How to get cheap flights: 10 tips

Dre Roelandt

written by
Dre Roelandt

updated 16.01.2024

Unlocking the secret to affordable travel begins with securing budget-friendly flights, a key component in making your dream destinations a reality. In this guide, we delve into the art of how to get cheap flights, offering you strategic insights and practical tips to navigate the vast world of air travel economically. Whether you're a seasoned traveller or a novice adventurer, our comprehensive tips will empower you to embark on your journeys without breaking the bank. 


10 quick tips on how to get cheap flights

Here are some quick tips on how to find the cheapest flights:

  1. Be flexible with your travel dates and use the 'calendar view' features on booking sites. 
  2. Consider budget airlines. They will offer lower base fees (but beware of additional fees and baggage policies).
  3. Redeem miles and points. Credit cards and frequent flyer miles can often be forgotten but can really lower the price of your trip.
  4. Avoid myths surrounding cheap flights such as the "Tuesday at 1 pm" booking myth. Getting a good deal on flights can all come down to timing.
  5. Set price alert notifications. This is a key strategy to monitor roundtrip and one-way ticket prices from various airlines.
  6. Consider nearby airports. Many cities have multiple airports and will greatly vary in price.
  7. Clear your browser's cookies or search in incognito mode. This can help you avoid artificial price hikes during your search for airfare.
  8. Check multi-city routes. Sometimes booking separate one-way flights can be cheaper than a round-trip ticket.
  9. Compare airlines and booking platforms. You’ll want to use multiple search engines and airline websites to compare prices.
  10. Book in advance. Generally, you’re more likely to land a deal when there is more time before your trip.
Wilson Promontory, Melbourne, Australia © Shutterstock

Wilson Promontory, Melbourne, Australia © Shutterstock

How far in advance to book flights?

How far in advance you want to book your flights will vary depending on your trip. In general, booking as far in advance as you can, is the best way to approach finding a deal. 

Domestic flights

For domestic travel, aim to book your flight 1 to 3 months in advance. During peak seasons or holidays, consider booking even earlier. Keep an eye on price trends, as certain days may offer significantly lower fares. Make sure to explore alternative routes; sometimes, flights with layovers can be more economical.

International flights

For international travel, book about 5 to 6 months ahead for optimal pricing. However, this varies by destination and travel date. Popular holiday spots may require even earlier booking. You’ll want to utilize positioning flights—flying to budget-friendly destinations before reaching your main stop—to save on international journeys.

Avoid the peak travel times

Steer clear of peak travel times like holidays and weekends, as they often come with higher prices due to increased demand. Major events can also lead to raised prices. Opting for off-peak times, such as shoulder seasons (May-June and August-September), can result in more affordable flights. Flexibility in travel dates is key to finding lower airfares.

What is the best day to find affordable flights?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no specific "best" day to find affordable flights. Airlines adjust their prices continuously based on several factors such as demand, time of booking, and day of the flight. However, many travel experts suggest that Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon might be a wise time to utilize your booking engine, like Kayak.

Fly to the cheapest cities at your destination

Choosing to fly to alternative, less-known airports can often result in significant savings. This strategy is particularly effective when travelling to countries with multiple airports. Always compare the price of flying directly to your final destination against the price of flying into a nearby city and then travelling overland. For example:

Choosing to fly to less popular cities helps you dodge the higher fees that airlines charge for popular routes.

Titus Arch and the Roman Colosseum in Rome, Italy as seen from the Palatine Hill © Shutterstock

Titus Arch and the Roman Colosseum in Rome © Shutterstock

How to get discounts on flights?

There are a couple of good tips for finding discounts on flights.

Search for hidden city fares

Hidden city fares are an unconventional way to potentially save on your airfare. This involves booking a flight with a connection in your destination city and skipping the onward leg. Do be aware that this method comes with some risks, including penalties from airlines and potential baggage issues.

Check for flight promotions and discounts

To always stay in the loop about promotions and discounts, be proactive and:

  • Subscribe to newsletters: Most airlines and booking platforms have newsletters that they use to alert subscribers about flash sales, discounts, or promotional offers. 
  • Sign up for deal alerts: Services like Jack's Flight Club or Secret Flying notify subscribers about the cheapest flights available. Plus, subscribing to student-centric newsletters can get you updates on valuable travel deals.
  • Follow airlines on social media: Airlines often post exclusive offers on their social media channels. Therefore, follow them across multiple platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay informed.

Research airline rewards programs

Airline rewards programs are the #1 way frequent travellers earn free flights, travel perks, and even complimentary hotel stays. Check programs like Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Delta SkyMiles, and JetBlue TrueBlue. Some websites, such as, exists to help you optimize your points across loyalty and airline programs

Check for travel rewards credit card bonuses

Many credit cards offer fantastic sign-up bonuses and rewards that can be redeemed for airfare, hotels, and other travel expenses. Even when paying for a trip in full, charging for your plane tickets with a credit card is a great way to rack up rewards. 

