So, Do You Want To Fly Cheaply?
Step 1: Read this topic
Flying for cheap isn’t the hardest thing in the world. People say I fly a lot, so I must have a huge stockpile of money. Well, it is true you have to have some income, as flying isn’t free. But do you have to have a lot? The answer to that is of course a resounding no. I want to share with you how I do it.
Now before I start, remember this: flying is only a little part of the cost. If you want to travel, there are a host of other costs involved. This is what can make travel expensive, so I can share how I manage that at a later date. So without further ado, here are a few tips, pointers and websites that can help you travel for cheap!
Step 2: Flexible, Patient and a little Mad
What do you think is the most important aspect of finding the cheapest flight? Vote in the poll below!
Patience: When looking for a cheap flight, wait it out. You can learn to predict trends in flight prices, and there are certain times that are cheaper than others to book. Is it true that it is best to book when flights are first released? No. Is it true that prices are always crazy high last minute? No again!
Flexibility This is the most important thing. To fly cheaply, one must fly…weirdly. You may have to take the longest route, take a long time to travel, or as I have done, go somewhere just to come back and depart your original airport!
Madness You wanna fly? You have to just go for it. When a crazy cheap fare comes along, you have to just take it! Yes, you can wait, but that is until the fare comes up. When it comes up, you gotta go for it! Every single one of my adventures have been random due to crazy cheap fares.
Step 3: Use These Websites!
Now For the Fun Bit!
This is where I know how best to get a cheap ticket. You don’t need to look over all the websites, spending hours doing all the work. Guess what, people do that for you already! You probably already know you have to be flexible, but do you know these websites?
1) Secret Flying
By far the best of them all is Secret Flying. This is a website that looks all over the internet, sending regular updates about flights. They have a page dedicated to Error Fares. What is an error fare you say? This article can help you understand. The website also highlights cheap fares that are not just an error fare, and are just a low cost flight. These are more safe as airlines can cancel error fares.
Secret flying also do hotel deals, and on top of that a blog. I highly recommend you follow them on Twitter and turn on post notifications for them. Error fares tend to sell out quickly or are removed by the airline.
Home Page: http://www.secretflying.com
Error Fare Page: http://www.secretflying.com/posts/category/error-fare/
Blog Page: http://www.secretflying.com/blog/
2: Jack’s Flight Club
Designed for UK residents only, Jack does the hard work for you. He finds cheap flights, emailing you once a week with a summary of them. His premium service has a whole host of features, however the most useful is the increased number of emails you get. You can also chose specific departure airports that you want to be notified about if cheap flights are found from there. I have just subscribed to his premium service, so I will let you guys know how that goes.
Home Page: https://www.jacksflightclub.co.uk
Skyscanner? Why Skyscanner you say? Skyscanner is by far the most useful tool if you want to search for cheap flights yourself. The app is good, but the website is amazing. You have the ability to search from an airport to anywhere in the world. The good thing about it is that it includes all the low cost airlines! I recently found a return flight from Luton to Sofia for £5, and that was before it was picked up by any of the professionals!
Home Page: https://www.skyscanner.net
4) FlyerTalk Forum
Something I use less, but is still useful, FlyerTalk is a forum with a specific thread that one can find cheap or error fares on. I usually browse through it to see if there are any fares that are interesting and not picked up by the usual websites. The forum is a little messy and this one is way better.
5) Matrix ITA Software
This is where it gets complex. The Matrix is a piece of software from Google that allows you to see extreme detail of flights and their fares. The software allows for you to see fare types, the breakdown of the cost of the ticket, and most importantly if there is a ‘fuel dump’ mistake. This is what can cause very cheap fares from airlines.
This is a very complex topic, and Secret Flying have an awesome blog post that explains it all. Negotiating with Fuel Dumping tickets is tricky, and if you get the hang of it, keep it quiet when at the airport. The last thing you want is an employee informing their manager than you are ‘travel hacking’ of sorts.
Home Page: https://matrix.itasoftware.com
Blog Post: http://www.secretflying.com/posts/fuel-dumping-basics/
6: Low Cost Airlines!
Last, and most obvious, is the land of the low cost airline. Most of these airlines have a ‘fare finder’ section, sometimes tucked away from view. Ryanair has by far the best one, and you can find many cheap flights with them. On special occasions, low cost airlines in particular have flash sales. It is worth having twitter post notifications on for these airlines. I got myself a £2 return to Copenhagen with Ryanair this way!
7: The Others
There are many other websites or apps you can use. These are a few of my most used ones:
- Fly Nous. Cheap Fares: http://www.flynous.com
- Fly4Free. A worse Secret Flying: http://www.fly4free.com/flights/flight-deals
- Scott’s Cheap Flights. Like Jack’s Flight Club but for the USA: https://scottscheapflights.com
- Fly Nous Free Airline Hotel List. In the name: http://www.flynous.com/list-airlines-offering-free-hotel-layover/
- STA Travel. My most used for flying generally. Student and U26 fares: https://www.statravel.co.uk
- Google Flights. A Rubbish Skyscanner: https://www.google.co.uk/flights/
There are apps to help as well such as GTFO, Hopper, Luckytrip and Momodo.
Step 4: The Know-how
It is no use having all these amazing resources if you don’t know how to use them to the best of your advantage. To get cheap flights you need knowledge. You need to know who flies where, who is the cheapest, what alternate routes you can take, who has the best miles programme. When you get into it more, you can travel hack with miles, however cheap flights don’t always go hand in hand with this if you are changing airline each time.
So before you go looking for cheap flights, brush up on your commercial aviation knowledge. Knowing how to fly an A320 in a sim won’t get you a £180 return from the UK to America: knowing the inns and outs of the route and its complex networks will.
There a loads of articles that tell you how to fly cheaply, so I wanted to avoid that and instead focus on helping you actually find the fares, skipping all the waffle of the many articles. A few, however, are useful.
Thrifty Nomads: http://thriftynomads.com/booking-cheapest-flight-possible-anywhere/
The Runaway Guide: http://www.runawayguide.com/runaway-travel-guides/how-to-fly-for-cheap/
Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/23-secrets-to-booking-cheap-flights-2012-7?IR=T/#test-the-24-hour-rule-1
Smarter Travel: https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/06/19/hack-way-cheaper-airfare/
Post your finds or cheap flight hacks below! Please keep it tidy and in the correct format found below: