Time and again I have got this question. ‘How does one book cheap flights?’
All the flight companies are on a tight competition for business and lowering prices is not really in the forecast. I mean why should they, when the demand for traveling is higher than ever?
With todays high connectivity and speeding globalization, people are bound to travel regardless- whether you want to travel across the country to pursue the best of education, to meet your family in their root country, or to settle in china because you’ve got a better job than here, why stay put?
Here are some of the hacks I have found to be exceptionally helpful when it comes to booking flights:
1.Vanish from the net: Clear your cookies
You would think that refreshing your browser over and over in hopes for flight tickets to get cheaper would help, but no. On the contrary, flight companies use your history against you by tracking your cookies. Cookies are the surfing data that a website stores in order to remember your information (like your shopping cart before checkout).
There are two ways you could opt to go about this situation: You could either clear your cookies or use Google Incognito mode.
Click here to learn how to clear your cookies.
2. Browse in private: Activate Google Incognito mode
While clearing cookies is like clearing all stored data on your browser, activating the Google Incognito mode is using the browser anonymously in the sense that you browse without being tracked a single bit. In this case, you wouldn’t have to clear your cookies every single time before refreshing your browser.
How to activate the Google Incognito mode:
- To surf in this mode, you will first need to install Google Chrome.
- Once you have installed and opened Chrome, in the top right Menu corner, click on the three vertical dots >New incognito window.
- A new window opens with a dark grey theme (image below) and an Incognito icon
Generally, it is suggested that clearing cookies is much safer than Incognito, it is still a great tool for quick bookings and surfing privately.
3. Smart searching: Use search engines
Once you have learned how to clear your cookies and go Incognito, the next step would be to use the best flight resources offered by the World Wide Web. These search engines usually take cuts from airlines and offer bundles and deals with hotels and transportation. You can obviously use these resources without opting for hotels/transportation.
Here are few of the best ones according to my research:
- Skyscanner: While Expedia and Travelocity have been my really good friends in the past, Skyscanner has proven to be much better than the two in terms of deals. You could also download the app if need be.
- My friend Andy Vanhook on Instagram recommended Skiplagged as his favorite booking search engine.
4. Track your prices: Turn on your Google Alerts
Yes, like always, Google has your back with Google Flights. While it could be a tad bit costlier booking through Google Flights, the great feature here is to be able to track your flight prices, such that if it ever goes up or down on the hosting flight website, you immediately get an email alert (as shown in the picture below).
How to track flights on Google Flights:
- Go to Google Flights and type your information for departure and destination.
- Once you have customized your information for price, layover, number of stops etc, click on the option to Track Prices. It will immediately activate your email alerts incase of the prices going down.
For those who plan their travels well in advance, this is the way to go!
5. Be ready to sacrifice comfort: Use Budget Airlines
You are scrolling down this post for a reason- so you can fly cheaper. Hence you must also be willing to give up the luxury of flying lavishly. While most countries cater to the people with hefty pockets, they also cater to the middle class, since traveling has become so important to the world. In other words, while there is Emirates Airlines, there is also Fly Dubai.
Choose the budget airline. Yeah, you may not get a lot of leg room or any food, but at least you get a medium to get to another country without having to break your bank.
Here is a list of all the low cost airlines.
Here are a list of hacks for traveling with budget airlines:
- You are at a benefit if you travel light. Be prepared to pay for any extra luggage. Stay well within the size/weight restrictions or you will be charged heavily
- Pack food from home, because the flight is going to charge you for any food or water.
- Some airlines require you to print your tickets and RyanAir is one of them. Read their instructions carefully so you don’t miss out on the petty charges you never knew existed.
- Have a backup plan. Budget airlines are likely to get cancelled or delayed and that might be a huge issue for some. So be flexible.
The one airlines I could think of in particular is WOW air, which offers really cheap prices to hot countries like Iceland, Netherlands and alike.
6. Using travel wisely: Redeem your Miles
Air Miles are frequent flyer point, or loyalty points in other words, that add up by using certain airlines or credit cards. How it works is that based on how much or far you have traveled, your points will accumulate. After a certain point, you will have earned eligibility to redeem them. If you are a frequent traveler like me, then you have surely bundled up some Air Mile points.
Here is a decent guide by LifeHacker on ‘How to use Airline Miles’.
7. Why wait until last minute: Book ASAP
I do everything last minute, so I struggle with this one. If you know where you want to go and when, book as soon as you can. Ideally, it is good to know exactly two months before where you want to go to book the tickets.
The more you wait, the higher the prices escalate, especially when it comes to budget airlines. The way they work is that they have a baseline price, and when tickets begin to sell, their fares go up. Avail it while it lasts.
For the last minute planners, if you are this flexible with your time to choose to book last minute, then wait until the last minute and then head to your closest airport to avail your tickets for the flight you want to travel in. If it isn’t full, they will sell it to you for a very cheap (or desperate) rate and you will have hit the jackpot.
8. Booking time matters: The Tuesday trick
First of all, NEVER book on Saturday or Sunday.
Know when to book; having gained the prime SEO on google, FareCompare tells us that Tuesday at about 3 pm EST is the best time to book a cheap flight. Here’s why:
But there is another and more manual way to know when the flight you want is going to be cheap. You can actually research the days your flights are going to be cheapest on.
- Go to Skyscanner.net/ and enter your desired departure and arrival date.
- select the option of ‘one-way’ and click on ‘Depart’.
- Instead of choosing a date on the drop-down menu, choose ‘Whole Month‘ and then ‘Cheapest Month’. Click on ‘Search Flights’
- Look at the comparison of dates (as shown below) and choose your desired date.
9. Sit back and relax: Book through Groupon Getaways
G Adventures, Nat Geo Journeys, Intrepid Travel etc are all amazing websites to find like-minded people from across the world who you have never met and travel together. But all those websites charge more than most could afford.
The alternative? A website designed specifically to make things cheaper: Groupon
A feature not many use in this website is the ‘Getaways‘ category that lies in the homepage. My recent travel to Georgia was through the Groupon Getaways and it cost me only 500$ including airfare, 4 star hotel stay, breakfast and a tour guide. I also met likeminded travelers during the journey.
10. Make connections: Befriend airlines staff
You have no idea how much it helps to be a friend or relative of a person who works for an airlines. Many airlines employees receive endless travel discounts whilst traveling for a job full-time. What happens to those discounts? you guessed it- they are used by their family and/or friends.
I have been studying in USA for the past four years while my family is in UAE. It is pretty expensive to travel to and from USA to UAE every four months when I get a vacation. But for the most part I getaway with discounted tickets (of just $300) because I have a relative who works at Emirates Airlines.
I have also been eyeing the Emirates Cabin Crew description for a job post graduation, and it thrills me to see that while I will be traveling full-time and get paid to do it, I will also get a free destination ticket each year whether or not I choose to avail it (that is, if I get the job).
So what I am saying is, get to know more people in the bizz!
With that being said, I hope you enjoyed the read and learnt something you didn’t know before about traveling cheap!
If you have more tips, please comment!!
Until next Saturday,
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