Where can I find the cheapest flight prices?

When searching for flights, the best way to find a bargain is simply by checking as many platforms as possible. You’ll want to check first online travel agencies, such as Kayak, which allows you to find great deals on bundled arrangements such as flights and hotels.

You will also want to check airlines’ official websites. Sometimes, the cost can be cheaper when bought directly, and many will offer perks such as a 24-hour window for cancellations. Some airlines (like Southwest for example) won’t show up on search engines, so this is a great way to find additional options.

Search the cheapest flights


Avocet flight, Norfolk, UK © Shutterstock

Forget about the cheap flight myths

There are a few common myths about finding cheap flights that are actually not true.

Tuesdays are not magical

There's been a long-standing myth that booking flights on a Tuesday will land you the best deals. However, that's simply not true. Airlines update their flight prices constantly, and these changes are driven more by yield management (demand, competition, etc.) than the day of the week. 

Flight prices go up if you search more

Many might believe that repeated searching leads to a hike in flight prices, suggesting airlines are using your browsing data to trap you into buying a ticket. While this is a widespread belief, it's mostly a myth. Most airlines use a dynamic pricing model, which means they adjust their prices based on the demand for a specific flight and time.

The temporary price fluctuations you might observe during frequent searches are more likely due to other searchers booking the flight, leaving fewer seats in the lower fare brackets. If you want to be ultra-safe, make use of private browsing or incognito mode.

Use the best search tools

When on the hunt for cheap flights, there are a few tools that can help.

Flight search engines

Online travel agents (such as Kayak) can be super helpful for planning trips. You have the benefit of using tools such as the Anywhere search for uncertain destinations, specifying travel dates or a flexible month. These sites also often offer bundle deals for plane tickets and hotels.

Airline alerts

Many sites allow you to receive notifications about specific changes in flight prices, promotions, or other relevant information. Setting a few of these alerts for your dream destination can really help you to save some cash. You might also want to follow airlines on social media to be privy to when sales take place.

Act quickly

Low ticket prices tend to not last long. If you are sure of your travel dates, it’s best to book as soon as you find a great deal.

Why not bypass the tedious hours of planning and researching for your dream trip? Our tailor made trip service simplifies travel. Meticulously crafted by local travel experts, our trips are entirely customizable to suit your preferences. Explore our pre-designed itineraries for Iceland, Morocco, or Mexico to spark inspiration.


How to book cheap flights? For one, act quickly © Shutterstock

Look for budget airlines

Budget airlines are certainly worth considering when planning a budget trip. Don’t forget to factor in additional fees and luggage allowances.

Budget Airlines in the U.S.

Budget airlines operate across the globe, providing low-cost travel options for passengers. In the U.S., there are several budget airlines to consider:

  • Southwest Airlines - Known for free checked bags and no change fees.
  • Spirit Airlines - Offers ultra-low fares with additional costs for extras.
  • Frontier Airlines - Charge for carry-on bags and advance seat assignments but known for affordable base fares.
  • Allegiant Air - Connects smaller cities to popular vacation destinations.
  • Sun Country Airlines - Minneapolis-based airline flying to leisure destinations.

Budget Airlines in the U.K.

In the U.K., there are several budget airlines you can fly with to save:

  • EasyJet - One of Europe's leading low-cost carriers, easyJet offers affordable flights to domestic and international destinations.
  • Ryanair - Famous for pioneering the budget airline model, Ryanair offers cheap fares but charges for additional extras. Their frequent sales often showcase incredibly low prices.
  • Jet2 - Recently voted the UK’s top airline on Tripadvisor, Jet2 offers a balance of low fares and good customer service.
  • Wizz Air - A Hungarian low-cost airline operating in the heart of Europe, Wizz Air has a significant presence in the U.K.

Remember to read the fine print as these airlines typically have extra charges for things like checked luggage, seat selection, and even printing your boarding pass at the airport.

