Answer me honestly; how many times have you psyched yourself up to book that dream holiday only to have the plane ticket price slap you right in the face and settle you firmly back on Earth? Yeah, we’ve all been there. It can get really frustrating when everything else (think annual leave, time of year and excitement) aligns except the price of your air fare. Instead of jetting off to some fabulous foreign land, we’re forced to re-evaluate our options as we struggle to justify sky high prices.
Sometimes, the mark up in ticket prices is unavoidable (like during the summer months or holiday seasons) as airlines know they can squeeze each customer for a little bit more as we conventionally try to make the most of the hot weather or try and get away as a family. This practice does leave a lot to be desired, but I like to think that once you know how the game is played, you’re better equipped to beat it.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of my favourite flight booking sites along with a few hints and tricks for finding yourself a sneaky deal or lower than advertised ticket price. Putting even one or two of these into practice should help you bag that dream vay-kay and leave you with some coins to spare.
Google Flights is the absolute must for any budding travelnista or travel novice. It has a ton of features rarely seen collectively on other flight booking sites. My favourite is it will let you search for flights without entering a destination, which brings me to my first tip for getting cheap flights – stay flexible. If you begin your search for your next holiday destination with an open mind on where to actually go, you will be able to source the cheapest flights for that time range and have a much better understanding of the impact on you wallet when flying to certain destinations in certain seasons.
Not only that, you can also see prices by day which is fantastic as going a day later could save you tens if not hundreds on your ticket price. As a bonus, Google Flights will also give you a few suggestions of what to do once you get there so some of the research is even done for you – what more do you need to get looking?
Pro tip* – Set price alerts and you will receive emails/notifications when prices drop.
Sky Scanner is another favourite booking site of mine. As with Google Flights you can search for flights without entering a destination and it also includes the day by day pricing which could save you bundles. Sky Scanner also remembers your previous searches so every time you visit the site you don’t have to search from scratch. Now, at first this might seem like a helpful feature, but beware. Once you accept those cookies when first visiting a site, they’re used to keep track of dates and destinations you’ve enquired about. However, these details are sometimes used together with website algorithms to change the ticket price you’re offered.
For example, if you’re constantly checking the ticket price for a trip that is less than three weeks away, this could be viewed as a trip that has to be booked and you may notice your ticket prices steadily rising as the days press on but your search time frame remains the same. This can sometimes work in reverse and airlines do also apply discounts for the same reason to try and get you to make that booking, but there is no way to tell.
To stay on the safe side, I recommend doing all your ticket searches in an incognito window or at the very least, master regularly clearing your cookies. That way you can be sure the prices you’re shown are untarnished.
Kayak searches hundreds of websites to show you deals matching your search criteria. This is great as you can compare the price points of lesser known airlines you may otherwise not have considered.
Another top tip to incorporate into your flight booking ritual is to know when to go. I touched on this earlier, but it really does pay to consider visiting those bucket list places during the ‘off/low’ season as when there is a natural slump in the amount of travel being booked, airlines are pretty much guaranteed to drop their prices in an effort to entice you into filling seats.
I will give you one caveat in that you should put some research into what is implied by the ‘off/low’ season of your preferred destination. If your dream is to see a certain natural phenomenon in a particular place, then it won’t make sense to visit your destination when this isn’t occurring just to save some money on the ticket – your choices have to make the most sense for you.
Expedia is another great flight booking site that you should add to your list. As well as flight searches, you can check hotel availability, book train tickets, hire cars at your arrival destination and even check out the helpful ‘things to do’ tab all in one neat website. This site also offers daily deals with discounts and promotions as well as their own reward points that can quickly add up for the frequent flyer.
Another pro tip for booking flights is to keep an eye on what rewards you rack up in your every day life that can be transferred into air miles. Many of us have credit cards that offer air miles as rewards for spending over a certain amount that we qualify for unknowingly and as a result, don’t take advantage of, losing ourselves money in the process.
Because of that it’s always worth taking time to check on what areas within our regular spending earn us air miles or money off flight/hotel bookings (or any discount for that matter). You never know, your staff benefits could even include a booking discount for a certain airline you always use but you’ve never made use of it. Don’t screw yourself out of money by not knowing your day to day rewards!
So there you have it; my top websites, tips and tricks for booking your future flights. I’ll keep you updated as I go along on my own travel journey so hit that follow button to stay in the know.