How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible - Thrifty Traveler

How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible

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I can’t even count the times I’ve seen family and friends spend thousands of dollars on flights to various destinations. Most people are completely unaware of how and where to find flight deals, much less how to use points and miles to fly for free. My rule of thumb is this, if you spend over $1,000 for a flight anywhere in the world, then you paid too much. Have I paid more than $1k for a flight in the past? Absolutely, but I’ve honed my skills since then. Let’s run down exactly how to book the cheapest flights possible.

 

My favorite flight searching tool: Google Flights 

Google Flights is the best flight search engine. All you need to do is enter a departure city and destination, as well as sample dates, and you’ll have access to the powerful calendar view (see photo below). This is the holy grail of flight search, and the simplest way to find the cheapest fare (lowest fares in green). Make sure to view other dates because there may be sales far beyond your search dates. Just click the arrows by the calendar to tab over to other months.

 

How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible
Google Flight Calendar View

 

Another great feature of Google Flights is the ability to use the map view known as “Explore Destinations”, it’ located just to the right of the calendar view above. It allows you to see the prices of other destinations from your departure city. I use this very frequently when there is a sale to Europe, in order to identify other sale cities, nearby. Another powerful feature is setting up a Google Price Alert to monitor price changes and book the cheapest flight possible.

 

How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible
Explore Destinations Map View

 

Momondo 

Before booking your next flight always check Momondo before paying. You can usually save a few dollars by booking through one of the online travel agencies they search. Many times you won’t have the option of 24-hour cancellation and that is why it’s cheaper. Click here to learn more about how Momondo finds the cheapest flights.

 

Positioning Flights

The problem with flight deals is many times they are only from select cities. Most people just ignore a mistake fare or fare deal if it’s not originating from their city. This is a huge mistake. Many times you can find a cheap round-trip fare or use points & miles to get to the city the flight deal is originating from. These are what are known as positioning flights, and they are essential to being a thrifty traveler. Just make sure to give yourself a 3-4 hour time buffer to avoid a missed flight due to a delay on your positioning flight.

 

Priceline

Even though Google Flights generally has the cheapest airfare, there have been times when Priceline was able to find something cheaper. Do this separate from the Priceline selection within Google Flights. It’s odd but using Priceline through Google Flights and searching Priceline separate can yield different prices.

 

Thrifty Traveler Premium

We’re always keeping an eye out for the best flight deals. To get instant emails for the best international flight deals, make sure to subscribe to Thrifty Traveler Premium.

 

Points and Miles

I rarely book a trip without using points and miles. Even 1-2 credit card sign-up bonuses should be enough to cover the travel costs for you to fly anywhere in the world.

 

Bottom Line

Booking the cheapest flight possible is as easy as following the steps above. We find an incredible amount of flight deals, but you have to be flexible and be willing to book immediately. Like I always state in my flight deals, you can cancel most fares purchased within 24 hours. Our mantra is book now and ask questions later!

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

10 Responses

  • saw you on twin cities live and you stated you could fly to Europe for under $500. looked up flights in September but couldn’t find anything under $800 on google flights

      • I am always leery of such a cheap flight… I mean, I assume that it would be classified as a “discounted economy” fare in which case, one could not think “well, I saved so much on the ticket price, let me see how much an upgrade might cost me” because “discounted economy” isn’t typically upgradeable. Am I correct?

        And my follow up question is, would you even qualify for the same cost “premium economy” upgrade?

        Thanks

  • I just returned from Budapest (from Minneapolis) and traveled with Icelandiar + Wizzair. Now, Wizzair doesn’t show up in traditional flight searches (e.g., GoogleFlights). I continually found fares from Minneapolis rising, with incredibly long (overnight) layovers. Finally, through Momondo I discovered that it searches other flight search engines (e.g., kiwi.com) which informed me of the combination I ended up using. I read enough about kiwi that I was reluctant to book with them and booked the two flights separately. Which going with Wizzair felt a little risky (it’s a no frills, regional European carrier), I appreciated the $800 RT from MSP to Budapest that also allowed a one day/not overnight return compared with the 1200 fares or fares from Chicago that would have required added time and money to get to/from Chicago. My point being, that the major flight engines are good but not always successful and it’s worth doing a bit more checking and using alternate engines to find arrangements that might work.

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