When planning a trip the cost of airfare is usually the most costly component. Being able to find cheap flights is key to having more money left for the trip itself. Here are some proven ways to save money by finding and booking cheap flights.
Book Your Flight Early
Unlike cruises, hotels, and vacation resorts, finding a last minute deal on a flight is rare. The airlines work very hard to fill their flights and to charge as much as they can for a seat on them. As seats fill up on a flight, airlines will generally raise the price. This is especially true if you are looking for business class seat. For any remaining seats the airline has the option of rewarding loyal travelers who pay thousands each year with the airline. So as a general rule you want to look for your flight at least a month out from when you want to travel and aiming for the 1 to 3 month range is usually when you fill find the best price. You also have a much better chance of getting the seat you want when you book this early. Nothing says getting a bad deal more than sitting in the middle seat, in row 35, of a 4 hour flight, having paid twice as much as the people sitting around you because you held out for that last minute flight deal that never happened!
Use Several Travel Portals
When booking a flight you have so many options today it can be difficult to know if you are finding the best available price. In addition to booking directly through the carrier it is often advantageous to check prices on a few travel portals. If that sounds like too much work there are even travel portals that exist just to search the prices available through other travel sites. kayak.com is one such travel search portal that you can use to search across the travel site landscape.
Flexible Travel Plans
On some trips being flexible is easy. If you can be flexible with your travel dates and times you'll have more success finding a cheap flight. Often the most convenient time for you is also the most convenient for other travelers going to the same destination. As we know airlines are maximizing profits on their flights you can get a better price by booking less convenient, lower demand flights. Even looking at things like alternative nearby airports or taking a flight at an inconvenient hour can help.
Book a Connecting Flight
Again it comes back to supply and demand, but a connecting flight is often cheaper. So if you're traveling light and can switch planes along the way, connecting flights are often cheaper flights. Sometimes adding in a second stop or mixing in carriers along the way are ways to save. The key again is being flexible to find flights in less demand. Use travel search portals to find connecting flights and select 1 stop or 2+ stops when searching.
Using Award Miles
Many credit cards today offer travel rewards that you can use for booking flights. American Express has cards that offer you flight bookings, travel insurance, baggage insurance, and many other travel perks. Finding a card that lets you collect points that you can use for that special trip makes finding a cheap flight all the easier. Sometimes you can earn enough points over the year to fly for free. Now that is a cheap flight!
Often early in the next season, airlines will put on a special for specific routes. Registering to receive emails from the airlines is a great way to stay informed of any deals they have on. If you can be flexible in when you travel you may find that perfect flight for a great price this way. It does require planning ahead but when it comes to finding cheap flights that is often the case. By planning where you want to go and roughly picking a date you can start to watch for sales on flights about 4 to 6 months out from departure.
When looking for a cheap flight it is important to think about supply and demand. Planning ahead, being flexible, collecting reward points and using travel search portals are your best bets for finding a cheap flight. Being persistent is key to finding a great deal!