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Flights are often the most expensive part of a trip – and no one wants to pay more than they should for plane tickets. The good news is, there are tried and true ways to save money on airfare. Since becoming full-time travelers in 2014, we have learned quite a few tricks to buying flights, which have saved us bundles. To help fellow travelers get the best deals on airline tickets, we are sharing our top tips on booking flights.
How To Find a Cheap Flight
Everyone wants to know how to book cheap flights – and to be honest, there is not just one way to score a deal on airfare. Finding a cheap flight takes some savviness, a little effort and sometimes a bit of luck.
With our flight booking tips, you will be one step closer to booking an affordable plane ticket.
The truth is, if you really want to know how to get a cheap flight, you need to use a combination of our top tips for booking flights so that you can be certain you are not overpaying for your ride in the sky.
Our 17 Best Tips on Booking Flights
We have rounded up our best tips for booking cheap flights. In fact, not only are we sharing our tips for buying plane tickets at the best prices, but we are also detailing our complete, step-by-step method for how to get cheaper flights.
Save, Pin or Bookmark this Booking Flight Tips blog post so you can find it to buy your next cheap plane ticket!
#1 Finding Cheapest Flights: Best Website for Booking Flights
Topping our list of Booking Flight Tips is using flight booking sites. If you want to know how to get the cheapest flight, you need to know where to look online.
Guaranteed, if you learn how to best utilize the most comprehensive airfare websites, you will learn how to get flights for cheap.
What are the Best Sites for Booking Flights?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s chat for a minute about what a booking flights website is.
Websites for booking flights are on-line marketplaces that compare multiple flights by multiple carriers so that you can price shop for the best fares and flight times. This saves you the time of going to each airline website and attempting to price compare on your own.
Best Site for Booking Flights
There are dozens – if not hundreds – of flights booking websites. Choosing the best booking site for flights is essential if you want to seek out the best deals. Not all sites offer the same features – and your specific needs will help you to determine which is the best website for booking flights for your next trip.
That said, we are highlighting what we think are the overall best booking sites for flights.
The Skyscanner website has long been hailed as the best booking flights website. The robust search engine offers amazing features for travelers looking for the absolute best flight deals.
Our favorite feature is the Whole Month price comparison. If your travel dates are flexible (which is one of the hacks for cheap flights that we discuss in more detail later), rather than entering a specific date, the Whole Month calendar displays the cheapest price for every day of the month. You can even search by Cheapest Month (which is helpful if you know exactly where you want to go, but you are searching for the cheapest time to go to that destination).
The second Skyscanner feature that we love to use is Everywhere. In fact, this is one of the best tips on booking cheap flights…if you haven’t yet determined a destination. You enter your departure airport and select Everywhere as the destination – and Skyscanner will show you the cheapest places you can fly from your home city. The Everywhere feature is fantastic for when you are in the mood for a cheap weekend escape.
Google is the most popular search engine in the world, so it’s not surprising that many people rank Google Flights as the best website to book flights at cheap prices. Google Flights is fairly intuitive, easy to use and super fast.
There are heaps of features on Google Flights that will help you find the best airfare at the best price.
One of the coolest features is the fare calendar. After selecting your destination, the calendar shows the cheapest dates to fly. The snapshot view helps you to narrow in on the best air deals before you even begin your search.
Using the Multiple Destination/Airport feature is another fantastic tip for how to get flights cheap. Rather than just searching one city or one airport within a region, you can select up to seven options so that you can search all possibilities simultaneously.
That said, we think the star of Google Flights is the map-based search that shows the lowest airfares from your origination city. Similar to the ‘Everywhere’ feature of Skyscanner, the map gives a quick visual of the lowest priced plane tickets.
FlightHub is also considered to be the best booking website for flights – especially if you know exactly which flight you want. While not as helpful as Skyscanner for seeking out the cheapest flights, there are features that can certainly help you save money.
The most useful feature in Flight Hub is the Price Alert. In fact, you can set a Price Alert for a specific flight, which will deliver emails to you when there are price changes. By tracking the price, you can get the best deal.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a destination or dates in mind, their list of the Best Deals of the Day is an inspirational way to book tickets. The list populates the cheapest flights from your home city to popular destinations. At a quick glance, you can see if there is a cheap flight deal you want to grab!
