Expert Secrets For Cheap Flight Deals

Every year, we aim to travel more while staying within our budget, diligently tracking expenses on our Excel sheets. Fortunately, these goals can go hand in hand.

For the past seven years, a travel expert has honed skills in finding the cheapest flights, transforming expertise into a highly successful email list. This list, with over 300,000 subscribers, delivers the week’s best flight deals. Picture round-trip fares from San Francisco to New Zealand for a mere $285 or flights from New York to New Delhi for just $212. While the weekly emails are free, avid travelers can opt for a premium subscription for more frequent and exclusive offers.

Unlike many of us who dread the process of booking flights, the expert finds joy in it. “I enjoy dedicating six to 10 hours daily to hunting for affordable flights,” they admit. With such dedication, who better to turn to for advice on booking your next budget-friendly adventure?

1. Choose Your Flight First

Ivan Wainwright of RDW Kenteken says, most of us organize vacations like this: First, select the destination, throw out a few dates, and then scour countless browser tabs for the best flight. However, this often leads to high prices.

The secret? Flip your process around. Start by searching for cheap flights and then plan your trip around whichever destinations have the most appealing fares. From there, you can choose a city that resonates with you and ensure the fares align with your schedule.

As for favorite flight-finding tools? “Google Flights and Momondo,” are highly recommended.

2. There’s More than One Way to Get to Your Dream Destination

We’ve all indulged in those coffee break daydreams of spending Christmas in Paris, though flying into the City of Light on a whim isn’t typically budget-friendly. However, Europe boasts numerous low-cost airlines. Consider booking a flight to a nearby city or even a less expensive country instead. For Paris, this might entail flying into Marseille or Frankfurt, depending on the available discounts. “Be open to taking a budget flight to capitalize on a great deal,” advises the expert.

You can apply the same strategy to your departure city. Major hubs like NYC and L.A. often enjoy the lion’s share of flight sales. Yet, a $20 bus ride from, say, Washington, D.C., to fly out of JFK could translate into substantial savings worth hundreds of dollars.

3. On Taking Advantage of the Fat-Finger Discount

Dan Eastman of Ship Tracking says, occasionally, enticing deals known as mistake fares are sent out, such as airfare from New York to the Philippines for a mere $174. These fares are typically the result of errors made by airlines when entering prices or from miscommunication between partner carriers. While these deals are fantastic, they are fleeting unicorns of airline sales.

“It’s rare that they last more than 12 hours, and often last as little as 60 or 90 minutes,” warns the expert. There’s no specific pattern as to when these mistake fares occur, so subscribing to flight alerts can help you secure these fares before airlines correct their errors.

  1. Early Birds Get to Fly

Sean Philips of FlightRadar Online says, regrettably, securing discounts on last-minute getaways proves challenging. “For domestic flights, I recommend booking one to three months in advance, and for international flights, two to six months ahead,” advises the expert. Prices tend to surge closer to the travel date or miss out on future sales if booked too far in advance.

Dispelling common myths: Contrary to popular belief, turning on private browsing or clearing cookies doesn’t affect prices. Similarly, waiting until 2 p.m. on Tuesday to book is not a strategy for securing better deals. It’s best to live and learn from these misconceptions.

5. It All Comes Down to Flexibility

Andrew Adams of Vluchten Volgen says, International travel can be surprisingly affordable, provided you maintain flexibility in your plans.

“If you’ve already chosen your destination and dates without flexibility, you’ve likely eliminated 95 percent of opportunities to reduce airfare costs,” advises the expert.

Currently, Spain stands out as a favored destination, offering “plenty of cheap flights” and providing incredible experiences, whether in Seville or San Sebastián.

If you’re set on a particular destination, consider adjusting your travel dates. For a weekend escape, explore flights departing on Thursday and returning on Sunday, or departing on Saturday and returning on Tuesday. Simply shifting your dates can sometimes cut flight costs in half. Additionally, don’t shy away from long layovers. Opting for a route with a lengthy layover, such as a 22-hour stopover in Tokyo on a flight from New York to Hanoi, can significantly reduce airfare costs and add an exciting addition to your itinerary.