Most travellers, if they’re anything like me, are always looking for deals. Saving money now means more travel later, and really who wants to pay more than they need to? Recently I’ve been deal hunting for cheap flights from Manila in The Philippines to Frankfurt, Germany and it’s been tough. The best I’ve found for a one-way is $700 but there’s a catch… an 8.5 hour stop over in Ho Chi Minh City. Eight and a half hours… what am I gonna do for that long in an AIRPORT?! Yes there is always the possibility of exploring the city for the day, but in a country where English isn’t widely spoken and, from what Google Maps shows, looks extremely difficult to navigate, it seems like a headache more than an experience.
However, I started looking for cheap flights out of Manila. Period. Just what is a cheap way to exit the country? I stumbled upon some ~$100 flights to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and to humour myself looked at flights from there to Frankfurt. Low and behold – ~$400 with only a 2h stop over! These flight prices are also available a few days throughout the week, allowing for some leeway in departure times… and a day or two in Malaysia! In just browsing for a few minutes on TripAdvisor, I’m already excited about this!
Anyways, over the years I’ve found out a few things about finding cheap flight deals. So here are the tips and tricks I use in order to snag a cheap deal when heading from A to B.
If You Can, Book Ahead
If looking for a domestic route, book approximately 2 months in advance. For international, anywhere between 2 to 5 months in advance. Seat price is dependent on seat demand, and by booking too early the airline doesn’t have enough data so they choose a conservative seat price… for them!
Don’t Depend on Last Minute Deals
Yes, sometimes you can get cheap last minute flights, but don’t hold your breath. These only happen if an airline needs to sell seats in order for a flight to be profitable. If you’re looking to just get away and not a particular destination, then I’d say be all over this – cheap adventure is always fun!
If You Don’t Mind a Stopover, Take It
This can dramatically lower prices if you can deal with a stop in between you and your final destination. Or sometimes booking a flight with a stop over that IS your final stop can save you some dollars too! Check out SkipLagged before booking through Kayak, Expedia, or whoever else you use to ensure you’ve got the best price!
Try To Fly Mid-Week
The cheapest flight days are Tuesday-Thursdays and Saturdays. If you can manage both your flights on these days then you’re golden. Might be worth using a few vacation days to do an extra long weekend for the cheap flight price!
Avoid Big Name Airlines When You Can
Finding smaller airlines can definitely help lower the price, which is key when flying in North America since flying is already quite expensive. Unfortunately we really only have NewLeaf in Canada, but for the US there’s airlines like Spirit or Allegiant that have some pretty sweet deals. I’ve never flown with either personally but I’ve heard good reviews! The only thing to keep in mind is transit fees for getting to/from the airport, but if you have friends/family/uncles-twice-removed that can pick you up then you’re set!
When flying in Europe, EasyJet is my airline of choice as they have great customer service and an easy to navigate website which shows you everything you need to know right up front. If you can’t fly with them, there’s always RyanAir in a pinch. For these guys however, beware of baggage fees. ESPECIALLY RyanAir! They like to make it extremely confusing and add extra fees for no reason! Just be sure to read everything over twice, and if something seems off, just close the window and start over. I’ve almost had to pay an extra 50 Euro with them because there was a glitch and it tacked on an extra baggage fee!
Take Advantage of Promotions & Deal Days
Look at airline websites for deals. Often airlines will have deal days (I think for WestJet its Tuesdays? Don’t quote me though!) where they offer cheap seats or they’ll have promotions for a certain length of time. Sometimes it is good to get those annoying emails in your inbox since they could lead to a good find!
What tactics do you use when deal hunting for flights? Have any other words of wisdom for the frugal traveller? I’d love to hear how others hunt for bargains so comment below!