#2 Tips for Booking a Flight: Book Directly with an Airline
While we think flight websites are great for finding cheaper flights, sometimes the best online booking site for flights is the actual airline website. There are a few reasons why booking direct is one of our best tips for buying airline tickets.
First and foremost, flight search engines don’t always show all of the flights. As a matter of fact, some airlines – like Southwest – don’t appear in flight search engines. Other low-cost carriers in the US – like Allegiant and Spirit – don’t always display their best fares with flight booking engines. Plus, the booking sites for flights only show information based on what you enter – and they sometimes miss plane ticket combinations that would result in a lower fare. Therefore, it is essential to go directly to the airline websites to find the best deals.
Another reason why going directly to an airline website is one of our top tips when booking flights is that there are some benefits that only apply to direct bookings. The most advantageous is the 24-Hour Rule that applies to US flights. If you book directly with the airline at least seven days in advance of the flight, you are granted a 24-hour window in which you can cancel your plane ticket for free.
Other benefits of booking directly with the airline carrier is that if something does go wrong (like cancellations or delays), the actual airline can help get it sorted out and get you on your way. If you book through a third-party, you have to deal with them.
Bonus Cheap Flights Tip: On websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights, you are given the option to book directly with the carrier – and we recommend that you do (as long as there isn’t a big price difference). This way, you can still use the robust search engines, but reap the benefits of booking direct.
#3 Pro Tips to Book Flights: Buy One Way Tickets rather than Roundtrip
Tips to booking cheap flights isn’t just about where you book or who you fly with. As a matter of fact, a few of our top tips on cheap flights are about gaming the system.
One of our best booking flights tips is to always (always, always) check the fare for two one-way tickets, rather than round trip. It takes just a minute or two to price compare booking multiple flights one way rather than roundtrip – and sometimes it can save you heaps of money.
With this method, how to get the cheapest flights may require you to fly (and buy tickets from) two separate airlines. With the right booking engine websites, however, it just takes a few clicks to find one-way airfare tickets for cheap.
Using this tip for how to trick airline websites by opting for one-way tickets has more benefits than just saving money. We also like booking one-way for the flexibility in trip planning; we can opt for the best flight times or choose to fly in one airport and out of another.
Additionally, by booking one-way flights, we can alter one segment of the trip without it effecting the entire flight itinerary. When you book a roundtrip ticket, each leg of the flight must be used; skipping the first (or second, or third) leg of the flight cancels all subsequent legs. Passengers who book one-way flights (or open jaw tickets), however, won’t get caught without a ride home if they skip the initial leg of their journey.
#4 Budget Airfares: Multiple Flights for the Cheapest Route
Piggybacking off our One-Way Cheap Flight Tricks is to use multiple air carriers in multiple legs to get to your destination.
The best way for travelers to find the cheapest air flights with this method is to search for two (or more) one-way tickets enroute to or from a single destination by utilizing a layover. This is another example of an open jaw airline ticket.
So, for example, if you are flying from Los Angeles to New York, instead of booking the trip (with or without layovers) on one ticket, you could book a one-way ticket from LA to Chicago and then another one-way ticket from Chicago to New York – possibly for much less money.
Just keep in mind that this can get really tricky – and be risky, too. You will likely need to collect and transfer any checked luggage on your own. Furthermore, a delay or cancelation in the first leg can cause you to miss the second leg entirely with no recourse from the second airline. Only you can decide if the cost savings are worth it.
#5 Cheapest Travel: Use a Combo of Transport
Sometimes learning how to book cheapest flight is to not only look at flights, but at other types of travel – like trains and buses, too. This works best in places where there is ample public transport – like in Europe and Southeast Asia – which is why it ranks as one of our best Booking International Flight Tips.
Instead of only looking for the cheapest flights, look for a combination of flights, trains and buses that will get you to where you want to be at the lowest cost.
Let’s say that you want to go to Croatia – but there are no cheap flights from your preferred airport. First, use the tips in this article for how to find the cheapest flight to a major city in Europe. Once you find a city you can fly to affordably, then search for one-way plane tickets, trains or buses from that city to your final destination. You might be surprised how cheap you can travel by train or bus versus the cost of a plane ticket to the same destination.
