The flight prices have been sky-high this year, in a way that I’ve never seen before. With higher gas, food, and pretty much everything else, it’s no wonder why you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to flight prices.
Even in the midst of these crazy flight prices, I’ve managed to get some pretty mind-blowing deals on flights within the US and to Europe as well. Below are my top 5 tips and tricks to remember when booking!
#1: Be on the lookout for seasonal sales from major airlines
This one is something few people consider, know about, or have on their radar but it could save you a bunch of money! It’s great if your dates and/or destination are somewhat flexible. The seasonal sales typically range from a week to just a few days, where travelers can take advantage of incredibly discounted flights.
Typically, there will be a window of time that the flights must take place within (ex: Jetblue was September 1st- November 16th) and there may also be blackout days of the week (ex: Jetblue blacked out Friday and Saturday flights). Being flexible with your dates is your number one way to score deals if you’re hoping to take advantage of an airline sale.
Here’s a recent example of a flight I booked, taking advantage of Jetblue’s Fall Sale.
Boston to LAX Round trip, nonstop: $251
Typical price: $400+
#2: Utilize Google Flights
If you don’t know about Google Flights, you are missing out. It is my favorite way to find cheap flights because it instantly compiles rates for flights across all airlines and all destinations. One cool feature is that you can select your departing location and then leave the destination blank. This will then present you with a world map highlighting the cheapest flights worldwide.
Another cool feature about google flights is its price tracking. When researching, the website will tell you how the flight prices compare to averages, along with the flight price history. If your flight price is listed as “high”, you can then sign up for alerts when the flight price drops.
Once you’ve found your flights, move to step 3 to ensure the cheapest + most secure booking.
#3: Book directly on the airline website
Booking directly onsite is the best way to go. It ensures that there are no mix-ups with tickets, and generally charges you less because there are no service fees from the 3rd party provider such as Kayak. Additionally, many 3rd party sites promising extremely cheap tickets, are fraudulent or riddled with errors that may cause you to miss your plane, or not even be able to get on it at all.
I cannot stress this enough. In the era of COVID- being able to change, cancel, or switch flights is essential. Booking flights through 3rd parties need to be a thing of the past, as they do not grant you these same protections. For example, many airlines are now including free changes and cancellations as part of the ticket conditions. However, if you book with a 3rd party, those may not be included. Additionally, booking through a 3rd party complicates things immensely when attempting to change or cancel, as most airlines will require you to make those changes with the middle man instead of through the airline itself.
#4: Book one-way flights
Something I never thought to do until recently is purchase one way flights. Often times though, they are cheaper than round trips. I’m not saying this works every single time, but lately I’ve had a lot of luck with it. This is ideal in a few scenarios:
- You want to pay the lowest flight price for both legs of your trip, but the cheapest flights are on different airlines. Ex: My flight to LAX is Delta and my flight back to Boston is Jetblue. This was the cheapest combination, as Delta flights was $50 cheaper than the Jetblue flight and it was leaving at a better time!
- You want to start and end your trip in different places. This is ideal to do for European trips where you’re visiting multiple countries, or if you’re doing a roadtrip. Often times airlines have hubs in different locations, so you can take advantage of the lower prices for airlines with a larger fleet flying out of the city. Additionally, I’ve found that multi-city trips are complicated to book online and very hard to make changes to after booking. (Ex: 4 state road trip- Boston to Salt Lake City one way and Bozeman MT to Boston one way)
#5: Don’t be afraid of longer layovers, early or late flights, and budget airlines
Longer Layovers: If you have time to spare, often times flights with longer layovers are going to be cheaper. This is a great way to quickly explore a new place if you’re someone that’s willing to go see things when you’re tired and potentially jetlagged. This is an option that I’d definitely take advantage of if I was traveling from the US to Europe or the US to Australia. A travel blogger I know, Nicole Rosania of the Abroad Blog, booked a flight on Play airlines from Boston to Europe with a 48 hour layover in Reykjavik. This was a perfect opportunity for her to explore Iceland for 2 days and continue on to her summer in Europe.
Early & Late Flights: These types of flights are sometimes annoying due to the toll it takes on sleep. Whether it’s getting up super early or not getting to your hotel until very late at night, these definitely are not the most ideal flight choices. HOWEVER, sometimes you can save tens or hundreds of dollars just by being willing to lose a few hours of sleep. This is also a great way to avoid long airport lines and traffic to your hotel. TIP: If you have a late flight, you can always ask your hotel or hostel to hold your bags while you explore.
Budget Airlines: Let’s face it, budget airlines within the US have horrible reviews. Honestly, you’ll never catch me on Spirit or Frontier. With that said, this is NOT how it is in Europe. Yes, Ryanair isn’t the most comfortable, but I’d much rather take a $12 flight to Greece than a $100 flight to Greece.