How to find the best cheap deals for flights?
Updated: May 9
Close your eyes. Imagine the rustling feeling of sand between your toes on a warm beach or listen to the fire crackling in a cosy cottage in the mountains. Whichever you prefer, the first step is booking that flight. But HOW do you snatch the best deal out of mid-air?
Let The Walking Parrot help you with that! You've probably heard a lot of advice, secrets, and tips on how to save money on plane tickets. Some recommend this, others that, while others refute everything and have their own secrets. We have combined the best tips following our own expertise.
Continue reading to learn everything you'll need!
Discover with us:
It truly is an art to be able to find the best flight prices. Later in this article, we will even assist you in the booking process, step by step. To begin, we need to clarify a few points to assist you in your search:
Flexibility with the date and time
Another thing to remember is to be flexible with the date and time. Morning and evening flights are among the most affordable but do not stick with one specific hour or day. Be flexible and adjust yourself so that you can get the best deal! Don’t stick to your exact vacation days because you might miss great options.
If you are about to look for your flight ticket Skyscanner is the place to go. Easy, full of filters to precise your search. If you don’t know yet where to go it will suggest you great deals anywhere in the world. Another website we recommend is Momondo is a great user-friendly portal that stays up to date with the best flying deals. The graph at the top is based on current prices and offers a great visual of fluctuating prices. Momondo is especially useful for Asian destinations.
Another important point is to plan ahead of time. On average, the best time to book flights is 22 days in advance. However, in general, the earlier you begin planning and checking your tickets, the more likely you are to get the best price. That doesn't mean you won't be able to find last-minute deals, but when you plan ahead, you'll have more options and flexibility to score cheap flights.
Incognito mode + VPN
We recommend going into incognito mode on Google Chrome to continue your search. This way your previous search history and stored cookies won’t be tracked by ticket sites. Incognito mode is the easiest way to keep an eye out for changing flight prices. Another option is the use of a VPN, a service that protects your internet connection and privacy online by not specifying your physical location. This service is a great addition to general internet privacy but won’t make a lasting impression when booking flights.
Use search engines to help you find the best flight at the best price. From our experience, we recommend Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights, and Secret Flying the most. These platforms are the easiest to navigate and will show you all airlines that can fly to a specific location on various dates and under multiple conditions.
Willingness to travel away from peak season
Be willing to travel during the shoulder season and outside of the location's busiest times. You will undoubtedly find some of the best and cheapest deals during the shoulder season than during the holidays. Being flexible in your planning means scoring better accommodation AND activities. Opportunities are everywhere!
Airlines newsletter + notification
Subscribe to the airline's newsletters and turn on notifications for discounts or promotions if you want to find the best possible deals for a specific location or city. Newsletters are especially helpful when considering flying with low-cost airlines since they tend to surprise with flashy promotions. As a result, you will always be informed and receive the best deals!
How to find the best offers?
Consider the best offer and not just the cheapest flight.
Sometimes seeing the low price of a flight make us feel encouraged to book it immediately as we think this is the best opportunity for us to travel. A low number is tempting but be aware - a cheap price doesn’t always mean the best deal. The cheapest flights tend to be the worst flights. So, be sure to take a look at the bigger picture: Are you able to arrive at the airport in the early hours? Do you really want that window seat? If you don’t mind spending five hours on a layover, the world’s your oyster.
Compare ticket scanner websites, but always book directly.
Beware of third-party ticket scanning websites. Metasearch websites such as Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kiwi, or Cheapflights are doing a great job by giving a great overview of available flights. Google flights for instance is a great way to search by region and compare flexible dates. Keep in mind to use these services only to search for flights but when you are ready to book the ticket do it directly through the airline page. Always book directly with the airline, even if it’s not the cheapest option. That way, you’re sure of the validity of your ticket and are able to receive customer support when in need.
The best season/time to travel
The general rule when booking a flight is better too early than too late. Flights are usually available a year in advance and prices tend to fluctuate throughout the year. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no worse time than last-minute. Prices tend to spike sharply, taking advantage of last-minute travellers who have no other option than to pay up.
As mentioned previously we can highlight three main periods for travelling: high, shoulder, and low season. Travelling is always weather-dependent. High season is the period when a place is most popular to travel to because the weather is most attractive. Low season is exactly the opposite and comes with its price. Low season is usually the least desirable moment to be at a certain location for good reason. Think of monsoon season, high heat or closed ski resorts. Your BEST options are in shoulder season. This is the season right after and before high season, once the holiday peak has been reached. These times are mostly dependent on the location you’re heading to. If you’re heading to Thailand, the peak high season is between November and February, so book at least three months ahead. The same goes for similar destinations in the eastern hemisphere. When booking a flight, you should generally be aware of these peak travel periods and grab a flight the soonest as you can.