#6 Cheap Flight Tips: Search Alternate Airports
Another one of our best tips for getting cheap flights is to adjust your airport selection. In big cities – like New York City and Chicago, there are multiple airports. Often, it is cheaper to fly into smaller airports that are further away from the city center. Or, for that matter, you can fly into a different city altogether (like Oakland instead of San Francisco or Colorado Springs instead of Denver).
Be aware, however, that this can cut into your vacation time – especially if you just going somewhere for the weekend. On the flip side, flying into one airport and out of another can substantially increase your opportunity for experiences – like a fun road trip from San Francisco to LA, where you fly into SF and out of LA.
Also, if you are booking a route that requires connecting flights, we never recommend booking a flight into one airport and out of another – unless you have an extensive layover time and transport between the two airports is seamless. You will need to do the math to see what works best for your wallet, while still considering your trip experience.
Pro Tip: If you need to rent a car, be sure to read our best hacks to Saving Money On Car Rentals!
#7 Flights for Cheap: Change Your Destination
While finding an alternate airport near your destination is one of the best ways for how to find the best flight deals, completely changing your destination may help you find the cheapest flight of all.
Some destinations – based on popularity and distance – are just more expensive to fly to. If you can’t find a flight within your price range to the place you want to go, choose to go somewhere else.
When planning a beach vacation, the flights to Malibu and Miami might be too expensive, but plane tickets to Myrtle Beach or Galveston could be cheaper. Often times, it is cheaper to fly to underrated destinations.
Perhaps, your destination doesn’t matter at all – you just want (or need!) a getaway. In this case, the tools in Skyscanner – specifically, the Everywhere feature – can help you find the cheapest flights from your location.
#8 Finding the Cheapest Flights: Be Flexible with Days and Times
Just like being open to what airport you fly into, being flexible with your dates and times for flights is another one of the tricks to get cheap flights.
Trying to book cheap flights around the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas), school breaks (Spring Break and 3-Day Weekends) and major events (Mardi Gras and Superbowl) can be tough – if not impossible.
Certain days of the week – like Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays are in high demand by business travelers, which makes those days more expensive, too. Typically, the cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesday and Wednesdays.
In addition to booking travel mid-week, another one of the tips to get cheap flights is to fly during the shoulder season, which in most cases is in the spring and autumn.
Travelers can also score a cheap ticket for flights by taking early morning or late-night flights. The first flights of the day – at 6am or sometimes earlier – are often the least desirable, thus the cheapest flights. Late night flights – and overnight red-eye flights – can also come at a bargain.
#9 Best Days for Booking Flights
One of the top tips to finding cheap flights that has been swirling around for years is book your flight on a certain day of the week. We have long heard that booking flights on Tuesday will get you the best deals…but, to be honest, we haven’t tested this theory enough to find it to be particularly valuable.
In fact, we think that airline pricing algorithms have become far too intelligent in recent years to rely on rumblings of the ‘best day to buy plane tickets’ theory. With all of the tools available – and our top tips for the best way to get a cheap flight – it is possible to find a deal any day of the week.
That said, airlines and economists have analyzed and scrutinized flight prices in order to pin down the best day for booking flights – and it seems that for 2022, that data points to Sunday as the best day to book flights. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!
#10 When to Find Cheap Flights: Book in Advance
Deals on last minute flights are great for spur of the moment travel…but not at all wise for a planned trip. Don’t get me wrong – we love spontaneous last minute flight deals, but we’ve been burned a few too many times when we waited to long to book flights for trips we already had planned.
In our experience, booking the cheapest flights happens when tickets are booked a couple of months in advance of the trip.
For international travel, you could likely find the cheapest flight six months prior to your trip date.
#11 Cheap Airfare Ticket: Don’t Fear Budget Airlines
Without a doubt, one of the top tips for finding cheap flights is to book with a low-cost carrier. In the USA, that means booking a flight with Southwest, Allegiant, Frontier or Spirit (among others).
While these no-frills airlines often have smaller seat space and lack even the most basic amenities (like free water), using them can be the best way to find a cheap flight. While the ride is far from luxurious, they can get you from Point A to Point B for a mere fraction of the price.
