Grabbing a cheap flight is the Holy Grail for all would-be travellers. Wherever you are flying to, saving money on your journey means more money to spend when you get there.
If you are prepared to put enough time into your search, and able to be flexible on where and even when you travel, there are deals on flights to be had. You can easily pick up cheap hotels, and even cheap package holidays, but because of the way airlines price their tickets, finding reduced airline tickets can be a full time job. Start early, prepare to shop around and with a fair wind and a bit of luck, you may well be able to secure a flight to your dream destination at a price that won’t give you nightmares.
Have A Price In Mind
Reduced flight fares are not reverse auctions. If you are waiting for the lowest price ever seen to appear, you may well be disappointed. Flight prices are live and will fluctuate depending on supply and demand.
Set a price bracket that YOU are comfortable with, can afford and are willing to pay. If a flight comes up within your range, go ahead and purchase it. Waiting for it to fall again could be a false economy and you could end up paying more than you bargained for.
Never Underestimate The Budget Carriers
Budget carriers used to only be good for short haul flights or internal ones. But these days they have upped their game to compete with the major airlines. Europe and the UK has a particularly wide choice of carriers that can take you all over the world.
If you are not sure which ones fly to where you want to go, then you can look up flight routes on their own websites, or simply visit the website of your preferred airport and they will have a list of budget airlines that service them. In Europe, Ryanair, Easyjet, Jet2, Flybe, Blueair, German Wings, Norwegian, Wizz Air and Veuling all offer low cost flights to a variety of destinations across the globe.
When it comes to long haul, Norwegian offers some of the best value flights in the world including London Gatwick to New York’s JFK for as little as £210 pp. Be careful though, as we know with budget airlines, the price you see isn’t necessarily the price you pay. We will come on to that later.
Get Yourself Organised As Possible
Whilst it is true that you can sometimes pick up a bargain on last minute ticket sites, generally they ramp up the price the nearer you get to your ideal departure date.
Airlines can release tickets as early as 11 months in advance, so if you are the organised type, you could save pounds by starting your search early. You may even find that you have to search on a regular basis over a period of many months before you find that perfectly priced flight.
According to some flight savvy savers, the optimum time to find discounted tickets is around 7-8 weeks before you travel. Flight search website Skyscanner offers a handy tool that allows you to see exactly when flights to your preferred destination fall the most.
Do Your Own Research On Dates
Another thing to remember on the subject of when you fly, is that airlines are not daft. They know exactly when something major is going on, from music festivals to sporting events and everything in between. This means that trying to sneak over to the other side of the world to catch a big football match on a bargain budget, probably won’t happen.
If you find prices are looking unusually high for your preferred destination, have a quick look at what is happening there around the time you wish to travel and you will soon see what is drawing them in.
Prepare To Work
When seeking out cheap flights on the internet, one thing is for sure, there is no simple way to find them. Let’s face it, if there was, we would all be doing it. It can take hours, days, or even weeks scanning the web for that incredible deal, but once you find what works for you, you’ll know how to approach your next flight search. It just takes time and dedication.
Be Open To Visiting Anywhere In The World
If you are looking forward to a fortnight on the beach, there are thousands of beaches to choose from, some significantly cheaper to fly to than others. The same applies to city breaks, skiing holidays, backpacking adventures and many other types of holiday.
The awesome power of the internet has made it really easy to find great value flights to anywhere in the world. Travel planning website Kayak for example, offers a very usable explore tool that allows you to see where the cheap flights are at, without having to input a destination, region or even country.
You could also try the slightly superior Google Flights online flight finder which will give you an instant idea of the cheapest destinations around the world. If you can remain flexible about your destination, chances are you will be able to find a bargain that suits. It is super easy to use too, simply visit Google Flights, click the map, enter your dates of travel and boom! Click on any destination that takes your fancy to get prices.
It Can Be More Expensive to Fly Direct
If you are going a fair distance, it might actually be cheaper to take the scenic route, and take more than one flight. A long haul flight to Cape Town for example is almost half the price if you change over in Johannesburg on route. This is not always the case though and destinations likes Dubai, Los Angeles, New York and Miami are often cheaper to fly to direct.
Most flight comparison sites or search engines will give you the option to fly direct or include a change of flights on your journey, so click both to see which ones come up cheaper.
Fly Early Or Late
If you can find a flight that leaves early in the morning, or very late at night, these too are usually cheaper, because, obviously not everyone wants the inconvenience of getting up early or waiting all day to fly.
A simple flight from London Gatwick to Barcelona, for example, starts from as little as £55 if you are prepared to be there in time for the 6.00am flight, whereas a more reasonably timed 09.45 am flight jumps up to as much as £147 for the same journey. While this is also not always the case, you could save a few pounds if you are an early riser or a bit of a night owl.
Try Being Flexible With Your Dates
If you could somehow swing it that you can travel anywhere at literally any time, you would probably have no trouble being able to source really cheap airfares. In reality, many of us have to work around real life commitments, but if you can be flexible with your dates, you could score savings here too.
Airlines price their tickets based on days of the week, months of the year and traditionally busy periods like Christmas and school holidays. The weather also hikes up prices, as certain countries are nicer to visit at different times of the year. Because of this, there is no one cheap time of the year to fly, but prices can be reduced significantly after school holidays, and outside of traditionally busy times.