8 expert tips for booking cheap flights that you really should know about
Finding the best flight deals is no longer about simply shopping around - although we always recommend you compare prices on Skyscanner before you book. Get the full facts about how to find the best deal from industry experts and travel bloggers and learn a few new travel hacks to make sure you get a flight at a price that fits your budget.
Booking early isn’t everything
So a budget airline has announced a fantastic new route with ridiculously low flight prices. But how do you actually nab those bargain basement tickets? Surprisingly, getting cheap flights isn’t necessarily about getting in there early. Regularly checking prices is more important - Skyscanner's price alert emails can help you keep track of price fluctuations. “Airlines can and do release discounted tickets at any time before a flight,” points out Zach Honig, chief executive of award-winning site The Points Guy. So when it comes to regular (non-sale) fares, you might be best off booking two weeks or three months before departure, depending on your destination. It's also worth remembering that airfare sales typically only apply to flights within the next few weeks or months, though occasionally some will run through to the end of the airline’s schedule, which can be up to 11 months in the future." Find out exactly when the best time to book your flight is with our full report.
Don’t just turn up at the airport
Just because a flight has empty seats doesn’t mean the airline will be desperate to fill them by selling fares at rock bottom prices. So, if you’re planning on a last minute getaway, don’t even think about turning up at the airport ticket-less, expecting a seat for next to nothing. “There’s always a chance you might find a last-minute discount, but if you need to visit a specific city and your schedule isn’t flexible, be sure to book in advance,” advises Zach Honig.
Don't worry about cookies with Skyscanner
It’s a common belief that making repeated searches for certain flights pushes up the price. But is there any truth in this? Not with Skyscanner: we only show prices passed on to us by travel agents or airlines, therefore it isn’t possible for the Skyscanner cookie to influence these prices. For more on cookies and increase in flight prices read on.
Instead, try and be flexible. You’re more likely to find cheap flights by flying at unsociable times. “You’ll often find cheaper fares on flights scheduled for lighter periods, such as early morning, red-eye flights or flights departing on a Saturday afternoon or evening,” points out Zach. Search for flights across on entire month with Skyscanner, or let us show you the cheapest month, if you're really not bothered about when you fly.
Choose to fly when business travellers aren't for cheap upgrades
The days of the free upgrade are long gone, but if you fancy splashing out, bear in mind that while ticket prices for economy seats often rocket during holidays and weekends, the reverse can be said for premium seats, according to Zach Honig. “Expect to find cheap business class fares during light business travel periods, such as during the summer or Christmas," he says. But you can always still try your luck at bagging that free upgrade - you might just get lucky if you follow our tried and tested suggestions.
Make friends with your airline
Nobody likes spam but consider signing up for airline newsletters – you’ll be the first to hear about sales. You'll also find out exactly when tickets for new routes go on sale, allowing you to nab the bargains before anyone else. Airlines are also increasingly keen on improving their social media presence, so by signing up to their Facebook group or subscribing to their Twitter feed, you’ll often be the first to hear about great deals. Alternatively, sign up to Skyscanner's weekly email and we'll let you know about new routes, cheap flight offers and any new or exciting destinations that should be on your holiday hitlist.
Embrace the single life
It often pays to compare the price of two single tickets rather than automatically going to book that return flight - singles can sometimes work out cheaper! Always check the price for both types of fare, and remember that booking your flight this way gives you the flexibilty to depart or arrive at different airports.
Consider flying from a nearby airport
You may live just a few miles from a major airport but consider which other departure points are within easy access. You’ll be surprised by how much you can save by opting for flights departing from smaller, nearby airports, whether you're jetting off for a long weekend in France or backpacking around Australia. “I might consider searching for flights departing from Philadelphia instead of New York, or Oakland instead of San Francisco,” says Zach. Skyscanner allows you to include flights from nearby airports when you're searching - look out for the 'Add nearby airports' check box beneath where you enter your departure airport.
Read on for more fantastic ways to save money on your next holiday:
In the era of budget airlines, are last minute flight deals dead? Not if you know how, when, and where to look... Here's some tried and tested tips on how to bag a last minute flight bargain.
Want to find the very best flight prices? If you’re flexible on when you fly, use Skyscanner’s 'whole month' search tool to find the cheapest day to travel to your chosen destination. Read on to find out how to browse and bag the best flight for you.
Our handy flight price tracker will keep an eye on your chosen flight and let you know as soon as the price drops - or if it starts to climb. Skyscanner Price Alerts are free, and you'll be sent an email informing you of any price changes as soon as they happen so you won't miss out on a cheap deal.