It’s no secret that flying has become increasingly expensive over the years, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank every time you need to travel. There are plenty of ways to find cheap flights and get the best deal on airfare.

It isn’t hard, it just takes a bit of research and some flexibility. 

While we can’t guarantee that you’ll always find cheap flights, here are some tips for finding cheap flights, to help you keep costs down and allow you to travel more often.

Take a look at these tips for finding cheap flights and keep them in mind the next time you book a trip! 

Tips to Find Cheap Flights

Even if you don’t find the absolute rock-bottom price, you may be surprised at how much money you can save by following these simple tips for finding cheap flights.

1. Use a Flight Search Engine

There are a number of flight search engines that can help you find the best deal on airfare. A few popular ones include:

  • Google Flights
  • Skyscanner
  • Expedia
  • Momondo
  • Kayak
  • Hopper

These search engines work by scanning a variety of different travel sites and airlines to find the best price on airfare. They can be a great way to compare prices and find the cheapest flights.

Each of these search engines has their pros and cons. I personally prefer to use Google Flights but I know others prefer to use Skyscanner. Honestly, they are both great, use whichever one works for you.

I like Google Flights for a few reasons, but mainly for ease of use, the maps which are helpful if you don’t have a specific destination in mind, and price alerts.

Regardless of which flight search engine you choose, they can all be helpful in finding cheap flights. Basically, they all search the major airlines and find you the best deal for the destinations and dates that you are searching for.

Many of the search engines, like Google Flights and Skyscanner, allow the option to have a flexible destination. Then they show you on a map the different prices for different destinations, and you can choose the best fare for you.

If you’re looking to go to Europe, simply enter Europe in the destination box, the search engine will show you a map with different destinations within Europe and then you can easily take cheap flights or trains within Europe to get to your final destination.

map of Europe with different airfares displayed on google flights
See fares for different destinations with Google Flights

While we recommend using a flight search engine as one of the ways to find cheap flights, especially with the events over the past few years, we recommend booking directly with the airline. If there are cancellations or changes, quite often you can’t get reimbursed (or it’s a huge hassle to do it – speaking from experience) unless you’ve booked directly with the airline itself.

What we DO recommend, is to use a flight search engine to find a cheap fare, then book directly with the airline itself.

2. Be Flexible with Your Dates and Times

This is probably the most important tip for finding cheap flights. When you’re searching for flights, be sure to check a variety of dates before you book. You may find that changing your travel days by a day or two could result in significant savings.

Quick often if you’re travelling on school holidays or in the summer, prices will be much higher, whereas you’re flexible to leave a day or week or two earlier or later, you can often find much better deals.

Another great feature of Google Flights (and Skyscanner), is that they have a date grid with available prices.

Say you’re looking for a flight from October 1 to 15. If you put those dates in to Google Flights or Skyscanner and then click on the date grid, you can see the combinations for prices on different departure and arrival days, which allows you to choose the cheapest fare. So if you’re flexible with your dates, the grid will show you the best combination of dates for the best price available.

grid on google flights to display fares for different departure and return dates so you can find the cheapest flight
Use the date grid to see different fares

Also, consider flying during off-peak hours. Flights that depart early in the morning or late at night are sometimes cheaper than flights that depart during the day.

Of course, this isn’t always possible. If you have to travel on specific dates, you might not be able to take advantage of this tip. But if you have some flexibility in your travel plans, it’s worth considering.

3. Set Fare Alerts

Many of the search engines, like Google Flights and Skyscanner, will let you set price alerts for a specific route. This can be helpful if you’re not ready to book yet but want to keep an eye on prices. When the price drops, you’ll get an email notification so you can jump on it and book.

I find Google will also email you, sometimes a few days ahead of time, to let you know that based on trends or history, they expect your fare to rise in the next few days or hours so you can book before the fair increases in price.

Now this might like a bit of a gimmick, but I’ve set numerous alerts over the years, and Google Flights is fairly accurate – they don’t just alert you every time, or to force you to book a ticket. 

4. Sign Up for Travel Deals

You can also use subscription services to alert you on cheap flights. In the United States, Scott’s Cheap Flights is a popular one which send emails on the best upcoming flight deals from the U.S. There’s a free and paid option; I personally haven’t used them as we are in Canada, but many people swear by the deals they find on there!

In Canada, YYZ Deals (also available for any major airport in Canada) is a good way to find cheap flight deals. I personally have used YYZ deals for years and always find them to be accurate (and often the deals sell out quickly).

Travelzoo is another travel deal subscription (and it’s free!) and it also works in both Canada and the U.S. While it’s not specifically for fare alerts and cheap flights, there are some good deals to be found on Travelzoo.

The downside of these subscription services is that the deals aren’t necessarily to the location or area you are interested in, but if you’re open to new destinations or just looking to get away, somewhere – anywhere!, they are a great way to find some great cheap flight and vacation deals.

You can always take advantage of these cheap fares and explore somewhere new, or use that flight as a connection to go somewhere you are dreaming of visiting.

There are often cheap fares from Toronto or Vancouver, or in the U.S., JFK or Miami, for many international routes.

Once, I found a deal from Toronto to Dubai for $500 (and if you’re Canadian, you’ll see how this is a great deal!) and a few weeks ago there was a deal from Halifax to Vancouver (which is one coast to the other) for $218!

5. Use an Incognito Window

When you’re searching for flights, it’s best to do so in an incognito browsing window.

Many of the flight search engines say they don’t track your searches but they do see your history (that’s how they show related searches or inspiration ideas). After you’ve been searching for a flight a few times, you’ll find that the next time, you might find the price is a bit higher than it was previously.

This may just be a myth; prices may rise from other factors, but opening an incognito window is quick and easy, so why not try it, just in case it’s true.  

6. Don’t Always Fly Direct

If you do have a specific destination in mind, sometimes it’s actually cheaper to fly somewhere else first and make a connection or book a separate second flight.

For example, as we live on the east coast of Canada, it’s often cheaper to find a cheap flight from Toronto, and then we just book a flight on a budget airline like Lynx Air to get to Toronto.

Or if you’re flying to Europe, it’s often cheaper to fly to London, then take a budget airline to your European destination.

We just found cheap flights to Europe this way – we are flying from Canada to London for $976 return, and then from London on to our European destination for $30!! Which turns out to be much cheaper than booking a direct flight, which would have been $1605 and had two stops, versus the one stop in London when booking the separate flights.

7. Book in Advance

While it’s not a set fact, usually a good rule of thumb is that the earlier you book your flight, the cheaper it will be. Airlines release their seat inventory a few months in advance and as time goes on, and seats start to fill up, they raise prices.

Many people suggest booking anywhere from 2-4 months in advance, and no later than 4-6 weeks before your flight.

While we know this isn’t always possible, chances are you’ll get a cheaper fare this way. As the departure date gets closer, prices will start to rise.

And the days of finding standby fares are long gone. There may be some exceptions and some deals to be found, but for the most part, booking last minute flights and stand by flights at the airport end up being much more expensive. 

8. Book Through the Week

There was a myth years ago that said Tuesday was the best day to book a flight. And while that may have been true, it’s not exactly the case anymore. There is no best day to book flights.

Although prices do tend rise on the weekends and be a bit cheaper throughout the week, it’s not a proven fact, but it does tend to be true in my experience.

Saying that, flight prices are constantly changing and airlines add new fares all the time. Prices can even change within a few minutes, so if you see a good deal – book it!

9. Fly a Budget Airline

Budget airlines are just that – budget deals. Which is what you want, right?

Budget airlines still provide you a flight to wherever you are going, it’s just comforts and amenities that are limited.

You won’t get the luxury of first class or extended leg room, or even screens on the seat backs and you might have to pay for luggage, food and drinks, but that’s a small price to pay for a cheap fare.

Here’s a list of the biggest budget airlines in Europe and North and South America. 

list of budget airlines in Canada, the U.S., Europe and South America that often have cheap flights

10. Consider Extra Fees

While some fares may look cheap at first glance, many airlines charge extra fees for things such as luggage, seat selection or cancellation and modification options, especially the low cost airlines.

If you’re travelling with carry-on only, this may not make a difference – although many low cost airlines even charge for carry-on now.

So when you find that cheap fare, take a look at how many bags are included in the fare and then add the extra baggage charges to your flight to get an accurate comparison.

Other Ways to Reduce Fares: Frequent Flyer Miles and Airline Points

While I don’t do any travel credit card hacking and earn points, I know many people who do and they end up not having to pay much for their trip.

If you are diligent about paying off your credit card balance every month, and don’t mind signing up for a few different cards to get the points or miles, this could be a great way to reduce the cost of your flight or even fly for free (only paying the taxes).

Frequent flier points, or airline rewards programs are another way to get cheaper fares and sometimes even free flights. If you fly often with the same airline or airlines within the same alliance, it can be beneficial to sign up for their loyalty program and start earning miles. You can then use those points to book a flight, usually at a reduced rate or sometimes even free!

There are also reward programs that don’t involve flying, like the Air Miles Reward Program, where you can earn air miles for basic, everyday household purchases or even when you fill up your car with gas. These points add up and help with the cost of your travels, as they can be used to earn free flights, free hotel stays or other travel incentives, such as car rentals. 

Final Thoughts on How to Find Cheap Flights

With these tips in mind, I hope you’ll be able to find cheap flights for your next trip. Some of them may be more applicable than others, depending on your travel habits and where you’re flying to and from.

Just remember to be flexible with your travel dates and times, compare prices across multiple sites, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to booking your flights.

Do you have any tips on how to find cheap flights that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy travels!

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