10 top tips to find a crazy cheap flight
Published in june 2016, last update in july 2019.
I’m a junkie when it comes to cheap airplane tickets. I’m addicted to comparing flights and destinations, always searching for a price that blows you away. But how the hell do you start your search to find that amazingly cheap flight? Don’t worry, I share my tips for finding crazy cheap flights in this blog!
1. Search incognito
The internet is watching you. If you visit a website you will give this site some information about yourself and your interests. If you visit a website of an airline multiple times the websites knows you’re interested in the flights. And then they ‘just’ add a few extra dollars. Because you will buy it anyway, right?
So how can you find cheap flights at these websites?
But you don’t want them to know what you are looking for! How can you be a ninja on the internet and searching for a flight without getting noticed, ending up with higher fees? Delete your search history and your cache history is a good start. It’s also good to open a new incognito window to make sure the website doesn’t save your search history. You can read here how you can do this. It’s really not that hard!
2. Check out the discounts
I signed up for the newsletters of some airlines. Almost every week I receive some discounts for a specific region or even for a booking to any place in the world. Sometimes you can save up to 30 dollars!
There are a couple of general websites, but of course the websites of low-cost airlines have news letters as well to keep you updated with discounts and special prices. Of course service is shitty and don’t expect any comfort, but it makes you travel from A to B really cheap. And that’s what you are looking for, right? Some low-cost airlines in Europe are Ryanair, Transavia, Easyjet, Wizzair and Vueling. Since 2019 WowAir doesn’t exist anymore.
3. Error fares can result in flying REALLY CHEAP
There are a bunch of websites that are specialized in finding really cheap flights. They check when a price goes down drastically. Sometimes it can be a bug on the website of the airplane company, sometimes it’s just a discount for a couple of hours. Or the airplane company simply makes a small mistake and doesn’t realize it immediately.
Check out some of these websites or sign up for their newsletters:
4. Sign up for loyalty programs of airlines
Many airlines like United, AirAsia and even Ryanair have loyalty programs. It’s really simple to sign up: you just fill in some information about yourself and after that you’ll receive an email that you will earn point from that moment. I know some people who flew for free with Jetair because they saved enough points with Emirates. And we all love free flights, don’t we? It’s also possible to change the points for an upgrade to business class or for some discount for your next flight. Also, frequent flyers are more likely to get a free upgrade than other passengers.
5. ‘Negotiate’ about the price
I don’t think airlines will like this tip, but it works sometimes. Once I was searching for cheap flights to South America. I found one and I started the booking. But there it was – a discount code with another airline. So I closed the page and booked the flight with the discount.
Half an hour later I received an email of the first airline company. I could still finish my booking with €15 euros extra discount. I already booked my flight, but this was good to know! It’s like bargaining on a market in Asia. You look at a souvenir, ask for the price and then walk away to see the stuff of other vendors. The man or woman will probably yell that you can get the souvenir for a better price. Recognizable? Well, this is almost the same!
6. Set up a price alert
Do you already know when you want to go and what your destination is? Then you can set up a price alert, for example with Skyscanner. You fill in the date and the destination and then you sign up for the alert. When a flight is getting more expensive or cheaper you will receive an email.
It’s nice that Skyscanner also shows you what the average price of that flight is in the mails. This way you can check if you already have a good deal or if you should wait a little longer for a better price.
7. Last minute or early bird?
This is a difficult one. Sometimes you can find some really cheap last minute flights. For just for a couple of dollars you can fly from Amsterdam to London for example. But that’s only when an airline is desperate for passengers. If the flight is almost fully booked the last minute prices will be sky high. Sometimes it also pays off to book a couple of months beforehand.
In january 2016 I flew for €30 euros from the Netherlands to Venice and back, but I booked the flights in october 2015. Three months beforehand. My mum visited me while I was in Venice. She bought her ticket only a couple of weeks beforehand and paid €80 euros for that same flight! It seems that the best time to buy a plane ticket is about 6 to 8 weeks beforehand.
8. Check out the other nearby airports
Sometimes a less popular airport can have really good prices for long distance flights. For example, a single flight from Amsterdam to Cuba is around €600 euros, while the single flight from Brussels to Cuba is only €200 euros. Quite a difference, right?
Please do pay attention to the costs of traveling towards other airports. Sometimes the flight can be cheaper, but the trip to the airport can be more expensive than usual. For example: if I see a flight for €20 euros from Brussels or €50 euros from Eindhoven I will still choose Eindhoven. It takes a lot of time for me to go to Brussels (so it has to be worth some discount) and the trip is also €20-30 euros.
There are probably more options for international airports than you think. From my hometown Den Bosch in the Netherlands I already have more than 10 international airports that I can use (in the Netherlands and in Belgium)!
9. Don’t book in the weekends
A lot of people check out the flights in the weekends, instead of on weekdays. Airlines and travel companies know this, so they will often charge a little bit more when you book your flight in the weekend. Tuesday seems to be the best day to book a flight because airlines change their prices again.
10. Take it easy with the luggage
If it’s possible you should try to only travel with hand luggage. With almost every airline you have to pay extra for checked-in luggage. Also be careful with the low-cost airlines. They are super picky about the hand luggage. If you’re luggage is too big or too heavy you easily pay an extra €30-50 euros to check in your hand luggage! I had this once with Ryanair, which made my flight quite expensive in the end.
Do you have another great tip? Share it with me and other travelers in a comment!