BOOK CHEAP FLIGHTS
HOW TO FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS
Get the Best Deals on Air Travel – A Complete Guide
By Ken Faught
Everything you need to know to find the cheapest flights. Ken Faught and Jennifer Emig love laughing at the deals they find on the internet.
There is a lot of intentional confusion when it comes to online travel, which makes it difficult for people to know how to book cheap flights. That’s because most online travel agencies and commission-based affiliate websites want to have exclusive programs to make it difficult to price shop. One company may have lower base prices but has poor rewards programs and refund policies. While another vacation travel website may have higher prices but offer more convenience.
This blog is targeted to helping you get the best deal on air travel and is a comprehensive look at lots of options. This will cover everything from budget flying tips to things you probably haven’t heard of called error fares. We will explain how to find the cheapest destinations, how to check alternative airports, and even some cool private flying options that may blow you away. As a private pilot, I have learned a lot of tricks that you didn’t know exist, all in the name of helping you find low-cost flights.
Best Travel Websites
How to Get Alerts for Error Fares & Discount Flights
Find the Cheapest Vacation Destinations
Inside Budget Airlines
Best Kept Travel Secrets
Learn What Days Are Cheapest to Fly
How to Book Individual Flight Legs
Learn About Researching Alternative Airports
Cheapest Times of The Year to Travel
Subscribe to Airline Newsletters
How Far in Advance You Should Book Flights
Fly Free – The World of Credit Card Mileage Programs
Why VPN’s Matter & How to Protect Yourself from Them
Around the World Flights – Learn About Open-Jaw Tickets
How to Find Best Prices on Private Flying
15 Best Websites & Apps for Discount Travel
There are a lot of travel websites that will help you find the best deal on flights. Vanessa and I typically look at several sites (probably 4 or 5) before deciding on which site is best to book for a particular vacation, and we always recommend that you treat these sites as the best tools to find discount flights. If they prices vary wildly, we will increase to include more travel websites and we use some of the other tools listed in other parts of this story like price prediction, email fare alerts, destination price maps, and much more.
Book through the airline’s own website – The airlines have a tricky balance between saving customers money and competing directly against online travel agencies and other broker-type websites. It’s rare that we find the best prices directly through the air carrier, but it does happen.
Momondo.com – This is a meta search engine and not an actual online travel agency. That means Momondo.com basically looks at a variety of websites that offer discount travel and tries to help you find the best deal. This site has a lot of cool features including price trends, a price tracker and lots of filtering options. This site does mix and match fares, meaning that the company basically gets you two one-way tickets.
Expedia.com – Is one of the oldest online travel agencies and it also has a rewards program. The program offers rewards for hotels, airfare, rental cars, packages, cruises and activities, but booking through Expedia might limit your mileage earned toward elite status with some airlines. Your upgrade eligibility might also be limited based on which airline carrier you use.
Kayak.com – Is a search engine and not an online travel agency. This site quickly compares prices from other travel websites so you can easily see comparable prices. One of the best features is called Kayak Hacker Fares which bundle two one-way tickets to get you the lowest price. They also have a price tracker to help you watch prices, and this site typically benefits those who have a lot of flexibility with their travel rather than a specific agenda.
Travelocity’s site features a lot of popup with their best deals on travel packages.
Travelocity.com – Is an online travel agency with a unique price match guarantee. If you find a better price, they will refund the difference and give you a $50 coupon to use for a future booking on their site. They also have Travelocity Bargain Fares, however, many of the details of the fares aren’t revealed until after you make a purchase, so pay close attention.
Priceline.com – Is an online travel agency that offers a price match guarantee. A lot of the details of the flight are not revealed until the booking is completed. This includes important items like arrival and departure times.
Orbitz.com – This is a popular online travel agency that offers a unique rewards program. Customers can earn what they call Orbucks when booking flights, hotels and vacation packages, however, these can only be used for hotel stays. Orbitz sometimes charges a booking fee, so pay attention to the summary page before finalizing your purchase to see if the charge appears.
Skyscanner.com – This site is not an online travel agency, but it does help with vacation planning by searching other OTAs and the airline sites directly. This site offers flexible searching, price alerts, and is easy to change the language and calculate different currencies.
Agoda.com – This online travel agency is owned by Priceline and is best known for its multilingual options and simple search functionality. It’s really good for international travel.
Hotwire.com – Is one of the oldest online travel agencies and offers deals when flights and hotels are booked together. As you navigate the site, you will most likely be hit with a bunch of popup that guide you towards their best offers. They offer a low-price guarantee, but they sometimes offer a booking fee so pay close attention.
