Flight prices vary a lot. We collected 11 tips on how to travel more affordably. The tips don't do magic but they are simple practical steps for cheaper flights. Read our guide and save while booking your next journey!
Covered in the Article
- Secrets of Booking Cheap Flights
- The Best Tips for Cheap Flights
- Flight Comparison Sites
- Bottom Line
Secrets of Booking Cheap Flights
Travelling doesn't need to be expensive. Often, flight tickets make up a big portion of the total travel costs and by flying more affordably, the whole travel budget gets significantly lower. Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks that guarantee cheap flights. By following a few simple steps, the chances of finding affordable deals are high.
The Best Tips for Cheap Flights
We travel often by flying while Helsinki is surrounded by the sea. Flying is the simplest way to leave our home base. Over the years, we have also learned the best ways to find great flight deals and we share them now with our readers.
When your schedule allows, travelling off-season is a wise option as flights and hotels are remarkably cheaper during this time. In addition, destinations are not crowded which makes them more enjoyable.
In Europe, summers are normally peak seasons for travellers. Europeans have their summer vacations in July and August which makes prices peak. In winter, long-haul destinations get more expensive. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to travel in Europe. The weather is still good but prices are low.
It is not always possible to travel outside the holiday seasons especially if families wish to travel together. Arranging leaves from work and school is not always flexible. Luckily, there are other ways to save too.
Travelling to Low-cost Destinations
Flights to certain destinations are cheaper. For example, from Helsinki, it is continuously affordable to fly to London, Budapest or Berlin. Most likely, the routes have more capacity than the demand.
A practical way to find the cheapest destinations is to use Momondo. You just need to specify the origin city and mark Anywhere as the destination. Momondo draws a visual map that shows clearly the cheapest destinations.
Being Flexible with Flight Dates
Flights on Fridays and Sundays are commonly more expensive. Businessmen tend to get home after a workweek and many travellers head to their weekend getaways. If you are planning to have a short weekend trip, why not leave already on Thursday and come back on Monday?
An easy way to find the cheapest travel dates is to use Momondo. Momondo has a handy +/- 3 days search option that allows you to get a nice price table of the flight prices close to your desired dates. The table reveals easily the cheapest travel date combinations.
There are always exceptions. Sometimes flying on Friday or Sunday is affordable. Use Momondo to find the best rates on your travel dates.
Prefering Low-cost Airlines
Probably everyone loves flying with the best airlines but it means a wider-opened wallet. Low-cost airlines like Ryanair, Wizzair, Easyjet and Norwegian take passengers to destinations as fast as traditional airlines. Surely, the service onboard is worse but what does it matter while saving hundreds of euros?
There is also a trap. Low-cost airlines are not as cheap as they advertise. It is necessary to calculate all the costs together and to compare the total costs. Onboard services and transportation to distant airports may increase the costs.
We travel often with low-cost airlines. They are cheap as long as avoid buying unnecessary extras. If you feel need those extras, then you better stick to the traditional airlines.
Travelling light is not only cheaper but also more environmentally friendly way to fly. For a short trip, there is no point in taking heavy luggage with it. A small backpack or a carry-on is enough. That is the way to save from airlines' expensive fees. And who wants to carry heavy luggage?
Low-cost airlines do not serve complimentary drinks or meals onboard. It is totally fine to take your snacks with you. Take a reusable water bottle and fill it with water at the airport just before boarding.
Booking early tends to be cheaper than last-minute bookings. There are also exceptions. Follow the prices a few weeks before the booking to be sure not to pay too much.
Last week's bookings are normally really pricey so it is recommendable to book the flight at least 1-2 months before the travel dates.
Momondo lets you create a price alert. That makes following the prices easy.
Use 3rd Party Booking Sites
Not all people agree that using third-party booking sites is WISE but we recommend it. Constantly, sells airline tickets cheaper than airlines themselves. But tickets become cheaper only if you do not buy any of their extra services and you won't need to modify the bookings later. Online travel agencies are sometimes difficult to reach and they have expensive service fees.
We recommend using 3rd party booking sites but be aware that solving problems with them is more complicated.
The best way to find the cheapest third-party booking sites is to use Momondo.
Combine Flights Yourself
It may become cheaper to book connecting flights as separate bookings. This method is good to try if there are no other affordable connections. For example, when travelling from Helsinki to Ponta Delgada, a good idea is to book a flight first to Lisbon and then a separate booking to Ponta Delgada. Combining flights yourself is time-consuming but it may pay back.
