Flying: How I find cheap flights
The biggest cost out of your wallet when it comes to traveling is most likely the flights to and from your destination. Although the costs are high, they are getting cheaper every year with the increase number of international airlines mixed with the bump in competition. Through a lot of trial and error I have narrowed down some way to reduce those costs and save you precious funds you can use on other parts of your trips.
1. FLY ON OFF DAYS.
Flying on off days means flying on days and times when most people don’t normally travel. Airlines lower the prices on tickets that are less desired and they know that most people are traveling on certain days at certain times. The airlines goal is to pack as many customers into each plane on every flight, increasing the amount of money they make per flight. Airlines have problems when there are empty seats on there flights, in order to fill those seats, they lower their prices to entice passengers into buying the cheaper ticket. To the airline, a reduced fare for a seat that would otherwise be empty is a profit.
Flights that leave on days closer to the weekend tend to be priced considerably higher. At the same rate, flying at more convenient times will also increase the price.
For example, if you are trying to fly on Friday afternoon at 4pm, your basically booking the most desired flight and you’re going to pay a pretty penny for it. A large portion of the flying population is trying to leave on a Friday at 4pm. They are heading off after work to catch a flight for their vacation, or flying back to their homes after a week working on location.
Now the other side, the cheaper, and honestly better side. Flying mid week really is a dream. The lines are shorter, the flights are roomier, and the price is perfect. Booking a flight for a Wednesday at 6AM or 9PM will cut your costs anywhere from 15-50%. Whenever I plan a trip, if at all possible I try to book flights on days and times like this, cutting the cost and a good chunk of the stress out.
2. THE PROPER DAYS TO BOOK FLIGHTS
Did you know that the day of the week that you book a flight can change the price of that flight? In the same fashion that the airlines use to reduce prices for certain flights because of low occupancy expectations on specific days, they reduce prices for certain flights on certain days that they expect a low number of people will book flights. Now thats a tongue twister.
So, whats the magic day? Its TUESDAY!
Booking a flight on a Tuesday reduced the fare anywhere from 10-25%. There are a lot of factors that make Tuesday the special day, but none of them truly matter to you, all you need to know is TUESDAY.
3. BOOKING IN ADVANCE
This one is all about balance and finding the sweet spot. Airlines like when you book your flights out months and months in advance, that is a seat filled and a job done on their part. They also want to get the most that they can for that flight, so when they release tickets for a flight, they start off moderate. Yes booking months and months out gets you a reduced fair compared to booking a week out, but its not the cheapest way to book. Airlines drop their prices around a month to three weeks out, any seats that haven’t been booked at this time need to get filled and the airlines begin to get more desperate. After about 2 1/2 weeks away from the departure date of a flight, the prices begin to rise and keep rising. The airlines do this because they know that most people who are booking during this time are desperate for one reason or another and NEED these flights.
A day or two away from a departure is sometimes a bargain bucket for flights. If a flights cabin is only about half booked a couple days away from take off, airlines will sometimes run crazy deals on these seats as a last ditch effort to make up any losses. This is a gamble because if the flights aren’t book enough by this time, the airlines often will just cancel the flight entirely, moving any booked passengers to other flights. And if a plane is nearly full, the empty seat prices are actually considerably increased due to the lack of supply.
4. AIRLINE LOYALTY
Whether you fly once a month or once a year, I always suggest signing up loyalty programs through any airlines that you’re flying on. Essentially a loyalty program grants you milage credits for booking the specific airlines flights and most of them have affiliate deals with other airlines that you can redeem your miles through. You can earn free flights pretty quickly just by entering your loyalty number when booking flights, after a few trips you will have enough credits to get free or highly discounted trips.
Have you flown in the last 18 months and are just now finding out about this? No problem. Most airlines will give you credits for any flight you can prove you paid for in the last 12-18 months. Its as simple as entering the flight confirmation code and your name!
