How to find the cheapest flights in 2019

This morning, when I was scrolling through Instagram, I noticed that there are plenty of people who seem to travel the world at all times. For many people, this is a dream coming true. And being a Millennial, I also suffer from a serious case of wanderlust: I want to travel to as many places as possible in my life – the goal is to travel to every country at least once. This is quite a mission with 195 countries to go to with an average life span of 90ish years. But apart from the time factor, it is also terribly expensive. So I sat down and did some research on the best tips and tricks to save as much money on flights as possible.    

Use the incognito browser function

If you are looking at the same flight multiple times, the cookies in your browser will remember your searches. This has an influence on the pricing of the flights: the more you look at a specific date/flight, the more it seems like it is urgent for you to get this specific flight. Therefore, to trick the software, use the incognito or private as it resets your cookies every time you open a new window, and therefore, there is no influence on the pricing of the trip. To open an incognito window use the following shortcut: Safari and Google Chrome: “control/command+shift+N” Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer: “control/command+shift+P”  

Plan in advance and identify the cheapest date to fly out

There used to be the myth that there are special days within the week when it´s cheapest to book a flight. You can find plenty of tips on the internet that tell you it is best to book the flight at 3 am on a Thursday night. But this is not the case anymore – if it ever was! Generally, flights are most expensive if you have to book them short term; they are rarely getting cheaper the closer you get towards the fly out date. Therefore, get the tickets as early as possible, and also consider to fly on a different day, if it is cheaper one day before or after your designated date. The more flexible you are with the date and time, the more money you can save. Talking about flexibility: Remember to compare the difference in pricing within the month. There are always some days, that are mysteriously cheaper than every other day of the month. In order to find out which is the cheapest date to fly, open the search engine of your choice and enter your airport of departure and destination. Then select “whole month” to see all the prices. Best search engines for this are SkyScanner, GoogleFlights, and Kiwi.  

Use the best search engine for your trip

As we are already speaking of search engines, these are my favourite websites to do my research before booking a flight: Traveling internationally:
    • Skyscanner: The best search engine to compare a large variety of airlines.
    • Kiwi: The best to book flights, trains, and buses to travel internationally. They also offer a guaranty for meeting connecting flights, if you book a flight with a layover.
    • Kajak: This search engine offers the possibility to add nearby airports for departure and arrival. Sometimes it is cheaper to fly out or fly to another airport than the one you had in mind.
    • Google Flights: The google search engine is very reliable and also great to get a quick first overview for your upcoming trip. Further, they offer advice on whether you should book the flight or not, as they show you if the price is rather high or low in comparison with the prices of other flights to your destination.
    • Airwatchdog: They show you possible pricing errors of airlines. You can, for example, find a first class flight from Berlin to Hongkong for $1500 instead of $15 000. Why is that you might ask. These are mostly based on currency conversion mishaps, technical glitches, or human error. Airwatchdogs searches for these mistakes and is updated daily.
Traveling within Europe:
    • Ryanair cheap deals: This site that is powered by the budget airline Ryanair shows the cheapest flights from your airport to anywhere in Europe. If you are looking for an adventure or are just not too picky about the destination and time of your trip, have a look there. They offer flights from as cheap as $4.00.
    • Omio: Use this search engine to compare the cheapest deal to travel within Europe.  As they also include trains and buses, you also have the opportunity to see if there is a cheaper alternative to the flight you want to book.
 

Apps for on the go

Sometimes you just don´t have your computer on hand. Therefore, some of the search engines also have an app, some of them even notify you of price drops. Consider to download these apps:
    • Skyscanner
    • Kiwi
    • Kayak
    • Omino
    • Ryanair (or a similar budget airline app like EasyJet etc.)
Buy your tickets in bulk Consider buying all the tickets for your flights in one session. As long as you decide to fly with the same airline, it might be cheaper to book a roundtrip as they are often offered on a discount and, therefore, this can be cheaper than booking two one-way-tickets. If you want to stop at multiple destinations, think about getting a multiple-cities-ticket. You can save some serious cash if you use a multiple-destinations-function of for example Skyscanner. Another possibility is the Around the World Tickets offered by Star Alliance that offer round trips to multiple destinations within one trip on a discount. But remember to do your research: sometimes some separately booked flights from different, local budget airlines might still be cheaper.

Add a destination to your trip

Especially if you are traveling further away, it is often cheaper to get a split flight with a layover somewhere. So how about you add a couple of days at the destination of your stopover? You not only get to visit more than one place within one trip but also save some coins by adding a stop. by stopover, I don´t mean a couple of hours, but specifically a couple of days. I repeat: I´m speaking of flights that are one or two days apart. You can achieve this by booking not one flight with a layover, but by booking the two flights separately. This is especially nice if you are not running on a tight schedule.

 

Look out for hidden flights

Have you ever heard of hidden flights? These are flights that contain a stopover somewhere on the way to another destination. One tip that is recommended multiple times on the internet is to look out for cheap flights to anywhere with a stopover in the city you want to travel to. For example, you want to travel to Amsterdam, but the flight is really expensive. While doing your research, you come across a ridiculously cheap flight to Oslo with a layover in Amsterdam. So instead of booking the expensive flight, go for the cheap one to Oslo and just don´t take the connecting flight. Please only consider this option if
    • you are flying with carry-on luggage only. Checked in luggage will go to the final destination of your flight, therefore, you won´t get your suitcase at the stopover.
    • the stopover means that you have to change the plane. Some stopovers are only to refuel the plan, so you are not allowed to leave the plane. Please check before booking the flight, if you are actually able to leave the airport.
Also, please keep in mind that the airline might notice that you didn´t take the connecting flight and ask you why you missed it. But the consequences for that are hard to determine, as people miss flights all the time. Anyhow, it´s easier to get away with missing a flight with budget airlines than with the more expensive airlines, as budget airlines do not offer a refund if you miss a flight or can´t take the flight.

Fly with budget airlines

Budget airlines are great if you want to get from A to B as cheap as possible. And if you can compromise on leg room and you are fine with only being allowed to bring hand luggage on the flight, this is the perfect way for you to go. The light should be as comfortable as a more expensive airline, as long as you follow some easy rules:
  1. Check the allowed size and weight for your carry on luggage, as they will charge you for everything that does not fit their rules. Do not guess, always weight and measure! Many budget airlines charge ridiculous high excess baggage fees, so don´t gamble!
  2. You won´t get any complimentary food or drinks during the flight, so think of bringing something, especially if it is a long flight.
  3. Remember to check in before going to the airport. Luckily, you don´t have to print out the ticket anymore. Just bring it on your smartphone or tablet.
  4. Some budget airlines only fly to airports that are further out of the cities. So check before booking the flight how much the travel is from the airport to the actual destination. It might be cheaper in the long run to catch the flight that is more expensive.
  5. Always check for hidden fees for e.g. paying with specific credit cards, additional taxes etc.

Quick recap of the gist:

  1. Use the incognito function of your browser to research your trips.
  2. Plan in advance and identify the cheapest date to fly out
  3. Use search engines and compare the results.
  4. Download the most useful apps to check the pricing on the go.
  5. Book your tickets in bulk.
  6. Add another destination to your trip.
  7. Look for “hidden” flights.
  8. Fly with budget airlines.
Written by Vivienne Berg