What has contributed to our ability to travel as much as we have has been the access to cheap flights. Finding cheap flights is a process and requires you to cut through all of the noise provided by MANY travel agents, stores, websites and yes, other travel blogs. You must understand though, airlines are a business. They will try to sell their seats for the highest price possible and therefore will only offer a few less expensive seats. So how do we find the cheap seats? We are going to break things down into steps to make it easier to understand. This may require some patience, but so does traveling 😉
Determine where and when you want to go
When we decided we wanted to travel for a year in Australia, flights to Sydney seemed to be the major destination that many companies were advertising. This does not necessarily mean it was the cheapest to fly to.
What we did next was researched what other possible cities that we could fly to. For instance when flying to Australia, Brisbane and Melbourne were other viable options for us to compare prices.
We then took a look at the time we wanted to travel and determined if we needed to look at very specific days or if we wanted to take advantage of airlines offering discounted fares on alternate dates. If you can, this will save you money. Many flight websites will allow you to search days +/- 3. And while some people say that week days are less expensive, however this is not always true.
Start flight searches early and get a sense of what you want to pay
There are multiple ways you can approach this step, but it all depends how committed you are to finding a good price. Obviously, the more committed you are, the better prices you can find. Either way, this is probably you most important step as it establishes whether you are the one sitting in economy class with cramped leg space or the one sitting in economy class with cramped leg space having paid $300-$400 more than the passenger sitting next to you.
–>Easiest way: Price Alerts
Most airline websites and search engines (kayak.com, skyscanner, cheapoair, etc.) will all allow you to set price alerts. Because you have already researched where you can fly to, you know that you can set multiple flight alerts. You can set as many as you want, which will allow you to compare prices on routes. You can set multiple dates as well. As mentioned above, having a flexible schedule allows for a better opportunity to get a cheap flight. The price alert will arrive in your email inbox, notifying you every time there is a price change. The complication of using price alerts could be while you are waiting for the sites to give you updates, someone could be snatching up the less expensive seat.
–>Best way: Price Alerts & site comparisons
There are literally hundreds of different search engines these days to find you the best flight deal, car rental, hotel deal, etc. I remember growing up that my dad always used Expedia.com/.ca to find our family deals. But as I started looking myself I started to realize that Expedia wasn’t always the best price. I would look on Flightnetwork.com, Flightcentre.ca, etc. The search was endless. Then I found www.kayak.com. This company has been my favourite for a while now because it searches all of the flight sites for me. In most cases, Kayak is pretty accurate.
It has occurred to me lately though that like most sites, it is obvious that sponsors are involved. This means that certain airlines and sites are working in conjunction with Kayak, therefore possibly leaving out the best price for a unsponsored airline. This can be seen on the website, where a site called Flighthub.com is consistently advertising lower prices right on Kayak’s search results. So the best way for you to cut through the noise is to:
- Start with Kayak.com to establish an approximate price. Search your preferred destination and date.
- Create multiple price alerts with Kayak.com. This company also give you a confidence chart that helps you choose whether this is the best time to purchase.
- When searching a price with Kayak, ensure that you choose the option to compare against all of the sites they offer. Check each box.
- Once the lowest price is provided to you, go straight to the airlines website (Ex. www.aircanada.ca) to see if the price is comparable. If the price is the same and you like the price, book with the airline, as it easier to change and cancel flights if needed.
- With the price you find on Kayak.com, check a couple of other sites such as www.Flightnetwork.com and www.Flighthub.com. These flight sites are not partnered with Kayak.
- If you are doing this early enough from your desired flight date, usually somewhere between 5-7 months in advance, you will be able to establish an understanding of what is a good price and what is a high price. There are multiple sites that give you an idea of how early you want to book for certain locations.
- Complete this process about 2-3 times a week. This will change depending on how close you are to the price. Initially there will be little to no movement in the price, it might even go up (this is due to people booking VERY far in advance and not caring too much about price). You will see the price drop though and, within a certain “sweet spot,” you are going to want to check more often because guess what? Others are looking at this same exact flight and they a want good price too 🙂
- Finally, if you stay committed and take a bit of time (a couple of hours at most each week), you will find a fantastic deal. Build this into your travel routine and you will save A LOT of MONEY, which you can then use for something fun during your travels.
I pride myself on the ability to find a fair price for our flights and I would love to help out others to develop this pride as
well. Many people ask how we are able to travel to the places we do and for how long and often as we do. It has to do with the willingness do our research.
We love traveling and want to continue to do it for a long time. Knowing how to find that flight price will allow you to live a comfortable travel life as well.