When the flights are ticketed separately, not any airline guarantees the connections. That is why it is good to have at least 3 hours between the flights. We recommend taking also travel insurance to protect you from the extra costs caused by missing a connection. Check instant quotations from a true nomad's travel insurance company, SafetyWing.
Pay with a Voucher
Sometimes when airlines cancel flights, they offer compensation as a voucher. Usually, the voucher has more value than the money compensation would have had. Accepting a voucher is a good idea if you are sure to fly again with the same airline.
Error and Sale Fares
Now and then, airlines make mistakes and they sell flights unbelievably cheap. Even though the prices may have been a mistake, airlines normally honour the bookings. Error fares must be booked immediately before they disappear.
SecretFlying is a good website to look for error fares. Normal ticket sales can be found easily by Momondo.
Fly for Free
The cheapest way to fly is to fly free. Flying free means using airlines' miles and bonus cash. Miles are not a shortcut to getting free flights because earning them takes time.
Some credit cards give you miles while you spend. As long as you do not increase your spending habits, earning miles with credit cards is a good way to free flights. For example, we are using Bank Norwegian's credit card which gives us free cash to be used for Norwegian Air Shuttle's flights.
Multiple flight booking guides recommend using incognito mode while looking for prices. We are not sure if it helps. However, there is nothing to lose in trying this commonly recommended trick.
Flight Comparison Sites
The best way to save is to compare flight prices. There are tens of online flight comparison tools but the quality varies. Good comparison sites have access to a huge amount of data, they process it fast and offer an intuitive user interface.
Momondo is one the biggest comparison engines and it has reliable brands. While there are other good tools like Skycanner, Momondo is a good starting point.
Sometimes not any comparison tool finds the prices of small local airlines. If you intend to fly domestic routes with minor airlines, we recommend confirming the prices from the airline's website.
How Flight Comparison Sites Work?
It is vital to understand how cheap flight comparison sites work.
Comparison tools are meta-search engines that do not sell airline tickets themselves but only compare the prices of multiple online travel agencies. When a customer decides to book, he/she will be forwarded to an online travel agency's website. Usually, the meta-comparison tool gets a small commission from the online travel agency.
The prices on comparison tools are not always correct. Prices are continuously changing and comparison tools keep their data caches. The cache is not always up-to-date. In rare events, you won't be able to book the flight for the price it was shown.
Comparison tools work the best on popular routes. If you are heading to a minor airport, they may not find all the good options.
- How to find cheap flights?
- An open and flexible mind is the best way to find cheap flights. Compare prices with meta-search engines, be flexible and choose the cheapest suitable airline/connection.
- Is Momondo reliable?
- Yes, it is. Momondo only finds good prices but you place a booking on another. Sometimes, Momondo's price information is not up-to-date.
- How early should I book a flight?
- It is better to book a flight too early than too late. We would say 3 months earlier is enough.
- Are online travel agencies safe booking platforms?
- Most of them are. Stick to well-known online booking agencies and pay for the tickets with a credit card.
- What is the cheapest season to travel?
- In Europe, autumn and spring are affordable seasons.
- Are low-cost airlines a good choice?
- They are a good choice as long as you do not expect too much. Avoid buying extras because they cost a lot.
- Is it possible to travel without check-in luggage?
- Of course - we almost always travel without check-in luggage to save costs.
- What happens if I miss a connecting flight?
- The airline will still take you to the destination if the connected flight is on the same ticket as the previous one. In other cases, you need to pay yourself or ask for a refund from your insurance company.
- Where to find error fares?
- Check SecretFlying.com.
- Do airlines honour error fares?
- Often, airlines honour them. If they do not cancel the flight in a few weeks, you are on the safe side.
- Should I use incognito mode while booking?
- At least, it won't cause any harm. However, it does not help much either.
Travelling will always take your money. By being a wise booker, you may save a lot on your travel costs. You just need to make a little effort to find them.
While the internet is full of flight booking tools, it is enough to use a few of them. Everyone has his/her favourite. Momondo is a well-working tool but so is Skyscanner. Use the tool you like the most.
Do you know more booking tricks? Comment below!
About the Author
Niko is one of the founding members of Finnoy Travel. He does not only handle the technical operations of the Finnoy Travel, but also generates content, both independently and in collaboration with others. His content primarily focuses on reviewing travel services, providing information about Finland, and sharing useful travel tips.
Niko's passion for aviation complements his vast global travel experience. When crafting articles, he devotes substantial amounts of time to thorough research on his subjects. His pieces are not only enlightening but also encompass his individual experiences.