How To Find Cheap Flights 2021
Nobody wants to spend more than they need to for airline tickets. Unfortunately, prices for airfare can fluctuate wildly depending on when you book and other factors. If you’re looking to save on your next flight, there are some effective ways to find the lowest fare.
Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates
Do you have any flexibility with your dates of travel? If so, then you could save significantly. Most airlines allow you to search for flights based on specific arrival and departure dates or with flexible dates in mind. If you select flexible dates, you’ll be able to view a calendar that shows specific rates for each possible date of travel. You might be surprised at how much money you can save by flying out on a Thursday instead of a Friday, for example.
Of course, when choosing flexible travel dates to save money, it’s important to consider the potential costs of flying out a date earlier or later. Will it be worth it to take an extra day off of work or stay in a hotel for an extra day? You’ll also want to consider the value of your time when determining whether or not it’s worth it to switch up your travel dates in the name of savings.
Check Out Budget-Friendly Airlines
If you’ve ever compared pricing across different airlines, then you know some airlines simply charge more for airfare than others. If you’re looking to score the lowest possible rate on your flight, you’ll want to check out some of the more budget-friendly airlines, such as Frontier and Southwest. These airlines are known for having lower airfare—but it’s important to understand that you may be making some practical sacrifices by booking through one of these airlines.
For example, Southwest Airlines is able to offer lower fares because they don’t offer assigned/reserved seating. Frontier, on the other hand, has cheap flights but also offers substantially less legroom for passengers. Ultimately, it’s all about what you’re comfortable sacrificing in order to save on your airfare.
Search Online In Incognito Mode
Have you ever searched for rates on a flight or hotel, only to close out of your browser window and return later on to a higher rate for the exact same flight or room? This is a common tactic used by airlines and hotel chains; using cookies, they’re able to track your search criteria when you visit their sites. When you leave and come back to search for the same hotel or flight, they increase the rates ever so slightly. The hope is that you’ll feel pressured to confirm your booking to avoid further rate hikes.
The best way to avoid this? Conduct all your online searches for airfare and hotels (and suitcases, while you’re at it) in incognito mode. This mode prevents sites from tracking your activity, so you’ll always be shown the same low price regardless of how many times you leave the site and come back.
Know When To Start Looking
Knowing when to start searching for airfare can also help you secure the cheapest flight possible. There is no universal “best time” to book a flight; it really depends on where you’re traveling. For example, if you’re looking to fly domestically, your best bet is typically going to be booking anywhere from 1-3 months in advance. If you’re flying internationally, on the other hand, you’ll want to be looking anywhere from 2-8 months out for the best deals.
Time of year can also come in to play when it comes to airline pricing. For example, more people tend to travel during the summer months, so you may need to research and book a little further out for a summer trip than you would with a flight in the middle of winter. For most flights, rates will peak right around 1-2 months from the departure date, as this is when the most people will be booking.
If you’re booking a flight around the holiday season, you’ll also want to give yourself a little more time. And unfortunately, you’re probably going to pay a premium for any flight around the holidays, so don’t want until the last minute in the hopes that you’ll snag a great deal. It’s probably not going to happen.
Take Advantage of Price Guarantees
Many travelers don’t realize that some airlines offer price guarantees. These guarantees actually allow you to cancel your flight reservation and re-book for a discounted price if a lower rate becomes available. In most cases, these guarantees are valid until up to 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to take off.
Specific policies on re-booking at a lower rate can vary from one airline to the next. However, if your flight offers a price guarantee and you find a lower rate more than 24 hours before your flight’s departure, your best course of action is to call the airline directly and ask them to re-book on your behalf. You might be surprised at how much you can save by simply keeping your eye on rates as they fluctuate.
Be careful, though. Some airlines will only allow you to re-book once, whereas others may allow unlimited re-bookings to maximize your savings if rates continue to fall before your flight.
Sign Up For Price Alerts On Specific Flights
If you don’t have the time to constantly be checking rates manually (and who does?) you can always sign up for price alerts through a free service such as Google Flights. This type of service will allow you to enter specific flight information and receive an alert directly to your email address any time the rate for that flight drops. This can be a great way to be alerted in real-time when prices fall so you can take advantage and book immediately.
Google Flights is also useful for searching for cheap airfare to various destinations around the world. Simply select a destination and then view the cheapest rates based on arrival and departure date.
Compare Before You Book Round-Trip
You would probably assume that booking your departure and return flights through the same airline would be the cheapest option, right? You might actually be surprised to learn that this is not always the case. Before you book a round-trip flight through one airline, consider shopping around to see if you could save money by booking your departure and return flights through separate airlines. This is something many travelers never consider, but you can save a surprising amount of money this way.
The same concept applies for flights with layovers or connections. By “mixing and matching” your airlines for these flights, you may be able to save big time (same as you would if you bought a luggage set instead of each suitcase individually). Just be sure that if you book separate airlines for a connecting flight that you give yourself plenty of extra time to get to the necessary gate or terminal. Depending on the airport you’ll be flying out of, you may need to travel to a completely separate terminal to get on your connecting flight, and this can take time.
The Bottom Line
These are some of the hands-down best ways to save on your next flight, regardless of whether you’re flying domestically or internationally. All of these strategies are relatively simple and shouldn’t take up a lot of your time, but can equate to huge savings. That’s money you can use to have a little more fun on your trip or to keep in your bank account.
Why pay more than you need to for your next flight? With these tips and tricks, you can maximize your savings without making any huge sacrifices. And after you see how much you can save, you’ll never want to return to your “old” way of researching and booking flights again!