Loyalty programs often offer deals on non flight things like shopping or eating at specific restaurants. I have my credit card linked to my Alaskan Airlines program and now whenever I purchase certain items through their site or eat out at a recognized spot, I earn anywhere between 1 and 5 miles for every dollar. This is all stuff you will purchase anyway, but now your shopping spree is helping you reach your travel goals!
5. CREDIT CARDS
Many different credit card companies offer a variety of deals on airline miles. Some offer up to 50k airline miles just for signing up for the card. Others offer travel credit cash back on purchases, where you accrue a percentage of the money you spend and can use it to pay for anything travel related, from car rentals, lodging and yes, you can use it on flights.
Airlines often have their own credit cards that you can sign up for with even better give backs. I suggest looking around for the one that suits you best. And if you are a crazy traveler that drools at the sight of discount flights, I have heard tale of people opening cards, spending the minimum limit to get miles, then opening a second similar card and using one to pay off the other and earning double the milage. I myself have never tried this method, but there is tales of people doing crazy things with credit lines in order to obtain an insane amount of free miles. Do you research and don’t ruin your credit in hopes of a cheaper vacation.
6.KNOW WHERE TO LOOK
When booking a flight it is important that you look around in order to find the cheapest price. There is a million websites out there all promising the best deals available, but not all of them are on the up and up. A good starting point on finding where the cheapest flights are, is by simply signing up for email notifications on deals through various airlines. My inbox is full of emails from all of the major airlines and most of those emails are for extremely cheap flights from one specific location to another. Now you may see a flight from San Francisco to Sydney Australia pop up for an ungodly discounted fare, but you live in Portland, what do you do? Take a look at the price for flights from Portland to San Francisco! Often you can find cheap one way tickets to another city that has a better deal.
So if a flight from Portland to Sydney is 1600$ but a flight from San Fran to Sydney is only 1150$, take a 100$ flight to the bay and you’re still saving hundreds on a trip to the land down under.
You next option is Google.com/flights.
This is a great tool especially for beginners because it lists a ton of flights from numerous airlines and you can use their calendar view to quickly see if flight out a day earlier or later is worth the difference in price. I use this for day dream traveling where I plan trips that I don’t intend on purchasing, it helps me gauge the price to get to any given location and you can easily see the best times of year to travel for lower costs.
7. THERES AN APP FOR THAT
There are a ton of apps that send you deals on different flights but probably my all time favorite app is HOPPER.
Hopper is an amazing free app where you can input your destination and your travel dates and it will track flights for you! Sending you notifications any time the price of a flight changes along with a nice suggestion on if they predict the flight will continue to drop in price or if its hit its lowest point and you should book now.
This app takes all of the worrying and research out and does it for you but I would be careful. Some flights that appear are through not so reliable airlines that have a high number of canceled or changed flights. They also show flights on planes that require a substantial fee for check bags and other amenities while in the air, so double check what airline you’re flying through and do a quick search on their baggage policies before clicking that confirm button.
8. ANOTHER WAY TO EARN MILES
There are countless ways you can earn airline miles as I listed above, but one super easy way is ERewards.com
ERewards.com is a survey sight in which uses are rewarded credits for taking online surveys. Basically a company needs some data on its consumers, they contact ERewards.com and put out a survey, you make a profile on the ERewards site and depending on some factors about yourself, you will get sent different surveys to fill out. Each survey you complete is worth anywhere from 5-500 points and after you earn a certain amount of points, you can redeem them for milage from some top airlines. They have a ton of other rewards you can redeem your points for also, amazon gift cards, AMEX cards, Groupon credits, the list goes on.
This is an extremely low maintenance way to work toward your travel goals, I usually fill out surveys while binging Netflix or on public transit, a few surveys a day and you’ll be packing your bags in no time.
In conclusion there isn’t one specific way to get cheaper flights, there are many many ways and the further you dig into finding them, the more that appear. I hope that this gives a little more insight onto the process of finding discounted travel and can help you on your journey to paradise.
For any questions or inquiries about cheap flights, feel free to contact me.