Cheap flights and how to find them

Everybody wants to find cheap flights or even just a good value flight to suit their itinerary, so what is the key to finding cheap flights?

Like anything, the key to getting value for money is knowing what something is worth and the way to learn that is to research.

But, with a myriad of options available, where do you start?

Well, of course you should start your search for cheap flights at the beginning …

Step 1 – Where and when to travel

Work out your travel destination/s and your approximate travel dates. To get an idea of likely costs and travel times go to travel sites like:

  • Rio2Rome – discover how to get anywhere
  • Travel Math – trip calculator
  • Kayak – compare hundreds of travel sites at once

Remember that having flexible travel dates and times (if possible) is key. Flying midweek can often also be cheaper. With your basic (or exact) dates established, its time to get researching.

Step 2 – Research

The best place to start your research is on a comparison website but you don’t just want any comparison website, you want a website that gathers together other comparison websites.  Let me give you an example of a website I love and use… Cheapflights.

Remember to search “all airports” unless you are limited to which airport you need to fly into.

If you keep your options broad and there are multiple airports available, an alternate airport may be a cheaper alternative.

Cheapflights will search your flight dates and provide a list of other comparison websites, pre-populated with your chosen flight dates. This means you only have to enter your flight details once, to get the benefit of multiple results.

From here you simply work through the list of comparison websites it provides you (with each comparison website opening up in a new window). This allows you to narrow down the comparison websites to those you are happy with in respect of either price or how user friendly they are. Lets say we minimise the confusion factor and narrow it down to 3 sites.

Step 3 – Tweak your searches

If you have flexible dates, from here you can tweak your dates, which can be done in two ways:

  1. Go back to your initial search page on your main website (ie Cheapflights) and change your dates. Choose your 3 comparison websites and see how the different dates have changed the results; or
  2. From within the comparison websites, you are able to move through the pages via “next day” or “previous day” options. Others will give you a matrix of all flights so you can see at a glance when the cheapest of the cheap flights is and you can alter your dates to take advantage of the cheapest flight.

It is not an exact science as they are all set out differently and display your search results differently.

Step 4 – look at the detail

As they say, the devil is in the detail (of your search results).
The “detail” you will need to look at, apart from the price, includes flight times, flight duration and number & duration of stops.

The better you understand the flights available on your chosen route, the better the deal you will be able to find and, more importantly, will be happy with.  Remember, you need to compare “apples” with “apples”.  Compare direct flights with other direct flights.  It is not a true comparison to compare a direct flight with a flight with 2 stops.

Step 5 – book it

Once you have found a flight or flights you are happy with, book it… but… don’t automatically book the flight through your price comparison website as some incur a booking fee.  Instead, investigate booking the flight direct through the airline’s official website, where there are usually no booking fees.

Lastly, utilise those “price beat” offers.  However, you need to know that this can often mean your flight price needs to be compared with a home country based website.  For example, if you want to take up a “we will beat any airfare quote or you fly free” offer, your comparison flight price will need to be sourced “same day” from a business or online company which is of the same country (ie. both need to be Australian companies/businesses).

Worst case scenario, they might price compete.  Best case scenario, they will price beat which translates to more holiday spending money in your pocket, right?
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