Budget Airlines in Europe

Europe is renowned for its extensive network of budget airlines. Here are some top picks:

  • Ryanair: This Irish airline has been at the forefront of cheap air travel for decades and services a vast array of European cities.
  • easyJet: Another pioneer of low-cost travel, easyJet is known for its comprehensive network in Western Europe and North Africa.
  • Wizz Air: A low-cost Hungarian airline that primarily serves Eastern Europe.
  • Vueling: This Spanish low-cost airline covers a broad range of destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
  • Norwegian Air: Known for offering budget long-haul flights, including transatlantic ones, although it's currently focusing on short-haul routes.
  • Eurowings: Lufthansa's low-cost brand, serves Europe and some long-haul destinations.
  • Transavia: This Dutch airline is a low-cost subsidiary of Air France-KLM.
Nai Yang beach in Phuket Thailand © Shutterstock

Nai Yang beach in Phuket Thailand © Shutterstock

Budget Airlines in Central and South America

Here are some highly popular budget airlines in Central and South America which offer significant savings:

  • Viva Air: A low-cost carrier serving Colombia and Peru.
  • Sky Airline: Based in Chile, this airline offers cheap flights to several South American countries.
  • Gol Airlines: A leading budget airline in Brazil offering a wide array of domestic and regional flights.
  • Interjet: A Mexican low-cost airline providing cheap flights across Mexico, the USA, and Central America.
  • Volaris: Another affordable option for travelling within Mexico and to Central America and the USA.
  • Easyfly: A regional low-cost carrier in Colombia.

Budget Airlines in Asia & Australia

Several budget airlines in Asia & Australia offer economical flights:

  • AirAsia: Asia's largest low-cost airline, operating throughout Asia and as far as Australia and Hawaii.
  • Jetstar: Operates in the Australian domestic market as well as to Asia and the Pacific region.
  • Scoot: Singapore's budget airline serving various Asian and Australian destinations
  • Tigerair: Previously a popular low-cost option for travel around Asia, now merged with Scoot.
  • Cebu Pacific: The Philippines' budget airline offering a network around Asia and Australia.
  • Peach: Japan's first true LCC, Peach connects various Japanese cities with South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan.
  • IndiGo: A major player in India's domestic market, now expanding to international routes.

Namibia desert © Shutterstock

Embrace flexibility

A little flexibility can go a long way in securing an affordable flight.

Benefits of being flexible with your destination and dates

Flexibility is often the key to snagging the lowest possible fares. The cost of flights can vary greatly depending on the day, the time, and how far in advance you book. Being open to flying into or out of different airports can often lead to substantial savings. This is true for both your departure and arrival destination. 

Explore tools on sites like Kayak, our article on best budget destinations can also help. These tools allow you to see the price of flights to anywhere in the world from a chosen departure airport.

Using positioning flights for bigger savings

Positioning flights are a smart strategy to bag cheaper international flights. The idea is to book a cheap domestic flight to get you to a larger hub airport that has lower-cost international flights.

For example, if you live in a smaller US city, you might find cheaper flights to Europe from larger airports like New York's JFK or Los Angeles's LAX. In this case, you could book a positioning flight from your hometown to JFK or LAX, and then score a lower fare on your international leg.

Keep in mind to always allow plenty of time for your layover between the flights. It can also help to pack light, ideally with a carry-on bag, as it simplifies the entire process.


Get ready for your flight © Shutterstock

FAQ - how to find cheap flights

Here are some frequently asked questions when it comes to booking flights.

When is the best time to book a flight?

The best time to book a flight depends heavily on the destination and time of year. However, a general rule is to book domestic flights between one to three months in advance and international flights between five to six months prior. Airfares can be drastically cheaper during shoulder seasons - May through June and August through September. Always remember to avoid peak travel times when possible, and monitor fares closely to catch any price drops.

What are some tools to quickly get cheap flight deals?

Numerous tools can help you get cheap flight deals quickly. You will want to be sure to check search engines (such as Kayak, or Airfarewatchdog), as well as set up alerts.

Make sure to also check airlines' websites directly, as some will not show up on searches

  • Flight search engines: Use online travel agents like Kayak for quick trip planning. Benefit from features like the Anywhere search and bundled deals.
  • Airline alerts: Set notifications for price changes and promotions, and follow airlines on social media for deals.
  • Acting quickly: Low ticket prices are fleeting. Book in advance and book quickly.

Are there any hidden tips to book the cheapest possible flight?

Yes, there are a few "hidden" tips to help you book a cheap flight:

  1. Try the 24-hour rule: After you book, check the next morning to see if the price of your airfare fell. If it did, you can cancel and rebook without penalty on most airlines.
  2. Use different airlines: Mix and match airlines will allow you to possibly save more by flying in and out with different airlines or from different airports.
  3. Choose the cheapest payment method: Some airlines charge an additional fee for credit card payments. Pay using a debit card to avoid these extra charges.

Skip the hassle of planning

Why not skip the hours of planning and researching to go on your dream trip? Our tailor made trip service makes travelling easy. Our trips are meticulously crafted by local travel experts, and are completely customisable to your preferences. See our existing Greece, Italy and India itineraries for inspiration. 

Dre Roelandt

written by
Dre Roelandt

updated 16.01.2024

Dre Roelandt is originally from the United States but lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Dre is a freelance writer and artist with a passion for travelling. They are an in-house Content Editor at Rough Guides.

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