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How to Find the Cheapest Flights

How to Find the Cheapest Flights

We always thought that by visiting a few usual suspects before deciding on which flight to book we were doing our due diligence. Spoiler alert: we were wrong, like DEAD WRONG!

Like many frequent fliers, we’d use a flight or travel search engine like Expedia or Travelocity to get what seemed to be a good deal. If we were really feeling ambitious we’d even hop on Southwest’s App to see if their “Wanna Get Away” pricing was any better. What we eventually learned though is that this strategy really isn’t a strategy at all. In fact, the majority of the time, travelers pay more on the beforementioned mainstream search engines because they’re marking up flights listed on their sites. After all, these publicly traded companies do need to turn a profit. #capitalism

Thus, with this in mind, we set out to do things a little differently to get one of those awesome deals that one friend we all have keeps bragging about. And that’s exactly what we did!

So, sit back, relax and enjoy as we give you the inside scoop on what we learned and how you can score the best price on airline tickets. Don’t say we never did anything for ya!

If it Seems too Good to be True…it Probably is.

Budget airlines like Frontier and Spirit are a great way to save money on air travel. While these carriers advertise the best possible price on airfare, it’s very, very important to read the fine print associated with their no-frills pricing. If not, you can be caught off-guard having to pay additional charges for services such as checked bags, which can add up quite quickly! If fliers aren’t careful, they often end up paying more than if they just flew with a larger airline. So much for that great deal! To avoid buyer’s remorse, do your research and learn what’s an acceptable size and weight for a carry-on bag, know if there are additional charges for seat reservations, extra legroom, etc. The more you know, the better your chances of maintaining the no-frills pricing you signed up for. If you do your research and feel confident you can avoid additional charges and fees, by all means, book away! Some of the best budget airlines we found were JetBlue, Virgin America, and Southwest, in case you were curious.

When is the Best Time to Fly?

A recent survey from cheapair.com says that it’s a window of 21 – 121 days in advance of your departure date. Wait longer than that and pricing increases exponentially, so don’t procrastinate (no judgment if you do, we’re right there with you)! If you need to book a little further in advance, CheapAir’s research says the next best window is 122 – 168 days in advance. Try to stick to these two windows whenever possible as to maximize your savings. If you want to break it down even further, CheapAir gives your best windows for each season:

  • Summer: 14 – 160 days
  • Fall: 21 – 100 days
  • Winter: 21 – 110 days
  • Spring: 46 – 122 days

So, when are planning your next trip?!

Best Day(s) to Fly:

You betcha! Based on CheapAir’s awesome research, you’ll want to fly on either a Tuesday or Wednesday if you want to score the lowest priced airfare as these tend to be the least crowded planes. Try and stay away from Sundays as they tend to be the most expensive. Who knew?

De-Fence! De-Fence!

By now we all know how companies use cookies (not the good kind!) to advertise their products or services to customers who have shown an interest in the past. There’s a reason your Facebook keeps showing you the website or product you literally just looked at. That’s no accident, it’s because of cookies and it’s no different with airlines. They use cookies to identify shoppers looking at certain flights and increase pricing the more those shoppers check their sites. This is an attempt to create urgency and scare shoppers into booking sooner. Our friends over at Thrifty Nomads suggest browsing in “top secret” mode to defend against this tactic. What exactly is top secret mode? It’s browsing incognito or using a “private” browsing mode on your computer, tablet or phone. This resets cookies every time you open a new browser, so say goodbye to those repeating banners or adds!

The Not So Usual Suspects

It’s time to trade in your mainstream sites and apps for a few blue chips. For example, Thrifty Nomads suggests using Skyscanner to identify the cheapest days and months to fly. It’s as easy as hopping on the app, entering the airport you’re departing from and city you’re traveling to, selecting one way and clicking the “depart” field to see the cheapest days to fly in a given month or the cheapest months to travel in general. Finally, click “search flights.” Done and done!

Another great resource and a personal favorite of ours is Hopper’s mobile app. Hopper allows you to search the lowest cost airfare while tapping into historical data to predict whether prices for your travel dates are predicted to rise or fall. The joys of modern technology! Think you can get a better price buying at a later date?  Set up alerts and Hopper will notify you as prices change. Now that’s making an app work for you!

Kiwi is another app/site that you’re gonna want to have in your travel tool belt. What sets Kiwi apart is that it goes the extra mile to get you the cheapest possible flight by possibly booking you tickets on two completely different airlines. Wait, what?! For instance, if you’re flying from Philadelphia to San Antonio, you may take Southwest from Philly to Chicago then get on an American Airlines flight from Chicago to San Antonio. We promise, not many travel sites or apps are doing this! Almost just as rare is Kiwi’s guarantee which protects customers from delays and cancellations. If a customer does run into an issue out of their control, Kiwi will get provide an alternative flight or price refund. Cheap flights and peace of mind? Yes, please!

Show Me… More Than the Money!

Momondo and Hipmunk allow you to search for the cheapest flights and set price alerts like other travel sites and apps. Big deal, right? What sets these two apart is the ability to take other factors into consideration. Momondo combines price with info on flight time, as well as arrival and departure times, while Hipmunk provides an agony index that takes into consideration not only similar factors but also layovers and whether or not your flight has amenities such as wi-fi. These are perfect apps for fliers looking to strike a balance between price and convenience, in other words, everyone!

So, there you go! You’re now ready to find and book your next flight for the cheapest fare!

Anything to add, let us know! In the meantime, keep an eye out for a new Choice Words blog every Wednesday and be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for even more useful information!

Until then, good luck out there and safe (and hopefully cheap) travels!

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