My friends and family are always asking me advice on how to find the best flight deals. I’ve been pretty lucky with some of my recent finds: Paris for $400 ( with American), Estonia for $380 (with Delta), and Thailand for $670 (with Qatar Airways).
Have Flexible Dates…
Most of the time, the best deals will fall during the off-peak and shoulder travel season. Rarely will you find deals around US holidays. If you work a 9-5 like me, I plan most of my vacations in the Spring or Fall. Tickets are cheaper, children are in school, and I can avoid the crowds during peak-season. However, sometimes I draw the line. No matter how cheap the ticket is, you won’t find me in Bali during Monsoon season or Winnipeg in December. You may decide some locations are only “worth it” during peak season.
… or a Flexible Destination
If you have set dates, especially during peak travel times, be open to the idea of going somewhere new and unknown. My favorite search tool is Google Flight’s Explore Tool which allows you easily to search based on airport origin, dates, and price range. You can either leave the “where to?” field blank or input a region such as “Southeast Asia” or “Europe”.
Use Multiple Search Tools
Usually, I’ll research with my tried-and-true Google Flights. However, I also recommend using different websites to make sure you’re getting the best price and itinerary possible. It’s important to understand that these search tools are not booking agents. You will need to book either through the airline or a third-party booking site. Use third party booking sites (ie. Expedia, Cheap-O-Air, Orbitz) at your own risk and understand the terms and conditions of your purchase before booking.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Don’t be Loyal to One Airline
For the weekend warrior like me there are virtually no benefits to using one airline for all of my travels. Airlines have chipped away at Frequent Flier status benefits for years and today you can receive most of the same benefits from paid upgrades or credit cards benefits. In my opinion, you are almost always better off booking the cheapest and most convenient flight. You should join every airline’s frequent flier program to accumulate miles, though!
If you check bags often, consider applying for an airline’s credit card. Typically, credit card holders get free checked bags, priority boarding and other benefits for a $100 annual fee.
Be Willing to Drive
Are there any other airports within a reasonable driving distance that you could fly out of? I’ve driven up to 4 hours to take advantage of a fare sale before. If 4 hours will save me $400 on a trip to Europe, I’m sold. Some search engines like Google Flights and Kiwi will let you search from multiple airports or within a given radius to make these deals easier to find.
Subscribe to Airfare Deal Websites (US Only)
You can subscribe to these websites to receive email notifications when there are flight deals. Flights posted on these websites tend to sell out fast so it is important to act fast if you are interested in any of their advertised deals. If you have any other sites that you use, let me know in the comments!
- Escape Houston
- Escape ATX
- Cheap DFW
- Escape Flights – LA
- Escape Flights – NYC
- Escape Flights – Chicago/Milwaukee