Buying cheap airline tickets can be done in many different ways, getting them cheaper might just require a bit more effort. Below are several ways to get a discount on airline tickets. These following tips will come in handy if you’re a frequent flyer. If not, maybe these will work as a motivating factor.
One way to get a discount is to convert your frequent flyer miles into a cash discount. This will reduce the cost of a ticket.
Using Credit card
Another way is by gathering points on your credit card. This will allow you to access travel portals and see if your points have greater value there.
The Points Guy is an American travel website and blog that produces sponsored news and stories about travel, collecting and using points and miles from airlines, politics and credit cards, and in particular about credit card reviews. In other words, it explains how best to use miles and credit cards to get discounts.
So we will point you to this website if you would like to learn more about this.
Here is the link: https://thepointsguy.com/
Mistakes to avoid
Who doesn't want to travel as cheaply as possible? Below are some tips that you should definitely not do!
Booking flights through search websites
As mentioned before, you should not use the websites you found cheap tickets on to book your tickets. Problems often occur within these websites and portals such as Kiwi and Skyscanner offer no help when flights get cancelled.
Only use these websites to see when the flights will be the cheapest and then book through the official airline.
Last minute or very early booking
Ticket prices fluctuate depending on distance, season and destination. A general rule is to book your short-distance flights seven to eight weeks in advance. And when going the long-haul, five months to three weeks in advance is the best time to book.
Booking on weekends
Don’t book flight tickets on a weekend. Saturdays and Sundays see an increase in people visiting booking websites in their spare time. Look for flights in the midweek, between Tuesday and Thursday. If you want to be more precise, the perfect time to book is between 4 and 6 on a Wednesday morning.
Booking in August
Looking for affordable flights? Don’t book in August. This summer month is right at the peak of the holiday season. It is generally unwise to set your mind on a specific date. Check which months and days are the cheapest and perhaps enjoy an unconventional holiday, with the help of the websites described above.
Book your flight ticket step by step
You can take a look at the prepared by us booking process step by step.
A great place to take off is secretflying.com. This site updates regularly on the cheapest flights and offers a wide range of destinations, primarily in Europe. Depending on your airport of origin, consider some neighbouring airports that are easily accessible. When flying from Warsaw, consider taking off on your journey from Berlin or Stockholm for example. Once you have selected multiple options as a take-off point you will see many destinations around the world on offer and the most affordable times to jet off. This is a great way to get inspired as a spontaneous adventurer. Pick and choose what’s on offer.
Let’s say that our post about Malta greatly inspired you to book a flight to the magical island. Firstly, you start by deciding on a travel period. Sticking to the rules mentioned previously Malta’s shoulder season is around May or September. Go to secretflying.com and fill in Valetta as your destination without your departing location and see what’s on offer.
With the information just gathered head to Skyscanner and click around. Fill in the dates and departures that were most attractive on secretflying.com and start comparing. The key to a great flight ticket is staying flexible, but remember that the cost should justify the effort.
Found a great deal through Skyscanner? Head to the airline and start packing your bags. Don’t worry if you notice any difference in prices. Single tickets will always end up being more expensive than a return flight.
Booking process step by step
The following steps should help every travel opportunist out there:
Take-off at secretflying.com.
We recommend starting your search here. This site offers a wide range of destinations and countless opportunities.
Fill in your airport of origin.
Depending on your airport of origin, consider some neighbouring airports that are easily accessible.
Take a look at what’s out there.
Once you have selected multiple options as a take-off point you will see tons of destinations around the world. Get inspired and make a decision.
Turn incognito and head to Skyscanner.
With the information just gathered head to Skyscanner and start clicking around in incognito mode. Fill in the dates and departures that were most attractive on secretflying.com and start comparing.
Look around for some great prices in shoulder season and start comparing specific dates. The key to a great flight ticket is staying flexible, but remember that the cost should justify the effort.
Buy your tickets with the official airline.
Don’t worry if you notice any difference in prices. Single tickets will always end up being more expensive than a return flight.
Now that you know how to safely and cheaply secure tickets for your next adventure, it’s time to decide where to head to. Use our tips and easily find the best cheap deal for your flight ticket. If you don't know where to go next get inspired by our guides to Bern, Zurich, or Sevilla. Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to stay updated on everything we have to offer!