For many finding a plane ticket at a good price is like battling through an obstacle course. It’s happened to all of us – you’ve seen a flight and said you’ll book it the next day, only to see in horror that prices have shot up overnight! To help you find cheaper tickets and save money when booking your holidays, read on for some handy tips picked by yours truly!
Seeing as its pretty much my daily mission to spot cheap holidays and flights, I can say that I’ve got plenty of experience in finding the cheapest prices! Many readers e-mail or comment asking for cheap flights, or say that they’re struggling to find holidays within their budget because flights are too expensive. Well, take a little time to read through my top 10 tips for finding cheap flights. Hopefully you’ll be able to take a little bit of my know-how with you and use it to bag yourselves some cheap deals. You’ll be experienced bargain hunters in no time, I’m sure! :)
Holidayguru’s Top 10 Tips for Finding Cheap Flights
Tip #1 – Be flexible with your dates
Plane tickets are generally 9.5% cheaper in November and 20% more expensive in August
I know – this piece of advice is quite difficult to follow if you have children or if you can only get certain dates off work, but if you can even be just a little flexible with when you travel, you’ll be surprised by how much it really can help you save money. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to set off in September instead of July (even if I do heartily recommend it!), but you can also apply it to the days of the week. In fact, you can spend a lot less money on your plane ticket if you decide to fly mid-week, rather than opting for travelling over the weekend. So, when you’re searching for tickets, remember to look for tickets on a couple of days either side of your original plans . You’ll see that it can really make a big difference. Another tip is that airlines may only have direct flights from Ireland to a destination on certain days of the week. Do a bit of research in advance if you’re not sure, otherwise you might be flying indirect to a destination that’s only really 2 hours away!
Tip #2 – Be flexible with your destination
You’re probably thinking “easier said than done!” again! And I totally understand that. But, I often have problems when some of you ask me to look for a holiday to a particular place from a particular airport. Unfortunately, not all destinations are accessible from every airport! So, before looking at the price of plane tickets, take a look at the website of your nearest airport to see which routes are operated by airlines from there. Of course, it’s possible to stop over if you really really want to go to a particular holiday destination. However, if you’re thinking about travelling to Sardinia, but you can only get flights to Sicily, then maybe consider spending a holiday there instead! All things considered, when a destination is that beautiful anyway you’re hardly missing out. :)
Tip #3 – Be picky with your flight search engines
The first step in finding a plane ticket is usually choosing which flight comparison website to use. Just remember that not all of them are reliable! Choose one which genuinely lets you see all your options and not one which only shows you flights on certain dates. I particularly recommend Skyscanner. They have a fantastic feature where you can jump straight to the cheapest time of year to fly to a particular airport, and you can even pair up return flights on the calendar and compare fares across the different dates. This website has saved me a lot of time in finding deals that I publish on the website – an essential tool for all bargain hunters!
Oh, and here’s another small piece of advice for you! Once you’ve found your flight on a flight comparison website, I would recommend going directly to the airline’s web page to compare the price there. Handling fees are often a lot cheaper if you buy your plane ticket directly from the airline itself.
Tip #4 – Buy your ticket at the right time
The best time of day to buy your plane ticket is between 4 am and 6 am on a Wednesday morning.
Again, it’s difficult to really figure this one out. Some swear by last-minute deals, whereas others advise buying well in advance. Statistics suggest that you should book short flights seven to eight weeks in advance, and long haul flights between five months and three weeks in advance. You should also note that budget airlines publish flights and prices six months before take-off at most so there’s no point in hurrying yourself too much! In terms of days of the week, lots of statistics have shown that it is better to buy plane tickets between Tuesday and Thursday rather than wait for the weekend. I’m sure your boss won’t mind if you take five minutes after your lunch break to book your ticket if you spot a good deal. ;)
Tip #5 – Watch out for cookies
No, it’s not a myth! Airline websites remember your IP address so they can charge you more and more over time as you keep coming back to their site. I have two solutions for this. The first is to use to browse the internet via a VPN when you compare the price of flights a few weeks before purchasing tickets. The second solution is to use your phone to quickly check if the plane tickets are still the same price, before buying tickets on your computer.