Taking flights with budget airlines in countries outside of the US is one of our international flight booking tips, too! For shorter flights, we often use the low-cost airlines in Europe (like Ryan Air, Eurowings and Easy Jet) and Southeast Asia (such as Air Asia and Lion Air) – which sometimes have deals on flights that cost less than train tickets!
One word of caution about booking low-cost flights – they only display their base fare…and then they nickel and dime you for every other aspect of the flight. Customers have to pay more for every single aspect of the flight, like carry-on luggage, seat choice, early boarding, food, drinks and so on.
While it is easy to get reeled in with cheap fares, you can quickly see the price increase with each add on – and the cheapest way to fly just became a pricey ride. One of our top plane ticket buying tips for low-cost carriers is to do everything you can to avoid the extra fees…which brings us to our next tip.
#12 Tips for Cheaper Flights: Minimize Extra Fees
One of the top tips for cheap flights is to minimize any extra fees – and from our experience, the airlines will do everything they can to make you pay more for your flight. If you are prepared, however, you can avoid all the pesky extra fees that airlines try to charge.
First, if checked luggage is not included in the price of the ticket, only pack a carry-on bag. While this can seem like an unsurmountable task, trust us, it is possible! You can use our list of Packing Hacks for tips on how to best minimize your luggage for an upcoming trip. (Some ultra-low cost carriers charge for carry-on bags as well – so check the requirements when booking!).
All airlines have their own rules about what size and weight are allowed – and your can get stung with extra fees if you exceed the allowable limits. Pay attention to measurements and buy a luggage scale to ensure your bag does not extend the airline’s weight limits.
Other tricks to book cheap flights is to forego the seat selection. If you are prepared with all the best flight essentials, then where you sit won’t matter as much.
You should also prepare food for your trip so that you don’t succumb to purchasing overpriced airplane food on board or at the airport. We like to bring healthy snacks – like apples, granola bars and trail mix – to keep us satiated during the flight. As hydration during flight is so important, we also bring our own water bottles with us. Just make sure they are empty when going through security and then find a refill station before boarding your flight.
#13 Flight Booking Tips: Booking Air Miles Flights
We have shared some of our best tips on how to get cheap flights, but there is a way to buy plane tickets without spending any money at all – and that is by using points. In our opinion, using credit card points or airline miles for plane tickets is one of the best Cheapest Flight hacks of all.
Whenever you book a ticket for a flight, you should create an account to earn Frequent Flyer Miles. If you fly the same airline a lot, these points can really add up – and you can use those air miles for booking flights in the future.
Credit Card for Booking Flights
However, the better way to quickly earn points is with a travel credit card. With travel credit cards, points are accrued with every dollar you spend – and several come with huge sign up point bonuses, which gets you to your goal of a free ticket even faster.
While almost all airlines offer their own branded credit card, we actually like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The card offers tons of travel benefits – like No Foreign Transaction Fees, Double Points on Travel purchases, car rental insurance and phenomenal customer service.
We have used our Chase Sapphire for booking flights – but you can redeem points (at a great value!) for many travel related items. The one caveat with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is that there is an annual fee, but the money-saving benefits far outweigh the upfront cost.
Use this link to apply for your Chase Sapphire Credit Card and earn Bonus Points!
#14 Finding Cheap Flights: Promotions, Travel Deals and Fare Mistakes
Searching for flights isn’t the only option for how to find budget airfare…the deals can come to you!
Hands down, one of the best Buying Flight Tickets tips is to subscribe to email lists that offer promotions, travel deals, lowest priced flight of the day and fare mistakes.
The emails from Scott’s Cheap Flights are a great resource for finding cheap flight tickets. They offer a basic free program, as well as a premium membership service. To start getting the Scott’s Cheap Flights emails, you provide your home airport, select your membership level and then wait for the cheapest flights to roll into your inbox!
Other email lists you can join are Airfare Watchdog and The Flight Deal.
#15 How To Get Discounted Flights: Employer and Student Discounts
One of the little-known tips for buying airline tickets is to ask for applicable discounts.
