If you do an online search for “best flights”, “flights to”, “cheap flights”, “airline deals”, or something similar, you will be inundated with dozens and dozens of websites that will advertise their cheapest flights. Once you get on the site you will realize there are a very limited selection of flights that are actually that cheap.
Story time! Our best flight finding tip came from getting stuck flying standby from Asia to the US. We were returning from a mission trip. There had been a typhoon that disrupted hundreds of flights and thousands of people. This led to no empty seats on any flights. The airlines began to get people out of Asia to anywhere they could in the US. This led to a majority of those stranded being dropped off in Honolulu with no prospective flights to the mainland. Bit by bit, a group of 30 found themselves stuck together in the airport. Some of us had been shuffled from one airport to another, many had been stuck for a week or more. One of these stranded airport campers told us they had broken down and purchased a flight to the mainland using the “On the Fly” App.
While the mobile app that saved us from further airport camping no longer exists, the main software that was the heart of the app still does. It should come as no surprise that the king of search engines, Google, is one of the best when it comes to searching for flights. Enter Google Flights. It offers a multitude of tools and customizations for finding flights. Below is a walkthrough of the most basic of searches from a smartphone. http://www.google.com/flights
Tips for Finding the Best Flights
- Start searching as early as possible. Don’t purchase right away.
- Flexibility= More Options and More Options usually equals cheaper or better.
- Cheaper does not always mean best. The best for you, may not always mean the cheapest.
- Often better flights (not basic economy, or better layovers, less connections, preferred airline, etc.) are only slightly more expensive than the cheapest of fares.
- Prioritize what is most important to you when searching through all of the details.
- Use filters to narrow results to what fits your needs.
- Subscribe to price alerts and watch the prices over time to make sure you are getting a good deal. This requires patience.
- Open your options to other airports, sometimes driving a bit farther will make it worth your while in over all price. Sometimes it doesn’t.
- Read the fine print before you book!
- Booking directly with the airline is usually best.
- Sign up for the free version of loyalty points, even if you don’t use that company very often.
- Flying very budget friendly may mean long layovers or less comfortable seating or no overhead bin access.
It all comes down to how you like to travel and what is most important to you. If this process is too involved, but you are afraid of missing out on a good deal, try one of the sights that agrees to reimburse you if the price drops.
For me, the less money I spend on getting there, the more room in my budget I have for being there.