We’ve all experienced the never-ending, repeated searching when trying to find cheap flights. With literally hundreds of search engines, airlines and travel agents offering fluctuating fares, trying to be frugal when it comes to booking flights can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve put together our top tips that will hopefully save you time, money and usual frustration that comes with booking a holiday.
If you’ve ever experienced flight prices going up between searches, you’re not going crazy and there’s not thousands of people trying to book the same flight as you. It’s more than likely the cookies on your browser, airline websites can detect when you’ve searched particular routes multiple times and its smart enough to adjust the fare based off this alone. Always change your browser to private browsing mode, or incognito if using chrome. It’ll enable you to search without having to worry about cookies being stored.
Your cookies are reset each time you open a private or incognito window. So close all your private windows and start from scratch between searches and you’ll start with a clean slate each time.
2. Start with a Flight Search Engine
The likes of Expedia are essentially a middle man when it comes to flights booked through them. So chances are they’ll stick a little something extra on top of the fare. (In saying that, we did find some great value fares last year though, €980 return in business with US Airways from London – New York).
Its best that you familiarise yourself with more than one search engine, as we’ve often found some slight variations between them.
It’s good to note that many of the above do not include budget airlines. If you’re looking for fares from the likes of Ryanair or Easyjet, you’ll have to head to their websites to check fares.
3. What a difference a day makes
When it comes to how flights are priced, it’s pretty complex. The length of a trip can really affect the price. Playing around with different date and length combinations can make a huge difference when trying to bag cheap flights.
For example, business travelers typically won’t spend a weekend at their destination, so if you’re planning to fly back on a Friday, check the price for Sunday instead. We saved over €3,000 on our flights to New York last year by staying for 10 days instead of 7. The only downside was the tiny A318 was packed full of business travelers heading to London for the week ahead.
4. Budget airlines can be your friend
Most budget airlines now offer a more à la carte experience. By stripping back everything but the seat from their fares you can then pick if you want to take a bag, buy food or get priority boarding. If you can live without a checked bag, food and don’t mind where you sit then you’re guaranteed to bag the cheapest flights.
Before going budget always check the following..
- Check the airport location (some budget airlines fly to airports that might be further out than the main airports).
- Ensure you’ve booked & paid for any baggage. Make sure you’ve got your measurements and weights right as they can charge a hefty fee if you’re over. They’ll also charge you extra if you pay at the airport.
- Read the fine print. Some airlines can charge you if you don’t print your own ticket or have more than the allowed pieces of hand luggage (this can include duty free).
5. Not sure where to go?
Kayak Explore is a great little tool if you’re just looking to get away for a weekend on a budget. Enter your departure city and select the month or season you want to fly. It’ll then calculate approximate costs for hundreds of destinations across the globe from your chosen departure airport. (so it turns out it’ll actually price in € if you go through their Irish site here)
6. Don’t leave it until the last minute
Airline tickets usually don’t get cheaper as your departure date approaches. Airlines will usually split prices into fare buckets, as once one sells out the next one will open, usually at a slightly higher price. If you know where you’re going and have your dates nailed down, book it, waiting on a sale that may never appear is never the best choice.