Of course, the ultimate cheap airline tickets are Free tickets through credit card points and/or credit card sign up bonuses. For more information visit our beginner section on travel hacking/best travel credit cards to maximize points! But if you must outright purchase your ticket, here are my favorite tips & tricks to scoring great deals!
Have you ever wondered why the price of an airline ticket continuously changes throughout the day? Based on the cookies in your browser, prices increase when an airline route is repeatedly searched.
Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest price. In Chrome or Safari, incognito can be enabled by holding these three keys down at the same time: Command (or control if on a pc), Shift, “N”. For Explorer or Firefox, use: Command, Shift, “P”…either will work to go into a private search.
By doing this, your cookies reset each time you open an incognito window, so your previous flight searches won’t be remembered allowing you to score the best flight price.
Domestic Travel’s ideal/rule of thumb’s timeline is 70 days prior to departure. This can change through the year. To book for Summer dates: 47 days, Fall dates: 69 days, Winter dates: 62 days and Spring dates: 90 days.
Check travel websites first thing in the morning: 9a or the evening, after 6p.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly. If you have to go to Miami on a specific date, you are stuck with that price. If you can be flexible when you can fly out, you’ll find a better deal. The difference one day can make may equal hundreds of dollars.
If you are already a cheap flights pro, then the following websites might already be on your radar. If you are like me, I’m up for going anywhere as long as I can score a cheap flight. I find these sites to be the best for deals:
Secret Flying: sometimes they post “error” fares.
Scott’s Cheap Flights (#1 for me)
I love Momondo so much that I think it needs it’s own blog post (coming soon). It is by far my favorite flight aggregator. If you are certain of your destination, but flexible with your dates. The blue & orange price graph allows you to see at a glance the cheapest days to fly. When you see a dip on the graph, hover over the bar to view the price. The example below is a real search. By playing with the dates, you are able to secure better pricing. You can set price alerts and receive emails when prices drop even further. The site also will give advice. See below “Now is a great time to book”. At $132 round trip, I’d say so.
But if you are like me, sometimes a getaway to a new destination is all the planning I need. In this case, you select your departure city and then select in the destination box drop down: “Anywhere”. From here, you can adjust your flight budget, then view all the cities you can fly to on your selected date and budget. I just love playing around with good deals!
Map of flights available in my budget.
Skyscanner is a very similar site and is sometimes better for international flights.
And, if you are a student and under 26 years old, there are even more discounts to be had. Check out STATravel and FlightCentre.
Even if you are traveling with your whole family, sometimes airlines can sell multiple airfare classes at different prices. Let’s say that you are traveling with one other person and only one seat is left in the lowest fare class, the airline will show you the highest fare class for both tickets.
If you search based on one ticket, most sites allow you to change the quantity further in the purchase section. If not, you can always book 2 separate tickets, then call the airline to connect your reservations and arrange seating.
After your book your flight, you can cancel or price adjust within 24 hours. If you see the price drop or change your mind, you can call the airline and cancel without penalty or receive a refund for the difference in airfare.
Shoulder season is just before or after peek season and many times a much cheaper time to fly. For example Italy’s prime season is during the summer months, if you go just after in September, prices significantly drop.
If you must book during the holidays, try flying on the actual holiday itself. Most people do not want to travel on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, therefore many deals to be had. This year, my family of 4 is flying Detroit to Miami on a one way ticket for less than $100.
Many airline companies charge you prices based on where they think you are. Using a Virtual Private Network (which encrypts all of your online data), may get you better deals on flights or other travel activities when booking from another country. The algorithms on booking sites take your location into account when determining flight prices, so it’s worth trying out a few location options to see if you can get a better deal! My go to VPN service is through NordVPN. It’s $2.99/month or $12 a vacation. The company does not log data and has servers in 40 countries. I always try searching flights from the country I’m planning to visit.
Tiffany is truly a credit card point guru. She was very patient and helped my husband and I navigate our credit card point game.
WE’VE SAT ON THOUSANDS OF POINTS FOR YEARS WITH NO CLUE HOW TO REALLY USE THEM. TIFFANY COACHED US HOW TO COMBINE OUR POINTS, TRANSFER POINTS AND ADD MORE POINTS THROUGH CREDIT CARD SIGN-ON BONUSES. AWESOME SERVICE.
WE OWN A SMALL BUSINESS AND HAVE ALWAYS WRITTEN CHECKS OR USED OUR DEBIT CARD EARNING ZERO TRAVEL REWARDS. WE’VE CHANGED OUR WHOLE WAY OF MANAGING MONEY AND ARE ON OUR WAY TO A FREE LUXURY VACATION THANKS TO TIFFANY.
TIFFANY HELPED MY HUSBAND AND I EARN A VACATION TO CROATIA BY USING SPECIFIC TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS ON OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING. WE HAD PLANNED TO WRITE CHECKS TO ALL OF THE VENDORS, SO GLAD WE MADE A 1:1 COACHING CALL.
WITH TIFFANY’S GUIDANCE, we EARNED 400,000 CREDIT CARD POINTS BUT WE DIDN’T KNOW HOW BEST TO USE THEM. WE HIRED HER TO PLAN OUR TRIP USING A COMBINATION OF POINTS, MILES AND CASH (CREDIT CARD). HIRING HER WAS THE BEST MONEY I’VE EVER SPENT. SHE WENT WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND. PARIS HERE WE COME.