Are you sick and tired of paying $1000s of dollars for international flights? Well, we were too. How do you go about finding cheap flights and mistake fares like $250 roundtrip to Bali? We travel all the time and get asked this question daily, so we decided to write them down for you.
Just follow these tips to find the absolute cheapest flights. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how and where to look.
1. Finding Cheap Flights – How much should airfare actually cost?
Here are really great prices from the US to all over the world. If you end up finding cheap flights in these ranges, you should book fast. These are what we look for when we book our adventures:
- Europe: $300s-$500s round trip
- East and Southeast Asia: $300s-$500s round trip
- South America: $400s-$600s round trip
- Africa: $500s-$700s round trip
- Australia: $700s-$800s round trip
- Caribbean: $200s-$300s round trip
- Hawaii: $200s-$400s round trip
2. Be flexible with airports:
Check out ALL airports close to where you live, as well as to your destination if you want to end up finding cheap flights.
Remember, budget airlines in Europe and Asia are extremely cheap. You can fly roundtrip from most cities for less than $90 USD within those regions.
That being said, if you’re looking to get to London from Chicago for example but the fare is $1,200 roundtrip, check to see what the price is from Chicago to Brussels or Paris. That fare might be $400 round trip and then you can add on a cheap roundtrip flight from Brussels or Paris to London on budget airlines like Ryanair for $40 USD. If you do that, you’ve saved $500+ on the trip easily. Finding cheap flights is more of an art than science in some cases.
Jesse originally started Dollar Flight Club to let his friends and family know when he found a super cheap flights, like the time he flew from New York City to Stockholm for $290 roundtrip. Since then, Dollar Flight Club has has sent hundreds of thousands of people to awesome destinations.
Jesse used to live in San Diego and was planning a trip to London. The fare was $1,100 USD from San Diego International Airport, but he found one for $380 roundtrip from Los Angeles. So he hopped on the Amtrak train for $30 USD up to Los Angeles to catch the flight and only paid $410 for the whole trip, rather than $1100 USD. This can be replicated all over the world.
3. Be flexible with travel dates:
The easiest way to finding cheap flights is to be flexible with your travel dates.
This can be tough if you have limited time off from work. However, try to plan far in advance. Sometimes you can save $300-$500 if you leave on a Thursday as opposed to a Friday for example. Rather than picking your dates first, try and see when it’s cheapest to travel. Use the tools discussed below to help with that.
4. Actually Searching and Booking:
We recommend visiting 3 websites when you’re looking to finding cheap flights. These are our favorites and always bring back the cheapest fares. They also allow you to put into play the tips listed above. Try to go through the sites in numerical order.
- Always start with Google Flights. It’s the best search engine in the business for a few reasons. Mainly, it allows you to nicely browse the calendar view.
- Pull up their handy calendar tool to find the best travel dates for your route, by locating the dates with the lowest fares. Make sure you browse the calendar view up to 9 months ahead so you know the cheapest time frame to travel and then narrow down on the dates you want.
- Keep a tab on the price you found.
- Move to the next section.
- Head over to Momondo, re-enter your itinerary that you found in Google Flights and hit search. You can also double check them on Priceline to confirm you have the cheapest deal.
- Momondo almost always brings back the absolute cheapest fares, even cheaper than in Google Flights 95% of the time.
- Keep a tab on the price you found.
- Move to the next section.
- Lastly, head to Skiplagged and enter in those dates to be sure you have the absolute cheapest fare.
- Once you’ve gone through these steps and you’ve found a fare within the price ranges we outlined above, go ahead and book!
- Skiplagged is so good they actually got sued by United Airlines a few years ago for saving people too much money on airfare by finding a loophole in the booking system. However, they won the lawsuit and are up and running.
5. When should I book my flight?
When you see a great fare 2-3 months in advance for domestic flights and 3-8 months in advance for international flights you should book them. Booking last minute almost always never works out. In our opinion, never wait until the last minute unless you have to.
Cheap fares don’t last long! When you find a deal like $310 roundtrip from New York to Paris, you should book it right away. They won’t last longer than 24 hours and sometimes can go away within just a few minutes.
Overall, Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive days. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are the absolute cheapest days to travel.
Our Friends at Money Crashers wrote a good article on their site that includes some additional information on the best times to book flights. You can find the info here: How to Find Cheap Flights and Get the Best Airline Ticket Deals.
6. Mistake Fares: How to find them and should you book them?
Mistake fares are simply when airlines mistakenly publish incorrect ticket prices. This can happen for a few reasons. One of them may be that a $1308 round trip from NYC to Cape Town was actually priced at $130 round trip.
These are tough to find and only pop up once in awhile. The team at Dollar Flight Club searches Google Flights and Momondo all day long to find these crazy fares like $174 roundtrip from Houston to Melbourne last month.
You should always book the flight! However, make sure you don’t book other travel plans like hotels and tourist activities until the airline confirms your ticket. More recently, airlines don’t have to honor mistake fares like they were required to in the past.
7. A Few More Tricks:
- Have VPN access? Try use your VPN to access the flight comparison sites and set your location to a poorer country with a different currency (not USD, GBP, AUD, etc.) as the flight tickets may be lower that way.
- Try clear cookies after each search or search in “incognito mode” which may bring back a slightly cheaper ticket.