As a budget backpacker, I know that every single person on a plane paid a different price for their seat. This is just the way the industry works. What I try to ensure is that I am the person on the plane that paid the lowest price. This article will give you an understanding on the factors that affect flight prices and will guide you through the best way to find the cheapest flights.
The trick to finding the cheapest flights is as simple as FLEXIBILITY.
You may think there is more to it than flexibility but not really. The more you start to be picky about different things, the higher price you are likely to pay for the flights. It is a result of narrowing down the number of flights available within your criteria. This closes your options and the cheapest flights may now lie outside your criteria
9 Things to Consider
This is the biggest influencer in the price of a flight but the one that you are most unlikely to change. The more you narrow down the location, the less flights their are to choose from which gives you less chance of securing a deal. For instance, flights to Belgium may be extremely cheap for a short time but if you have your heart set on Germany then you don’t get to take advantage of this.
TIP: HAVE SEVERAL LOCATIONS IN MIND WHEN PLANNING TO TRAVEL
2. Date of Departure
Flight prices are completely different each day of travel. If you are stubborn and wish to fly on a particular date then you have no choice but to pay the price offered. Yes, most people can’t just fly anytime but keeping an open mind will save you some money.
TIP: Book your holidays at work for the dates you have found the cheapest flights. Do not book your holidays first and hope the flights will be cheap, this is a rookie mistake.
3. Day of Departure
Most people go for a “weekend away”. A Friday – Monday city break or alike. Many people get weekends off which is understandable but Friday tends to be one of the more expensive days for flights. Life will get in the way of being flexible but would you consider Saturday – Tuesday or even better, a trip during the week. The flight prices that are low are the tickets that people are less likely to buy so by keeping an open mind and staying flexible, you can benefit.
TIP: Work and life are going to hold you back but try be as flexible as you can as flying a time other than the weekend could save you a lot of money as the cheapest flights are on during low-peak travel times.
4. Length of holiday
Again, you will have a set idea in your head of how long you want to go away for but this limits how many flights there are to choose from and how much you will pay. Chances are you will be thinking 3,4 or 7 days. Why not 5 or 6?
TIP: Consider a different number of days as this could also save you a lot of money. The more flights there are within your criteria, the better chance you have of finding the cheapest flights. It’s the law of averages.
Why be fussy with the airline? I have travelled with over 10 airlines at least and I have had no issues with any of them. They all have to meet strict standards before they can fly. I actually prefer the no frills airlines such as Ryanair & Easyjet, because you pay for exactly what you want from the flight and not for a whole bunch of other stuff that is nice but unnecessary. You may have a preconception about an airline but trust me, they are absolutely fine.
TIP: Don’t pay extra simply because of the airline as it is honestly not worth it. You are in the air a few hours and if you want a little comfort with the no-frills airlines you can pay for priority boarding, extra legroom etc.
You always fly from that airport, that is the closest airport so why would you fly from anywhere else. THE PRICE. Consider flying from another airport close by or even better a different airport when you land. For instance, Glasgow is much more convenient for me but Edinburgh is usually half the price and it’s easy enough to get there. When I fly to Krakow, I sometimes go to Katowice Airport and take a bus for 1 hour because of the price. Consider other airports especially if the price difference is vast.
TIP: Be open minded, you work hard for your money so why waste it instead of taking a small bus or train journey. I have no idea why one airport a short distance away can offer the cheapest flights when another cannot but use it to your advantage.
If you pay for an extra seat, you probably have your reasons but consider how much you would save by getting one allocated and whether that has value for you. I always check in last minute and usually get extra legroom. It is not a travel hack as far as I am aware of but the way I see it, they won’t allocate lucrative seats until the last minute incase someone buys them. That is my theory.
TIP: If you are paying for extra legroom without much reason, consider the value. Does that extra cost really hold value to you?
8. Time of Day
Being flexible about the time of day you travel can save a little bit of money. It’s not even something I ever look at but if you are going a short trip then you want as much as time as possible but if it is just because the flight is early, think how much extra you are paying for a lie in.
TIP: Try not to be fussy if your schedule allows it and consider value.
Last but not least, the stopover. This is aimed towards long haul flights. These flights tend to cost several hundred pounds. You may want a direct flight because it is easier which is understandable but consider the ones with stopovers. It will extend your travel time and cause inconvenience but you can literally save over £100 just for stopping in an airport for a couple of hours.
TIP: Check the price difference between direct and flights with stopovers and consider whether the stopover time is worth that extra money in your pocket.
When searching for flights, clear your cache and change your locations settings. This is a secret the airlines do not want you to know. I am hopeless at explaining HOW and WHY this works so I suggest you read the instructions laid out by my friend Mike at Hobo with a Laptop
Where to Search ?
You now know what influences the flight prices and can put these tips in place to save yourself some money. Where is the best place to search for flights though?
The answer to that is SKYSCANNER.
There are many flight comparison websites but few like Skyscanner where you are pretty much guaranteed the cheapest flights on offer in my experience. The beauty of Skyscanner though is some other search features which I have detailed below.
Search for Any Destination
As you can see, this feature allows you to leave the destination field blank, just insert the airport you wish to fly from and the dates and it will give you a list of the places you can fly to in order of least expensive first.
You can also refine this down to a particular country as can be seen in the image below. This means that if you have a particular country in mind, you can see where will be lowest destination to fly to within its borders.
Search for Any Dates
This search feature allows you to stay flexible and find the cheapest flights by allowing you to search for any date. You can refine this to a particular month or cheapest month. Once you hit search a calendar will appear showing the flight price on each day.
This allows you to compare the dates that you are available and the prices on each day. You can then match these up with your desired holiday length to find the best deal. No longer will you be wondering if flying the day before or the day after may have been cheaper.
Search Nearby Airports
To save money, you could consider travelling from a nearby airport. This could take only 30 minutes to get to but save you a lot of money. With Skyscanner, you can click “Nearby Airports” and it will show you well…airports nearby. As it lists the cheapest first, even if you do not select the cheapest flight, you know the one you do select will have the greatest value for you.
Below you can see I searched from Edinburgh to Krakow with the nearvy airports button. It gave me the results for Glasgow and Katowice airports. Both Glasgow and Katowice are 1 hour bus ride away from the desired airports yet it is £50 cheaper. Incredible.
If you want any more tips or advice on this one, send me a message:
Facebook – Let’s Backpack @letsbackpackblog
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org