Tip #6 – Browse internal flights abroad
This is a tip that’s aimed towards those who are really looking to spend a long time travelling. Instead of comparing flights to a particular destination, you can also look at flights to the most popular airport in the country and then look at internal flights. Let me give you an example… You want to go to Thailand, to Koh Samui, for example. Instead of looking at the price of tickets for flights from London to Koh Samui, I would recommend searching for flights to Bangkok. Capitals generally have better and cheaper connections. Next, look at the price of internal flights in Thailand. Did you know that internal flights in Thailand cost around 30€ for a return? That should definitely help make your mind up. :)
Tip #7 – Flying long haul? Then stop over!
Flights with a stopover are 25% cheaper than direct flights.
Once again, this advice applies to long haul flights. Don’t be afraid of making stopovers! Not only are they a nice opportunity to stretch your legs out a little bit, but stopovers can also help you save money. If you go to Brazil, for example, I would recommend stopping over in Portugal so you don’t have to pay as much. If you fly to the US, changing flights in Reykjavik means you don’t have to break the bank.
Another advantage to stopovers is that you can discover two destinations for the price of one! In fact, you could arrange a stopover that lasts a day or even a few days so you can discover a new country. How can you refuse a day in Dubai, a weekend in Bangkok, or even a few hours in Lisbon?
Tip #8 – Choose budget airlines
Budget airlines have shot up in popularity in recent years as they have made travelling so much more accessible. We can only say thank you for flights to Paris for €30 even or return flights to Croatia for under €100! To take real advantage of these extremely cheap flights, you don’t need to make a big sacrifice. Besides, you don’t need a full meal on a 2-hour flight or 20kg hold lugggage for a city break in Europe when you’re only gone for a few nights. Just pack your cabin baggage well and you’ll be sorted!
Low-cost flights have been primarily centred around the European market, but recently it’s been possible to book budget long-haul flights. You’ll probably remember WOW Air announcing direct flights from Cork to Reykjavik, while Norwegian have really gone for it this year by launching cheap flights from several Irish airports to America. Return flights to the US for just over €200 return? You betcha!
Tip #9 – Look at open-jaw flights
If you intend to drive to the airport and leave your car there until you return, you don’t need to take any notice of this tip. For the rest of you, however, did you know that you can save money if you keep an open mind regarding your departure and arrival airport? These are called open-jaw flights amongst travel aficionados, and mean that the airport you return to is different to the one you departed from. For example, you can go London -New York – Manchester or Dublin – Reykjavik – Cork. This sometimes helps you find exceptionally priced tickets for the small cost of a train ticket, and can be particularly handy if you’re looking to go on long tours to several destinations at a time.
Tip #10 – Consider loyalty schemes
If you often use the same airline or you often take the same journey, you should definitely take a look at the different loyalty schemes offered by airlines. By accumulating air miles, you can take advantage of upgrades, reductions, and even free flights. It’s best to sign up with an airline which is part of a group so you can add miles from different airlines. For example, Air France is part of the SkyTeam Alliance which includes KLM, Delta, and Lufthansa to name a few, while Oneworld includes airlines such as British Airways, Iberia and Qantas.
Bonus tip #11 – check out Holidayguru.ie!
Sorry, but I just had to! You know that it’s my mantra to find cheap holidays and flights from Ireland, so if you’re a bit short on time to really do all the research, then you can always browse my offers. I publish plenty of them every day, so there’s bound to be something for you here! :)
And what about you? Do you have any tips to add to the list or a method to find cheap flights that works for you? Then let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
If you like what you've seen on this page so far, why not check out our shiny new podcast. Holidayguru's Gurucast is our newest way to inspire and interact with you beautiful people. Here you can learn about new and exciting places, pick up some great tips on how to save on your travels and also listen to interviews with some of the world's most influential personalities. Happy listening! :)