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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 tickets, we are sharing our top tips on booking flights.
Our Best Tips On Booking Flights
Everyone wants to know how to book cheap flights – and to be honest, there is not just one way to score a deal. We recommend using a combination of our top tips for booking flights so that you can be certain you are not overpaying for the ride.
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What are the Best Sites for Booking Flights?
Topping our list of Booking Flight Tips is using flight booking sites. 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 two 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, rather than entering a specific date, the Whole Month calendar displays the cheapest price for every day of the month – and 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.
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 deal you want to grab!
Tips for Booking a Flight Directly with an Airline
Sometimes the best online booking site for flights is the actual airline website. This is especially true in the case of low cost carriers – like Southwest. They don’t work with flight booking engines, so in order to find their fares, you have to go directly to their website.
A 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, like carry on luggage, seat choice, early boarding, food, 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.
Pro Tips to Book Flights
Tips to booking cheap flights isn’t just about where you book or who you fly with. As a matter of fact, two of our top tips on cheap flights are about gaming the system.
One Way Tickets
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.
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. Or, for that matter, you can fly into a different city altogether (like Colorado Springs instead of Denver) and rent a car.
Be aware, however, that this can cut into your vacation time – especially if you just going somewhere for the weekend. Also, if you are booking 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.
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 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 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 stated 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. 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 place to fill them before getting on the plane.
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. 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.
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 this year, that data points to Saturday.
Other information they have gained is how far out you should book your flight and the best month to book travel. You can read about it here.
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 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 60,000 Bonus Points!
We Want To Know: Do you have any tips for finding cheap flights? Share your best Cheap Flight Tips in the comments below!
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