As travelers, we spend a lot of the time in the air. But before you can get to the airplane food, getting creative with how to keep your feet from falling asleep, and hours spent on plastic airport seats, you’ve got to buy your ticket.
And it’s no secret that plane tickets are one of the most expensive parts of traveling. To help cut down on this big chunk of money, here is some of our very best advice about how to find the top-notch deals on plane tickets.
Clear your cookies and browsing history
Full disclosure: I’m not a computer geek nor am I very internet-savvy. But I do know that through some kind of voodoo, airfare sites know when you are a return visitor and are looking for plane tickets. The prices tend to go up the more times you visit a site and search for tickets.
Or so I’ve been told. Again, I’m not a computer genius but if so many people give this tip, it must be true, right? The internet doesn’t lie.
By clearing your cookies and browsing history, you are erasing yourself from the memory of that website and the prices will display as if you are seeing them for the first time. A shortcut to this step is simply browsing for tickets in an incognito or secret window.
Price tracker services
You know that feeling when you book a ticket for $310 and then the next day you just happen to check again and your same ticket dropped to $250? We’ve all been there. Avoid that feeling by using price tracker services such as AirfareWatchdog.com. I also have the app Hopper (available on Android and iPhone) since AirfareWatchdog.com doesn’t have an app but they are identical services.
When you use a price tracker, you simply fill out the form as usual with your departing airport, destination, and dates and Hopper/AirfareWatchdog.com will alert you when prices are cheapest. They also give predictions about whether the prices are expected to drop in case you’re a nervous Nelly like me and constantly check.
Instead of spending your hours getting online to check for flight prices, let a price tracker service do the work for you and have some peace of mind!
When I say be flexible, I mean in multiple aspects. First of all, destination. If you’re just looking for a flight for a random getaway or vacation with no set plans, consider being flexible about your destination! Flights to New York City might run you $500 while a flight to Seattle is only $300. If you don’t have any predetermined plans, you can head west instead of east and save yourself some cash.
You can also snag some great deals if you’re flexible on dates. If you’re willing to depart a few days earlier or later, chances are you can grab a ticket for a little less.
One of my favorite sites for both date and destination flexibility is SkyScanner. On Skyscanner, you can enter your departing airport and then choose “Everywhere” as a destination. I find this feature so appealing! If you’re in the very first stages of planning a vacation, this is super helpful because you figure out which destination is going to be the most affordable to visit. Skyscanner also allows flexibility on dates. When you go to choose your date, simply choose “entire month of ____” and Skyscanner will show you which day is cheapest to fly in your chosen month. If you’re completely flexible, you can also choose “cheapest month” and Skyscanner will tell you which month out of the year is the cheapest to fly. These are both great options for figuring out how you can travel on a budget which, um, yes.
Every once in a while, errors happen on the end of the airline. I’m not entirely sure why this happens but Fly On Us theorizes that it’s because behind every computer and every algorithm is a human entering data and humans make mistakes. Sometimes error fares pop up when someone forgets to add fuel charges and taxes and sometimes it’s just a plain old typo. Either way, you can benefit from it!
These types of flights are hard to catch since you have to be on the website at just the right moment. But if you happen to see an insanely cheap flight sometime, be sure to grab it as it might be an error fare and will disappear as soon as someone at the airline is alerted.
Be aware if/when you find these types of deals that your ticket may be canceled. Of course, if you’ve already paid, you’ll get your money back. In my opinion, the rewards far outweigh the risks! Assuming your ticket isn’t canceled, you’ve probably snagged a hell of a deal.
Similar to error fares, flash deals are also a great way to catch cheap flights in a fleeting moment. Sometimes airlines decide to put certain destinations on sale and this is your time to reap the benefits! The Wandering Sunflower and I both benefitted from a recent flash sale on Delta. We snapped up our tickets to the Emerald Isle for around $200 one-way which is absolutely absurd. During Delta’s sale, many destinations went on sale, especially throughout Europe and it was quite a large sale. Not every sale will be so grandiose but you can still find great deals.
None of us have the time to sit around on search engines just waiting for our flights to go on sale. I recommend following The Flight Deal on Facebook. They post daily updates with heavily discounted airfares that come about through error fares or flash deals. You’ll need to be flexible on your destination and date if you want to take full advantage. But if you’re flying out of a major airport, there’s a small chance your dream airfare will pop up and you’ll be able to pounce.
When you’re looking for a good deal on flights, flexibility and a little luck will be on your side! These are our tried-and-true techniques but there are other ways out there. If you’ve ever caught a super-cheap flight through a loophole or special trick, let us know in the comments! Share the cheap flight wealth!
-The Wayfaring Photographer