Every frequent traveler has their own tricks for booking the best and cheapest flight possible.
For most trips, airfare is the most expensive part of the trip. Whether you’re a budget solo traveler or a family looking to vacation abroad, finding a cheap flight deal can be what makes or breaks your trip.
And yet every day, airlines have thousands of amazing deals — from mistakenly published fares to special promotions to slashing prices to compete with another airline. Cheap fares are out and they can make your dream trip a reality — if you know where to look.
When it comes to booking flights I usually have a few places I generally look and compare with. My go-to site nowadays when looking for flights for my next trip is Cloud9. With easy navigation and lots of filter options, you can narrow your search to exactly what you want and the fares are probably the cheapest of all flight search engines.
Check out the prices of your next flights with Cloud9.
Here are top 9 tips to help you hack how to find the cheapest flights possible:
1. Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates and Times
Airline ticket prices vary greatly depending on the day of the week, time of year, and upcoming holidays, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July.
The solution is to fly off-season. Search alternative dates so that you can capitalize on the best day. The more rigid your plans, the less likely it will be that you find a deal.
Moreover, it’s almost always cheaper to fly during the middle of the week than on a weekend because most people travel on the weekends and airlines hike their prices then. Prices are also cheaper if you fly after a major holiday as are early-morning or late-night flights are cheaper because fewer people want to travel then (who wants to wake up early?!).
In short, the difference of one day can mean hundreds of dollars in savings.
2. Be Flexible with Your Destinations
The truth about airfare is that there’s always a deal to some destination — it might just not be your first choice. However, if you’re flexible about where you want to go, you’ll always get a deal and save a ton of money in the process
Airline search engines have made it really easy to search the entire world to find the cheapest ticket by comparing multiple destinations without having to brainstorm every possible option. You no longer have to search manually, city by city, day by day. You’ll likely even find some interesting destinations you hadn’t even thought of either!
3. Be happy to fly with the budget airlines
Flying the budget airlines is a good alternative to flying “the majors” whenever possible.
Nowadays airlines are under some pretty strict guidelines in regard to maintenance and other things which is great. This means that budget airlines can be used with a lot more confidence. Sure, they might not be as comfortable and you may need to pay for premium upgrades like checked bags and meals, but they bring the world to your doorstep without breaking the bank.
4. Don’t Always Fly Direct
Being flexible with the route you take is another way to get a cheap flight.
For example, sometimes it’s cheaper to fly to London and take a budget airline to Amsterdam than to fly direct to Amsterdam from your departure city.
This method is more work since you have to figure out lots of different routes and check different airlines. But it can lower the price of your flight, which is worth the extra effort if you end up saving a few hundred bucks.
5. Keep an Eye for Special Deals
Before you start looking for specific flights, make sure you’ve signed up for some newsletters. Joining the mailing list for airlines and last-minute deal websites will give you access to the absolute best deals out there. Sure, 99% of the might not fit your itinerary but keeping your eye on the deals will ensure you don’t miss an amazing deal.
More often than not, cheap flights are only available for a limited window (usually 24 hours). If you aren’t always scouring the web for sales, you’ll likely miss out the best deals.
6. Use Loyalty points Wallet to trade or buy points and miles
As soon as you know you want to travel somewhere you should sign up for a travel rewards card. Airline rewards programs are the #1 way avid travelers earn free flights, travel perks, and free hotel stays. They offer flight upgrades, huge welcome bonuses, credit toward rideshares like Uber or Lyft, access to free events, access to airport lounges, and much more.
No matter how often you fly, you should be signed up for a reward program. You don’t need to do any extra spending either. People earn over a million miles a year — without flying or spending extra money. That translates into dozens of free flights (often in business class).
7. Search for one-person flights even if you’re booking for multiple people
If you’re traveling with friends or family, don’t search for or buy multiple tickets in a single purchase. Airlines always show the highest ticket price in a group of tickets which means you’ll end up paying more money.
For example, if you are a family of four and you’re searching for four seats, the airline will find four seats together and show 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 as $400 each instead of adding up the individual ticket prices. If the price difference is large, that translates into a sizable extra expense.
For that reason, always search for tickets as a single person. Afterward, in the checkout process, you can pick your seats so you and your family are sitting together. And even if you end up not beside one another, that’s a fair trade for saving a few hundred dollars.
8. Look for tickets in other currencies
If your country’s currency is currently strong compared to others around the world, search airfare in a country where the currency is weaker.
For example, when the US dollar was strong and the New Zealand currency weak, I found a one-way flight from Australia to NYC for $1,000 USD. However, when I searched on the New Zealand version of the airline, I found the same ticket for $600 USD.
It was the same airline, same flight, and same booking class — it was just booked in a different currency. This tip does not always work, but it works often enough that it’s something worth trying if your currency is currently doing well.
9. Book an early flight when you can
Airline fares will keep rising the closer you get to departure, but there is a sweet spot when the airlines begin to either lower or increase fares based on demand. Don’t wait until the last second but don’t book far, far in advance either. The best time to book your flight is around 6–8 weeks before your departure, or around three months before if you are going to your destination during their peak season.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, though, so use it as a guide. At the end of the day, saving a few bucks isn’t worth the hours and hours spent hunting for a deal. When you find a decent price, just book it. It may not be the rock-bottom fair you hoped, but it’s better than paying more when the price inevitably rises!