Whenever I travel, the expense that scares me the most is the flight price. On some trips, it can steal most of my budget and… oh horror, I sometimes end up finding cheaper prices after I book. However, after flying close (if not over) to a hundred times, I have come to discover a few tips on how to shop for a flight in order to pay as less as possible!
1. Follow pages/websites with special offer notifications
This first advice is for those of you who absolutely want to travel while being flexible with your destinations and time of travel. A lot of Facebook pages and websites often look for special offers from airlines and will notify you (directly or with an announcement on your page) when the prices drop! On some of them, you can select certain destinations or time in order to filter the notifications you receive! If you see a special on a destination you dream of going to, first look at when this special price applies (it will often be on specific months or even a date) and what the prices include. Sometimes, in order to impress, those pages will show the prices before taxes and additional fees). Then, book it as soon as possible because you never know for how long the offer will last! Pages and websites often vary from your location! Yulair is an awesome page/website for flights leaving from NYC, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec!
2. Use the right websites and Apps
If you are flying internationally, you should almost always shop for your flights through websites or apps that will evaluate different airlines prices and show you your different options, from less to most expensive. This will save you a lot more time than looking individually on every airline. I normally use Flight Network, it finds the cheapest flights and has a price drop protection! Skyscanner (which I wrote about in my Best Free Travel Apps post), Flight Hub and Hopper are great apps to use, since they notify you every time the price of the flight you are interested in drops (or go up)! However, those websites and apps rarely show flights from cheap airlines like Wow Air, Ryanair, Virgin Australia, New Leaf. If you know of a cheap airline that might do the itinerary, always look at their prices as well, as they might be lower!
3. Adapt your itinerary
When shopping for a flight, the tendency is to enter your location and your final destination in the Search section (duh!). However, a great way to save money on flights is to play a little bit with those… If there is an other airport not too far from your location, where you can easily get a drive or take a bus to, trying entering that airport as your new location. The flights might be cheaper (even if it’s a bigger distance from your destination… it’s not always logical)! In the same way, try changing your destination to one you can easily fly out from with a cheap airline to your real destination! You can save hundreds of dollars this way, if you only have the patience to try different options.
4. Adapt the dates of your trip
Unless you have absolutely no flexibility on the day you have to leave and come back, you should always enter different departure and return dates on the flights search engines before settling for certain dates. In deed, depending on different factors, certain dates are cheaper or more expensive to fly on. If you have lots of flexibility, avoid big holiday periods, as those are the time the flights are the most expensive. If you have less flexibility, even changing your departure for one day earlier or later might help. Sunday is usually the most expensive day to fly and Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays are the cheapest!
5. Book Flights at the right time
If you are on Pinterest, you might have seen the picture that says: “Tuesdays at 3:00PM, six weeks before your flight, is when tickets are the absolute cheapest.” This happens to be true for many of the flights I’ve booked (I even took breaks at my job, right at 2h55PM to make sure to book it at the right time), it’s not always that easy. But first, you should know flights prices don’t change only from week to week… they change during the day. It actually changes around 3 times a day! Some researches show that Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days to buy tickets. If you really want to save money, you can try shopping in the middle of the nights, as prices sometimes drop a lot during those hours. It has been proven that 8 to 6 weeks before you fly is the best time to buy tickets, but it will mostly differ on your destination. However, you should start shopping a lot earlier than this to have a good idea of what are the regular prices are in order to catch the cheap ones.
6. Book on a different device than the one you shopped with
This might sound weird (and a little bit “Conspiracy theory freak”) but it has been proven to be true. If you keep looking on the same computer/phone for flights, there are chances that the price won’t show that it dropped (even when you pay), while it did drop… which means paying more than what someone else would pay for the exact same thing, at the exact same time, from a different device. I’m not sure how that works, but I know it’s true: Once, I was looking for a flight on my computer and it was 1000$. The WIFI was kind of sketchy so I decided to book it on my phone, using my 3G and, on this device, for the same flight and on the same website, the flight was 900$ (Thank God for bad WIFI!). The best technique would be to use both your computer and your phone for flight shopping, and then, a friend’s computer or phone for booking!
7. Look at what’s included
Ever found a 99$ flight when all other websites were finding the same itinerary for 1500$ (little exaggeration for idea emphasis purposes here)? At first, you believe it’s the special offer of the decade and you want to book it before it disappears. Crazy special offers exist, however, really often, those really low prices come from the fact that… not much is included, sometimes not even taxes. Before booking, look at the amount of the taxes, how much baggage you can bring with you (and if it’s none, how much you have to pay for each, including carry-ons!) and if there are fees for checking in at the airport! Once you add all those fees, the price might be even bigger than what you found elsewhere and you’ll be thankful you looked through this before jumping on the opportunity!
Spending money on flights is totally worth it to discover new places. However, nothing is more frustrating than learning you spent twice what the people sitting next to you on the plane paid. Yes, flight shopping takes time and can include frustrations…. But it’s totally worth it if it means making certain destinations accessible or more money for activities once you get there! Now tell me in the comments, what are the websites/apps you use for flight shopping?