How to Find Cheap Flights – The Full Guide

October 18, 2023

Booking plane tickets used to be the thing I dreaded most of all. As someone who loves to travel, it shouldn’t have been that way. But, due to the hidden costs and exorbitant prices, it was always the biggest headache. There are countless websites for buying tickets, but that just added to the hassle – never knowing which was the right choice. 

So, I decided to finally do something about it, researching how to truly find cheap flights to any given destination. Trust me – it took time, but here we are. 

Now, I’m going to share with you everything I learned about finding cheap flights easily with all the top tips. Let’s get started!

Flight tickets on a map background

1. Search for Flights in Incognito Mode

No, it’s not just your imagination – ticket prices really do go up after searching for them multiple times on the same browser. Because most websites ask you to approve cookies, airfares go up when you keep searching for the same route. This is the site’s way of pressuring you into booking your flight quickly before prices go up even more.

So what can you do to outsmart the system? Turn on incognito mode before browsing for flights, so that you can always see the lowest prices.

Don’t forget that cookies reset every time you open a new incognito window – so you’ll want to start with a clean sheet for each flight search (so your previous searches won’t be “remembered”).

2. Use Flight Search Engines

All flight search engines offer less inflated prices. Keep in mind, however, that some search engines, like Expedia, are considered more expensive than others.

Here are my recommendations for cheap and user-friendly flight search engines:

  • Google Flight Search
  • Skyscanner
  • Skiplagged
  • Airfarewatchdog

It’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as a perfect search engine, and it’s always worth checking out a few options. 

Finding cheap flight tickets on the computer

3. Be Flexible with Travel Times

Airline ticket prices vary greatly depending on the day of the week, time of year, and upcoming holidays. For instance, August is a big month for traveling around Europe, and everyone wants to go somewhere warm in the wintertime or take a trip when the kids are out of school.

In short, if you want to fly when everyone else is flying – your ticket will cost more.

Try to be flexible with your dates. If you want to explore Venice or maybe pop into London, I recommend doing this after the holidays, when fewer people are visiting and airfares are cheaper.

But what if you can only travel in August? Well, you’ll just have to put up with the prices.

The practical solution is really to fly out of season and look for alternative dates. The less flexible you are, the more challenging it will be to find a cheap airline ticket.

By the way, in most cases, it’s cheaper to fly in the middle of the week because most people go on vacations on weekends. Flights in the early morning or late at night are also cheaper because fewer people want to travel (who wants to wake up in the middle of the night?!).

4. Be Flexible with Your Destination

If you can’t be flexible with the times, at least be flexible with your goals. It’s better to have both – but if you really want to save money and find cheap flights, you’ll have to be flexible with one.

Airline search engines have made it really easy to search for destinations all over the world to find the cheapest ticket. No more manually searching, city after city, day after day. Sites like Skyscanner and Google Flights offer convenient tools that allow you to see plane tickets on a world map. This allows you to easily compare multiple destinations without the hassle. You may even find new a destination that you hadn’t thought of before!

If you’re flexible with your destinations – here’s how to find cheap flights:

Step 1:Go to Google Flights and click on the map.

Step 2: Then, enter the city you’re flying from and the date. For the destination, choose “everywhere”. Now you can see a wide variety of flight options around the world. 

With this method, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a good deal for any destination – it may not be the first destination you would choose, but you can save a lot of money along the way.

5. Pay Attention to Special Offers

I recommend joining a mailing list of airlines, giving you access to deals, last-minute flights and deals you can’t refuse.

Sometimes they send cheap flights that are only available for a limited time, so again, flexibility is key.

Besides joining airline newsletters, the best website for finding great deals is Secret Flights – they also have a community on Facebook.

6. Mix & Match Airlines

When you book directly with an airline, you can only fly with that airline and any partner airline. That means your options will be limited when it comes to finding the perfect deal.

Usually, this will suffice. However, if you’re looking to save money and find cheap flights, try booking your tickets on separate airlines. For example, if you’re flying from Israel to Mexico, you might have a stopover in Spain. If you want to save money – book your flight from Israel to Spain as one ticket and then book your flight from Spain to Mexico on a different airline. It’s more work – but sometimes it can be worth it.

This is what most third-party booking sites like do. They connect rides using any flights they can find to ensure you get the cheapest price.

If you’re looking for the lowest possible fare and aren’t satisfied with what you find on the airline’s website, try buying separate segments. You might just stumble upon a great deal!

A picture of an airport, with a large plane in the background

7. Use Points

If you’re an avid traveler, you need to sign up for a Travel Rewards card. Airline rewards programs are the No. 1 way travelers like me earn free flights, travel perks, and free hotel stays. They also offer flight upgrades, bonuses, ride-sharing credits for Uber, and more.

No matter how often you fly, I recommend being enrolled in these programs. 

8. Check Ticket Prices for Solo Travelers

If you’re traveling with friends or family, don’t look to buy multiple tickets in one purchase. Airlines always display the highest ticket price in a ticket group, which means you’ll end up paying more money.

Airlines have a lot of parameters that determine the price of tickets (these are based on a variety of factors). For example, if you’re a family of four and you’re looking for four seats, the airline will find four seats together and display your fare based on the highest ticket price. So if seat A is $200, seats B and C are $300, and seat D is $400, it will price those tickets about $400 each instead of adding up the prices of individual tickets. If the price difference is large, this translates into a considerable additional expense.

For this reason, always look for tickets as solo passengers. Then, during the checkout process, you can select your seats so that everyone sits together. And even if you end up not being next to each other, it will still save you a lot of money.

9. Book in Advance

Airfares continue to rise as you get closer to your flight date, but there is a point when airlines start lowering or raising fares depending on demand. Don’t wait until the last second, but also don’t book too much in advance. The best time to book your flight is about 2-3 months before your trip. Airlines raise prices closer to the date of the flight, so don’t book at the last minute!

10. Beware of Hidden Fees on Low-Cost Airlines

When you’re looking for cheap flights, especially low-cost flights, you have to read carefully about what you’re paying for and what isn’t included. 

Here’s a story from when I caught a flight to Mexico with Volaris, which is known as a low-cost airline. I was very excited at first about the prices, and I swear I checked about 10 times to ensure exactly what I was paying for. I read the fine print but it still didn’t help. 

When I arrived at the airport, they told me that I had to pay $50 to check in with them because I didn’t do it through the website (even though that option wasn’t working for me on their website!). They then said I had to pay another $45 in tourist taxes. While researching these mysterious tourist taxes, I discovered that Volaris is the only one doing this, which was not indicated at the time of booking tickets. So here’s a perfect example of hidden fees – in total, I had to pay an extra $100!

From air taxes to baggage fees or seat selection, there’s a whole host of things that can increase the price.

So make sure you always check what’s included in your purchase and consult with people who have flown with low-cost airlines to make sure you don’t have any surprises.

Of course, low-cost flights can still be good value, especially if you are flying with minimal luggage. But, don’t be surprised if it ends up working out to the same prices in the end. Consider all potential costs.

A view of an airplane wing

11. Look for Connecting Flights

If you book a flight well in advance, it should be very cheap to do it with connections. Direct flights in many cases are more expensive. However, it is important to be aware of the risks involved with connections. If one of the previous flights is delayed, a connecting flight may be missed. But, travel insurance should cover you in case something goes wrong.

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide has helped you in finding a cheap flight for your next trip! 

Have any more ideas for saving money while traveling? Leave a comment!

Find Your Device, Find eSimple

If it's here, you're good to go!