Because everybody deserves a break that doesn’t break the bank.
I’m one of those people who love searching the web for flights. Whether it’s for upcoming trips, trips that might not even get booked, or trips on the behalf of friends who just don’t want to deal with the hassle of going from site to site on the never-ending slog of looking for a price that a) you’re content with and b) you think you’re not getting ripped off on. Honestly, in another life, I might have fancied myself as a bit of a travel agent.
Understandably, finding flights can be a nightmare job, from figuring out the best days to fly, the best times to fly – and the cheapest way to do both, it can take you from 0 to 60 of stress headaches in approximately the amount of time it takes to read a single sentence. Not fun.
Over the time my interest has grown, I think I’ve found a bit of a routine that works for me. Certain websites that I check, and certain days and times that I know checking said websites would be cheaper.
There’s a lot of rumours online about times and days to check for flights – and about how the information the site saves about you can be used to hike the price up, thus making your return trips to check the prices more stressful because it looks like it’s getting more expensive, when in fact it isn’t. This is what I wanted to talk about today!
Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve learnt from booking flights, researching about booking flights and two sites that I truly believe should be everyone’s go-to’s when hunting out a good deal!
Myth or Myth-taken? Flight booking conspiracies and how to solve them:
- Flights are cheapest on a Tuesday. Strangely, this one is true. Although comparatively, they aren’t a lot cheaper than any other day, according to website traffic data, flights are most widely searched for Friday – Sunday, and least on a Tuesday. Because of this, you’ll usually snag a good price on a Tuesday hunt because a lot of flight sites use the fact that less people search on this day to offer those that do something sweet.
- Flights are cheapest 8 weeks before. This one, also, is true. But not in all cases. It’s true that flight prices hike up considerably fast from the 8th week to the 6th, 4th and 2nd before takeoff, so if you happen upon a price 8 weeks or more before, you’re usually seeing it at quite a good price.
- Flights are cheaper the earlier you book them. This one is a myth – like stated in the fact before, flights can be cheap, and even at their cheapest, all the way up until 8 weeks before. So although you may want to nab a seat far in advance to make sure the flight isn’t sold out, if you’re leisurely and don’t mind waiting – the price won’t hike itself up like mad anytime before the 8th week prior.
- Flights get more expensive depending on how often you look at them. This one is true, and down to the great little things known as cookies. Essentially, cookies are data. Data that tells websites who you are, if you’ve visited their site before and what you’ve been looking at. Flight websites will then interpret this data into saying “hey, these people are looking at Flight X to Italy. Let’s hike the price up a bit so they’ll get scared that it’s going to skyrocket and book at our inflated price.” This can be avoided though, by simply doing your flight hunting with ‘incognito mode’ enabled on your web browser.
Meet Your New Best Friends: Skyscanner & Kayak
This is usually the first port of call for me on my flight-search. It’s been over a year since I started using Skyscanner and I STILL don’t know whether it’s a coveted secret or something that everybody knows about! The same can be said for Kayak, which I’ve only just started using recently.
Both sites are like the Amazon of flights: you put in your dates, your flexibility and the magic does the rest. I always start a search with Skyscanner to get a general gist of prices, but more recently I’ve been using Kayak too and seeing even cheaper prices on there!
I don’t know if they competitively go lower than each other, but when used in conjunction you can definitely see that one is always cheaper than the other!
The Magic of Apps
Firstly, Hopper. Does anybody know Hopper? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anybody else referencing this app online. I don’t know why though because I have about 4 flights stewing on there at any given time.
Hopper is a free app that gives you freakin’ good peace of mind over time. Like Skyscanner, you search and select your dates – but taking it to the next level, Hopper will predict whether the price is likely to go down or up depending on when you book.
Basically, the app will say when the best time for you to book would be based on the average fluctuation (fancy word) of this flight across various weeks leading up to the date. That make sense? Then you’ll receive a weekly notification like “hiya, this flight is currently £ but the price is likely to drop” or “Hiya, this flight is currently £ and this ain’t goin’ nowhere but up so you better log on and book this sucker soon”.
*UPDATE: Kayak offers the same flight-prediction on their site & in the app, so if you search/purchase with them you get the same feature in there, too*
Mailing Lists Don’t Have to Be Pests
Last week Easyjet offered me £30 return to Berlin off their mailing list and it was so delectable I had to put all my willpower into not buying two tickets pronto.
Then the next day it offered me a £30 return to Paris and sweat beaded so hard on my forehead that I had to resign myself to delete the e-mail without even looking. Damn for busy periods of work.
What this little experience has taught me, however, is that mailing lists are friends, not foes. These little dingbats, though evil, when coming from the wrong companies, can be the blessing in disguise you need when you want to book a trip somewhere but you don’t know where and then – Hey, Berlin for £30? Lemme be ri– alright it’s booked! What were you saying?
Go Directly to Flight Company Websites
Another alternative to mailing lists and their inner beauty is going straight to the airline’s websites. Easyjet, in particular, has a load of cheap flights in brilliant locations. Ryanair is another fab site for great prices. This is less of a tip and probably more common knowledge so I’m not going to press too much on this topic. But yeah, check out those airline websites. Especially discount lines, they’re always a great place to start and discount doesn’t mean an uncomfortable or horrible ride at the end of the day. You can get some real gems of a trip – they’re a lot better than you might expect.
Learn to Love the Unsociable Travel
When going in for the cheapest tickets – ALWAYS be liberal with your dates and times. I remember reading a post similar to this where somebody recommended making yourself available to fly unsociable hours and promised that it would save you heaps of cash.
And me, being trusting as ever, scoffed a “yeah whatever” scoff and moved on. Oh Michael of the past, how wrong you were. Now when I see a 7 a.m. flight I’m clicking faster than those brothers playing Pieface in that meme.
The one thing I’m not too sure on are layovers. Some people claim that layovers save you money but I’m yet to be like “OH! So if we fly into ____ and then wait for ______ and fly to _______ we’ll save £££!” (how imaginative was that?) – in fact, nearly every layover I’ve seen while flight hunting has been a lot more expensive than flying directly!
I never noticed how much different browsing privately makes to the price. If you don’t think that these sneaky airlines save your browsing details then browse privately and be satisfied at the fact that they’ll probably offer you a cheaper price than if you were re-checking a flight EVEN IF YOU’RE LOOKING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. Why you gotta do me like that, guys? I thought we were all friends here.
Clear Your Cookies on the Regular
The same idea applies to your cookies. Basically, cookies is another word for the information saved from the websites you visit – so when you delete all your cookies, your previous browsing data is deleted along with them so airlines don’t know that you’ve been looking at that luxe flight to Prague every day this week, and instead offer you the price they would if you were checking for the first time (and odds are, it’ll be a lot cheaper. Js.)
I really hope this post has helped convince you to go and book those flights for that holiday you completely deserve. Because you do, and if there’s any time to get looking at treating yourself it’s right now. Because why not that’s why. So go do.
I’d love to hear if you have any travel tips of your own! Be sure to comment any down below! The Thrifty Traveller’s Guide is a series of posts I do on my blog about travel hacks and how to travel affordably, so if you’d love to check out more posts from the series, please click here.
I hope you have a lovely day,