June 26, 2016

SECRETS TO FINDING CHEAP AIRFARE


Since I always have people ask me how I find cheap airfare, I thought I would write a post about it.  Below are some tips to the sites that I use and why I use them.   I'm not going to go into earning airline miles in this post, I'll save that for a later post.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I fly cheap on Spirit Airlines.  There are other airlines that have similar cheaper flights and you can save a lot of money using them.  Just keep in mind that there are trade-offs for the cheap fares such as no free food or beverages. I have a listed links to some of these airlines below.



Check Fares Often 
Airlines change fares constantly, often multiple times a week. So when it comes to buying an airline ticket, timing is everything. To get the best deals you will need to check airfare sites often.  I have about three sites that I check at least once a day.  The price of a fare can change in a few seconds (many times the price will change while you are looking at the fare).  I was looking at an airfare to Morocco which was listed at $167 and the price jumped to $850 after a few of minutes.  

Be Flexible
You can save hundreds of dollars by being flexible on your dates and destinations.  Here is a random example I pulled up on Skyscanner
As you can see by the above pics, the date you plan to depart and return makes a huge difference in price.   ( A note about Skyscanner  - the return price changes depending on the date  you choose for departure.)

If you don't care when or where you go as long as the fare is low, try a flexible date search.  There are two great sites for this type of search: Skyscanner and Kayak Explore.  Both allow you to search by date and or destination.

You can see how Skyscanner works from the photos above so below I posted a screenshot of Kayak Explore.  

For this search I chose New York as my starting point.  As you can see, there are blue flags all over the world.  There are also blue dots which represent more prices which you can see as you zoom in on  the map.


If you click on a flag, it will bring up a box with the cheapest dates highlighted. Don't worry, you can search for other dates but as you do your daily searches (remember me mentioning that earlier?)  you will see a pattern of where you can fly for the cheapest rate.



Clicking on the orange "find flights" box will carry you to Kayak where you will see and can book the actual flight.  Keep in mind that airlines can change their prices quickly and it may take other sites a while to catch up with the price change.  That is why you will always see a + sign next to the price.






Where to Find the Best Deals

There are several sites I use when searching for low airfare.  My favorites are Kayak Explore, Skyscanner, and Secret Flying.  I will post more details about these sites below.  You can't just rely on one source for the best deals.  There may be a great deal on one site that doesn't show up on another.  

When to Find the Best Deals
This may sound obvious but summer is peak season for travel and therefore, everything cost more.  In some tropical locations, winter is considered peak season. Either way, you will pay more if you travel during peak time.  You will also pay more during holidays.  

For some people, being flexible is not an option.  Summer may be the only time you have to take a vacation.  If this is the case, you will have a much harder time finding a good deal. It's not impossible, it will just be more challenging.  

Take Two Flights to Get to Your Destination
This may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes it's cheaper to fly to one location and then fly to your final destination.  For example, I am going to Rome in October.  Here are my two options to get there and the costs. 

Option # 1  Purchase a ticket from Dallas to Rome - $1121.73
(This is the price if I booked today while writing this post) 
Total cost $1121.73


Option #2 Purchase a ticket from Dallas to Barcelona, Spain $450.00
                 Purchase a ticket from Barcelona  to Rome $57.60
Total cost $507.60

That is a savings of $614.13 !

I found out about the deal on SecretFlying, purchased the Dallas  tickets through Expedia and the Barcelona tickets directly through Ryanair.  

Ryanair ?  Expedia ?  In case you're thinking "You didn't mention these airlines when you told me the sites to search each day" I would say your are correct.  The sites I recommend searching day are simply search engines.  You will book through the airlines themselves or through a booking site like Expedia.    

Yes, I'm gong to have to take an extra flight to get there, and yes it's going to take a couple of hours longer but I'll do it if it means that I can save over $600 on a flight.  It is fairly cheap to fly around Europe once you get there so find the cheapest flight overseas and then fly to your final destination from there.

The last time I went to Europe, I flew to Dublin to get to Rome.   It was over $300 cheaper and gave me a chance to explore Ireland.  It's a win-win deal.

A word of caution:  Only book through the airlines site or through a trusted website like Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak, Priceline, Tripadvisor, etc.  Stay away from unknown sources.  I am always finding super cheap flights on unknown (to me) airlines booking sites.  I always do a google search on the company (reviews on ????? airline) to see what people have to say about them.  Never, Ever book on an airline site that you don't trust !


Here are the three websites that I use to find cheap airfare.  You will need to check all of them on a regular basis to get the best deals.

UPDATE:  I have added Travel Pirate.  It covers more than airfare but still a great source.


https://www.kayak.com/

http://www.secretflying.com/




Here are some low cost airlines that you may want to check out.  You can do a destinations search to see where they fly.  Some of these companies will not show up on the three sites I mentioned above so they are worth checking out.

Keep in mind that these budget airlines are cheaper for a reason.  Some will charge luggage fees and they usually don't serve any free snacks, meals, or drinks.  Read the fine print before you book.





SPIRIT AIRLINES  - You can read about my experience with Spirit Airlines HERE.





If you would like to find out how to find Cheap lodging, even in Europe, check out my post  " Unbelievably Cheap Lodging in Europe...Yes, It's Possible !"  We stayed in an upscale 3 bedroom, 3 bath apartment in Malta for €48 a night.  Divided by four people, our cost was only €12 each.  


You may also want to check out check out How TO Pack For Europe With Only A Carry-On.  


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