How to Get Cheap Flights
If you’ve ever wondered how to find cheap airfare, you’ve likely read some conflicting info online. Here are some of our top tips and myths debunked.
- Google Incognito mode won’t help you find cheap flights – There’s no shortage of online publications or bloggers that spread the myth that if you use Google Incognito mode to look for flights, it will “mask” your IP and browsing history, allowing you to purchase flights from booking engines that access that data in order to charge you more. This is untrue. In fact, the Google Incognito Support page will tell you that it’s untrue: “It won't stop other sources from seeing your browsing activity, including the websites you visit themselves”.
- Use online tools and forecasting - I use a combination of different search and forecasting tools like Google Flight Explorer , Sky Scanner, Kayak, Hopper and ITA Matrix, to see how different dates, routes, and destinations affect the price. With Google Flight Explorer you can change the dates and look at the graph to see when the cheapest time of year might be. It also gives you tips on how you can save if you change your dates, or connect through another airport. One of my favourite options in Google Flights is to set the dates and look at the worldwide view of what various flights cost for that specified time. One thing to keep in mind is that ITA Matrix and Google Flights aren’t booking engines, but search aggregators however, they should lead you to the appropriate booking engines.
- Look for alternate routes – There could be many ways to get where you’re going. See if you can get a connecting flight to your final destination, or see if you can get cheaper airfare by changing the connection city. For instance, if you’re looking to fly from Toronto to Miami, you might find a cheaper flight from Toronto to Buffalo, then Buffalo to Miami. It will probably take you longer, but you could save a bunch, and it could work out in your favour. Another scenario, you could find cheaper airfare with a connection in a city you’ve always wanted to see where you might actually be able to stay a couple days. There is one caveat, though, if you book separate flights with minimal connection time, make sure you have enough time to catch your flight or account for any delays. If your first flight is delayed so long that you miss your connection, the first airline has no obligation to help you out since they’re separate bookings.
- Check out smaller budget airlines directly on their own site – Some budget airlines don’t show up in search results and you have to check the flights on their sites. Once you’ve figured out the different cities where you can get a connecting flight, look on budget airline websites to see which cities they fly in/out of and see if you can create some combination of flights that will lower your overall cost.
- Collect points – People often ask what the best travel cards are, but more importantly, you should find the best travel card for you. There’s a variety of travel cards out there that dispense reward points or miles in different ways. You have to find a card that gives you the most back on the things you buy the most. The card I use gives me back double the mileage on gas and groceries, which are the two things I purchase the most. Also factor in whether it has an annual fee, and whether it’s worth paying that compared to what it offers. Some cards also give bonus sign-up miles that are enough for a short-haul flight within Canada.
- Get updates from Travel discount sites – Sites like Secret Flying and Next Departure have incredible deals on airfare because they scrape the web for the cheapest airfares. This also comes with some caveats. You don’t have the option to choose by destination or date because they scrape data from the web to give you the most incredible deals. Usually, the deals that are released are for preset destinations, with specific dates, and you usually have to get them fast because they’re so cheap they sell out. Sometimes you have to be ready to leave the next week, so it helps if you’re flexible on location, and can secure vacation days with little notice, but the deals from sites like these are unreal.
- Set airfare alerts – Many airfare booking sites will allow you to set alerts to email you if the price drops below a certain range.