Google Flights offer a quick and easy way to check price trends so you can get the best deal on flights.
Google Flights – Is a metasearch engine, not an online travel agency, and one of its coolest feature is that it shows you price trends on flights. This trend model allows you to compare prices quickly and easily. They also offer price tracking to show when a particular flight you want to watch has any decrease or increase in price. This site also is one of the most comprehensive with a lot of search options.
CheapOAir – Is an online travel agency that offers its own credit card along with rewards program and other incentives. They have a limited price-match offer and they do charge booking fees, so pay close attention to the out-the-door cost of all vacation travel.
Vayama – This is a lesser known booking site that offers rental cars, flights and hotel reservations.
Flight Network – This is an OTA that offers price protection, so if the price drops, you get a refund. They also have VIP Promo Codes for members.
Kiwi.com – Let’s you book flights, rooms and cars, and change language and currency.
JetRadar.com – This site touts “Search for Cheap Airline Tickets – The Best Way to Buy Cheap Flights.” It has a lot of flight options and allows you to change currency.
Research is everything when it comes to finding the best travel deals.
Save Money with Discount Fare Alerts & Things Called Error Fares
Depending on how much time you have to search deals on flights, you can setup alerts for different flight options to let you know by email when prices drop. There are also a few relatively unknown websites that offer information on what are called error fares, or fares where the airline appears to have made a mistake on pricing flights. We suggest that you sign up for ScottsCheapFlights.com for free, and if you want to use their services, you can pay for a subscription later. We also suggest that you checkout SecretFlying.com, TravelPirates.com, Fly4Free.com, & AirfareWatchdog.com.
How to Find the Cheapest Destinations
I have a bucket list of ultimate vacation destinations and I am constantly searching the web for the best travel deals. I like to check out Bora Bora, New Zealand, St. Thomas, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Maldives, Greece, etc. What I’ve learned is the more flexible and spontaneous you can be, the deeper the discounts you can discover. I will use websites like Skyscanner’sInspire Map that have price maps for a variety of destinations based on where you are traveling from, i.e your departure airport.
Save Money with Budget Airlines
Budget airlines can sometimes save you a lot of money because of their limited service options. Basically, they don’t offer the fancy services as some of the other airlines, or they charge extra for things like checked bags, drinks, snacks, seat choice, and so on. I have saved a moderate amount of money by looking at these options, because not all of these are found on metasearch engines:
Top United States Budget Airlines
Often NOT found on meta search engines, so you will need to go to the airline sites directly to research available flights.
Top Canada Budget Airlines
Top Europe Budget Airlines
Top Asian Budget Airlines
Top African Budget Airlines
Top Latin America Budget Airlines
Learn how Ken Faught’s experience owning this airplane can help you save on travel and discover some exciting options.
One of the Best Kept Travel Secrets
In 2010 I got my private pilot’s license and bought a Cessena 182T four-passenger single-engine airplane with a friend. I flew that plane all over the United States from California to Florida and even New York. What I learned is just how easy it is to find people to fly with, and I learned a lot about the FAA rules and regulations.
Private pilots by definition cannot legally make money flying people around, but they can split the costs of fuel to shuttle others from one location to another. Then I also learned that most airports have what are fixed base offices (FBO’s) that are used by the majority of private pilots that keep their planes at a particular airport. Well, the little-known fact, or secret about this, is that the FBO operators tend to know all the local pilots and routinely will help connect people with aircraft owners who will share costs to travel within a few hundred miles from that airport. Better yet is the fact that there are thousands of smaller airports around the world, so it can make this an option.
So now, I figure you are probably confused, so let me tell you how this could work. If you are landing in a place like Los Angeles in a big commercial airliner and want to fly to a small remote place like Mammoth Mountain, you literally call up an FBO at a local small airport like Hawthorn, California or Van Nuys, California and talk to the FBO about pilots who may want to split costs for a flight to the ski resort town. It requires some pre-planning, and some luck, but it can and does work if the circumstances are all right.
Another fun option is traveling with a flight school. I am only rated for a single engine prop plane, but one time my family wanted to fly from Maui to Oahu to see Pearl Harbor. We looked at flight options on Hawaiian Air and American Airlines, and they didn’t have anything that we wanted, and the last-minute flights were expensive. Also, I didn’t want to take a single engine plane across that much of the Pacific Ocean, so I rented a Piper Seneca Twin (2 engines) from a local flight school and took a flight instructor. Although this wasn’t the cheapest way, it did allow me to hand-pick my arrival and departure times and completely customize our vacation. I also got to log the time as flight instruction in a twin-engine aircraft.
