I have earned the reputation amongst my group of friends, to be the go-to girl to find cheap airfare. I love getting into searches to find the best flight options for my friends. I wish that I was born years before I was. I truly believe that I was meant to be a travel agent, but with the internet in place, the industry is so small and dying each year.
- Be flexible with your timing
If you are looking to fly an exact route on exact dates, don’t expect there to be cheap airfare deals. Airlines make their money by knowing that people will pay for flights that work with their schedules and price accordingly. For example, flights to Florida spike in price over spring break because airlines know that parents will spend more money to go on vacation when their kids are out of school.
Sometimes the cheapest flight are the first flights out in the morning. Airlines know that most people hate getting up early to catch a flight, myself included. But if you suck it up, there are benefits – rarely are there delays since the plane is already at the airport and you get to your destination early enough to have a full day to explore.
- Be flexible with your destination
If you know that you want to go on vacation, but are open to where you go, you can often find some incredible bargains. One of my favorite tools for this is Kayak Explore – you enter the general time that you want to travel, maximum price and can filter further by temperature or type of vacation. This shows deals that airlines are offering to all parts of the world.
- Check The Flight Deal
I check The Flight Deal daily and it is one of the most fun parts of my day. I love seeing where I can go for a low price if I am flexible with my dates. Although more often than not I get sad that I can’t go to the exotic locations that are on sale, it gives you a baseline of what pricing could be for highly discounted flights.
This is the site where I found tickets from Chicago to New Orleans for $96 round trip including all taxes and fees. Andy and I wanted to go to New Orleans so it was easy for me to quickly pull the trigger and lock in the low airfare.
- Explore different airlines
Even though I love getting airline miles on my preferred carrier, sometimes it pays to look at non-traditional airlines for the best deal.
There are many discount airlines worldwide, from Spirit to Frontier, Air Asia to Ryanair. Even though the pricing for these airlines is usually rock bottom, be careful of extras as all of these discount airlines love to nickel and dime you. If you travel light, can fit in a small seat, don’t care where you sit and don’t need a drink, they can be a phenomenal value.
- Add a long layover as a “free” stop
This is my favorite airline trick for international travel and gives a big bang for the buck. A layover on an international flight is considered 24 hours or less. This means that you can have a day in another city without paying a penny more!
The easiest way to find these flights is to filter by flight time. The default will be shortest to longest as most people want to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, but you can flip it to see the longest flights first. Using Momondo, my favorite airline booking site, you can also filter by layover airports.
Andy and I have used this trick several times. We spent the day in Mexico City when we came back from Costa Rica and had a day in Beijing on the way home from our honeymoon. We were able to have a great time breaking up the travel and seeing another city, albeit on a pretty condensed timeline.
- Collect airline miles
If you are interested in paying only taxes and fees for a flight, your best bet will be to get into the points game. It takes a lot of work to earn enough miles to fly somewhere, but when you get enough miles, it is so fulfilling to have a flight that is essentially free. Without airline miles, there is no way that Andy and I would have been able to justify going to Asia for as long as we did.
If you’re a newbie to the points game, check out 10 ways to earn miles without flying. This post will get you the basics of getting into the game and earning as many miles as possible. Beware though, once you book your first award flight, you’ll be hooked for life!