Have you ever wanted to go somewhere and ended up not going because just getting there is way too expensive? I have. But those days are now over - you have no excuses for not finding the best possible deal. Here are a couple of good tips on finding some of the cheapest airfare out there.
1. Cover your tracks
Have you ever noticed that the more you research the flight, the more the price goes up? Well, you’re not crazy - it’s a fact. Don’t kid yourself: marketers are more sophisticated than ever and they’re out to get you - with cookies. Cookies are sets of data, which track your behavior and help airlines determine your willingness to purchase a ticket. So they hike up the prices, hoping you’ll freak out and end up booking. Try doing this instead: make sure you’re browsing in incognito/private mode: if you’re using Google Chrome or Safari, just hit the command/control + shift + N keys: this will open a new window, which will allow you to browse privately.
2. Make the most of flight search engines
Have you ever heard of Skiplagged or Skyscanner? These search engines use unique algorithms and can allow to work on a low margin because of the high volume they make in sales. Sometimes you can save up to 80%! Skiplagged was so effective, that United Airlines undertook legal action against the company. Hopper is another great app, which is meant to help you determine when is the best time to buy.
3. Stay flexible with your flight dates
The more people want to travel the same date, the more expensive the ticket will be: it’s supply and demand, and I wish my economics professor was here to see me now. Тry to beat the crowd - if you’re planning on flying on a weekend or a major holiday, either book early or be flexible. Sometimes booking a flight a day later or a day earlier might save you a couple of hundred of euros.
4. Consider alternative paths
A friend of mine is flying to Merida, Mexico this summer. She was looking for a direct flight from Paris to Cancun, but she couldn’t see the prices - the tears in her eyes because of the outrageous prices were making it difficult to see the screen. Instead of taking this easy-but-way-too-expensive option, she opted for the let’s-fly-longer-but-cheaper one: she’s going from Nantes, France to Madrid, Spain - then to Frankfurt, Germany and Montreal, Canada before her last connection to Cancun, Mexico. Guess how much she’s saving? Оver €500. If you’re looking for cheaper ways to fly, you might want to try an alternative option to the direct route.
5. Fly budget airlines
If you’re ready to sacrifice a bit of leg room, the on-board entertainment or a meal, then budget airlines will probably become your best friends. There are plenty of them, from Easyjet and Ryanair to Wizz Air or Iberia Express. A word of advice before you do: don’t forget to check-in online and print your boarding pass, some of these airlines will charge you a hefty fee if you haven’t done your homework. You should also make sure you respect the carry-on baggage allowance.
6. Use your student status to find discounts
Whether you’re a student planning your Erasmus trip or just your next holiday, you should know that there are a lot of discounts on airfare. Several website are also dedicated to helping students in booking their flights: STA travel can help you find some really sweet deals!
7. Book your flight early… but not too early
Booking anywhere between 6 and 8 weeks before your flight is somewhat optimal: the closer to D-day, the more expensive the ticket will be, especially within 14 days of your flight. If you’re travelling internationally, you might want to book even earlier than that. An alternative would be to wait for the last-minute deals and pray there will still be something interesting for you - but don’t bet your holidays on this alone.
8. Subscribe to a frequent flyer program
Most airlines have their own loyalty programs, which is a win-win for both sides: it encourages you to book your flights with them more often, and you’re rewarded for it, usually with “points”. The specifics of each loyalty program depend on the airline, but they usually allow you to get advantageous fares once you’ve travelled a certain distance.
9. Be on the lookout for airline error fares
Airlines are pretty big and sometimes they make mistakes when publishing their fares, which is a golden opportunity for you, and before you ask - yes, it is perfectly legal and it is binding. You can use websites such as Airfare Watchdog or Secret Flying, that reference all these pricing errors in the same place. It’s not impossible to find an 80% discount on tickets using this simple trick.
10. Ask for a refund if prices go down after you’ve bought yours
“Oh man, I bought my ticket 120€ and now it’s only 90€…”. Sounds familiar? You can ask the airline for a refund - each has it’s own policy on the matter, but you might get the difference back or you can cancel your ticket within 24h and get a full refund. Yapta can even track the flights you purchased a ticket for and send you an alert when prices drop. Keep in mind that there’s no guarantee you can get your money back.
Should you experience delay, cancellation or refused boarding with your flight, you might be entitled to up to 600€ in compensation. Don’t hesitate to try our Compensation calculator and find out if you’re eligible!
Do you have your own proprietary technique of finding ultra-cheap tickets? Share it with us - we like to take our team on vacation too! Subscribe for more cool tips and useful travel information!