should keep in mind.
- Once you think you have got the deal, just book it. Don’t wait for the price to go down. You can try for some discounts only if you think it’s worth the time.
- Don’t spend too much time searching and analyzing the flights. People tend to search for the same fights daily and sometimes more on various platforms. If your time is really valuable, book your ticket once it matches with your budget.
- Always consider the complete journey which means from point A to B. Taking a 8 hours long layover to reduce the cost, doesn’t really make sense. Why? Because you will be spending the money on food, lounge or some other entertainment at the airport.
- Keep in mind that not all the above mentioned points will work on a single itinerary. Some might not even be useful for you. Open your options and try to use these more on international flight tickets.
- If you are someone who likes to eat food and need more legroom space. Try to book these before only. This reduces the cost of these services. The food in domestic flight costs about 300 Rs and if you pre-book, it’s 200Rs or 250Rs. Same goes for upgrades.
- Whenever you are booking your tickets, make sure you book round trip tickets. Two one-way tickets are usually more expensive than one round trip ticket.
Let me know if I missed some tricks?