Many large employers offer discounts on certain airlines – travelers just need to inquire with their HR representative to find out if there are any such flight deals. Furthermore, most US carriers, like American Airlines, offer a small discount to college students.
While the discount is usually a small percentage and the flight will need to be booked directly with the airline, all you need to do to get the cheaper airfare is ask!
#16 Travel Booking Tips: Don’t Overthink It
Trying to find the absolute cheapest flight to your destination can be overwhelming. Agonizing over when to find cheapest flights, wondering if prices will go down and worrying that prices will go up can all be very stressful!
Take a deep breath – because you are probably overthinking it. If you are planning a trip, getting the cheapest flight shouldn’t be the end goal. The reason you are planning a vacation is to have a good time – so don’t get too caught up in how to find the cheapest flights.
Using our tips to book cheap flights puts you in the right direction. Our advice will help you find flights cheap – but endlessly searching for the rock-bottom fare is an excruciating task that might not be worth the money you save in the end.
Your time is much better spent by buying a good priced, cheap flight to your destination – and then planning the rest of your trip.
#17 Best Booking Flights Tip: Buy Travel Insurance
If the 2020s have taught us anything, it is that things are unpredictable…and travel plans can change in a hurry. No one wants to get caught paying for a trip they can’t take – even if you did find the absolute cheapest flight ticket.
The best way to protect yourself from losing money on a trip is buy travel insurance. We use World Nomads for our trip insurance. It provides a wide range of coverage – including cancellations and interruptions due to injury and illnesses. Plus, it can cover luggage, gear and medical costs.
With World Nomads, even if you get an airplane ticket cheap, you know the rest of the trip is insured, as well.
Flight Booking Travel Tips: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Airline Tickets
We have shared our best tips for booking cheap flights, but how do you put them into practice? We are sharing our step-by-step process for finding the best airfare using our own flight booking tips. From beginning to end, it takes us about an hour to complete the first four steps of the process – plus two quick tasks 23 hours later.
Step 1: Start Your Search
We start our search for cheap tickets for planes about two months before we want to take our trip. This gives us plenty of time for finding a flight that falls within our travel budget.
As we already mentioned, Skyscanner is our go-to resource for how to get best flight deals. We begin by entering essential criteria – such as preferred departure and destination city and our optimal travel dates.
Step 2: Adjust Search Parameters
Once we have an idea of about how much it will cost, we begin adjusting the search parameters to try to find the tickets cheaper.
We do quick searches for different dates and flight times and we check to see what the price of one-way tickets are, too. Then we look for alternate routes, different airports and a combination of transport methods to find the cheapest flights.
Step 3: Check Airline Website Directly
Before booking the cheapest flight, we hop onto the airline websites to do a little more research.
First, we check to see if there are any other dates, times and combinations that would result in getting tickets cheaper than what we already found through Skyscanner. Second, we also look into budget airlines that might not appear in flight search engine websites.
Finally, before we move on to the next step – actually booking the cheap flight – we do a quick search for accommodations to make sure we can find somewhere to stay within our price range.
Step 4: Book the Cheap Flight
If we have points to use, we will examine if it is better to use the points…or earn more points with our travel credit card.
After utilizing all of our tricks to getting cheap flights and are confident that we have done our due diligence in finding the cheapest ways to fly, we book the best flight!
Step 5: Double Check and Buy Insurance…Then Start Planning!
If the flight qualifies for the 24-Hour Rule, after booking, we put a reminder in our calendar to check back in 23 hours. This gives us enough time to do a quick search to see if we can get the airline ticket cheaper.
Once we are satisfied that we got the best tickets at the cheapest price, we insure our trip with World Nomads. Finally, we start planning the rest of our trip – like where to stay, what to do and all the other fun details of trip planning!
Travel Tips for Booking a Trip
Our tips on how to find best deals on flights is just one step in the travel planning process. In addition to our flight booking tips, we have a multitude of other trip planning advice that can help you plan your perfect trip.
Another key aspect of planning a trip is deciding what to do. We have designed detailed trip itineraries and city walking tours for destinations worldwide. Check on our Destinations Page to see if we have a travel guide for your trip.
Wondering what other activities you should include on your trip? You can use Viator to find top tours and fun activities for your vacation. Happy Trip Planning!
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