Ken Faught likes to rent planes whenever he’s in Hawaii and took this opportunity on a trip in Kauai to take Vanessa Doleshal and Juliana Dean on a flight around the entire island.
Learn How to Find the Cheapest Days to Fly
The best days of the week to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday because those are the least popular days. This is based off historical data and travel trends that happen all year round. That’s because a lot of people travel purely on the weekends, so when possible, use those days to fly. We also recommend booking your flight 3-10 weeks ahead of time and note that red-eye flights and early morning flights are typically cheaper because they are off-peak times. What is inconvenient will generally save you money. We also recommend travelling on shoulder periods, sometimes referred to off-season. This is generally when kids are in school, and as you can imagine, holidays are something that you should try to avoid because there always seems to be upcharges due to the increased travel volume.
A lot of airlines offer special programs for members that include seat upgrades, early entry onto the aircraft, and healthy travel discounts.
Save Money by Booking Individual Flight Legs
For long distance flights, you should look at booking individual flight legs. This applies to cross-country domestic flights and international flights, and it might mean going with multiple carriers. We have saved several hundred dollars by doing a little extra research in this area.
Research Alternative Airports
I live in southern California, and every time I travel, I check the prices of flying out of Ontario, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego airports, and it’s amazing at how much the prices can vary. I also look at all my destination airport options, for example, there are several major airports you can use when flying into New York City. You can literally save hundreds of dollars just by switching airports that are less than an hour away. That’s because the airlines work off the hub system and it’s simply based on economics and supply and demand. It really doesn’t have anything to do with how far the airplane is traveling with you on board.
The Best Times of the Year to Book Travel
Yes, there are certain months that are better than others. Typically, the cheapest months to book are January and February, and I am not exactly sure why. It might have to do with the fact that tax season is rapidly approaching, but no one really knows for sure.
Subscribe to Vacation Travel / Airline Newsletters
A lot of the airlines offer promo codes and special offers that are online available to their frequent fliers, those on their email list, and those who receive other promo materials by mail. Signing up with your favorite airlines could all you to save up to 50% on flights. Here is a list of some of our favorites:
How Far in Advance Should You Book Your Flights?
The answer is typically 3-10 weeks, for a variety of reasons. We have found that when we book too far out, there are a lot of flight changes. For example, one of my flights to Saint Martin changed two times and I ended spending a day in Panama sightseeing because it was the most-fun option, but far from ideal. If you have flexibility and are looking for smoking deals, then last-minute can really work, but you typically won’t find a lot of options.
Get Free Travel with Credit Card Programs and Frequent Flier Programs
My wife Amy is one of the smartest people that I know, and she works hard to save us money. She buys everything with an American Airlines Mastercard that give us airline points, and it’s taken our family on a lot of vacations. I have also earned a million mile traveler status on American Airlines so this give us a lot of perks such as upgraded seats, free bags, and early entry onto the aircraft.
Internet Tricks with VPNs
It’s a little-known fact that a lot of companies, including some airlines, charge people different rates in different countries. They do this by using technology to determine your location, but there is a way you can hide your location. You can use a private Virtual Private Network (VPN) like privateinternetaccess.com which allows you to use a cheaper location. Typically, airlines charge more for booking domestic flights from outside their country. Not always, but it’s very common. If you can use a VPN to make the online travel agency or metasearch engine think you are in the country of desired travel, then you stand a better chance of saving.
Open-Jaw Tickets or Round the World Tickets – What You Need to Know!
There are around the world flights called open-jaw tickets, which basically means you are arriving and departing from two separate locations. For example, I might fly from Los Angeles International Airport and land in Barcelona, Spain, then vacation there before leaving from a totally different airport in Madrid, Spain.
Find the Best Prices on Private Flying
A lot of people don’t realize that you don’t have to own your own private jet to fly in style. There are a lot of companies that rent private planes by the hour, and the prices are all over the place. You can literally rent a small plane with a single pilot all the way up to a 100-plus-seat commercial airliner. This is not cheap to fly in any stretch of the imagination, but we wanted to give you a comprehensive look on world travel. Here are the best companies that we recommend:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is the best day to look for cheap flights?
A: Our research shows Tuesday.
Q: Do flight prices go down on Tuesday?
A: From what we have learned, it’s the best day to buy tickets.
Q: How can I get a cheap last-minute flight?
A: Google Flights or SkyScanner seem to be the best
Q: Is it cheaper to buy flights at the airport?
A: Typically no, but very rarely yes.
guide to the best Hawaiian
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Hi! We are Ken Faught & Vanessa Doleshal. We love adventure travel, photography & share our journey with YOU! Our goal is help you plan that perfect trip & keep inspiring you to take the next one.