How to get the cheapest flight every single time

We get it. You’re busy and your time is valuable. Here are 8 ways to get the cheapest flights in the shortest amount of time

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Image: Michal Bednarek/123rf

Ever excitedly planned a trip abroad with your friends just to have your spirits dip once you see how exorbitant the flight ticket prices are? It can put quite a dampener on your wanderlust and set a bad beginning to your vacay.

Flight-booking is an art unto itself, and there’s a specific formula to get the best deals in the market. Here’s some key tips that will save your time, frustration and most importantly, money when planning your next holiday. Translation: This leaves you with a bigger spending budget during the trip!

1. Sign up for email alerts
Prices change… a lot. Sometimes as much as three times per day. If you don’t want the best deals to slip through your fingers, sign up for newsletters from your favourite airlines. It may mean more To Be Deleted emails in your inbox, but it will all be worth it once you land say, a $280 flight to Japan.

2. Use an Incognito Browser
Ever searched for a flight, got distracted by the new episode of Game of Thrones, returned to re-search the same flight just to see a massive price hike? That’s because your search history is being monitored by airline companies! It’s a clever strategy they use to scare you into buying the tickets quickly before the prices “rise” any further. Use a private window in your browser to avoid these sneaky price hikes.

3. Book peak holiday season tickets ASAP
Planning to travel during peak holiday season? So is everybody else. Dally no more and book those tickets now. Don’t bother scouting for a cheaper flight because there will be none to be found. Your best bet is to book now before the ticket prices rise any higher.

4. Know your stuff
Here are some general rules to keep to when booking flights:

1) The best time to buy tickets is six to eight weeks from the take-off date. With the exception of flash sales, of course!
2) Aim to travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Flying mid-week is usually the cheapest time of the week to fly. And the most expensive? Sundays.

Kayak.sg is a fun little tool that scans other travel sites to give you the best (and cheapest) results. They have also mapped out the best times for Singaporeans to book and travel to popular destinations in the handy graph below. Their list is incredibly useful and worth bookmarking!

5. Make stopovers
One of the best ways to save money on flights is to make stopovers along the way. Flights with transits are almost always cheaper and they’re the perfect excuse to go on a short visit to a country or city you wouldn’t have visited otherwise. For example, I deliberately chose a Scoot flight to Melbourne because it had a 21-hour transit in Sydney. Not only was it $80 cheaper than a direct flight to Melbourne, I also got a photo with the iconic Sydney Opera House!

6. Compare all your options
Taking some time to do a manual search for the cheapest flights will do your wallet a huge favour. Don’t take too long, though, as flights will only get more expensive with every passing day.

If that’s too time-consuming for you, we have technology to thank for all the many readily available travel apps that make our lives so much easier. Skyscanner and Hopper are wonderful tools that provide data-driven research in a click of a mouse, helping you to book the cheapest flights, hotels and vehicles hires.

7. Travel off-season
This is an obvious one, and one of the easiest ways to score a great bargain. An airline is a business after all, and operates on the universal law of supply-and-demand. There’s no demand during off-season periods, so prices go down! If you’re not too picky about destinations, take a trip somewhere that happens to be off-season. Going somewhere totally new and unexpected can be daunting but trust me, experiencing a city when the streets are flooded with rowdy tourists is something you’ll regret!

8. Collect mileage points
If you have a favourite airline and travel fairly often, it’s definitely a good idea to stay loyal and start collecting mileage points. Lots of airlines have loyalty systems to reward longtime customers. There’s no reason not to sign up for them (even if it means paying a small sum of money), because you’ll receive free seat upgrades and ticket discounts just for sticking to that particular airline! My favourite is Krisflyer, Singapore Airlines’ Frequent Flyer programme.

Got all that? Now go book the cheapest flight ever.

Hello hello hello, friends!! I’m suuuuuuper pumped for this post, since it’s something I’m very passionate about. Traveling is my very favorite thing in the world, and I believe that money (or lack thereof) should never hold you back from leading a life full of adventures! Flights are often the most expensive part of a trip, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get a little creative with our booking! However, it usually requires some flexibility. But I’m going to talk more about that below! These are a few of the ways that I get the best deals when booking my air travel.

If you want to save this post for later, feel free to pin the image below!

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Skyscanner

This is the best app/website if you’re looking to just go wherever, whenever it’s cheapest! You can enter whatever airport you’ll be flying out of and see where you can fly to on the low low. For example, just for fun, I said I would be flying out of NYC in February and it told me I could fly to Paris round trip for under $250! How cool is that?! If you have a particular month you want to travel, you can select that entire month. Or if you don’t care when you go, select “anytime!” It’s that easy! I would recommend downloading the app, since it’s more user friendly than the website, in my opinion.

Google Flights

This may seem obvious, but I didn’t take advantage of GF until just a couple of years ago! My favorite thing is that it shows you a view of each month with exactly how much it’ll be to fly out/in on each individual day. It does several of the same things Skyscanner does, but that is the main difference I have found.

Southwest App

I can never say enough good things about Southwest! I flew them for the first time almost a year ago, and they’ve been my favorite airline ever since. As far as brand partnerships go, I gotta say they’re at the top of my “in your dreams” list. ONE DAY, GUYS. Anyway. Something weird! Southwest, for some reason (I think it’s because they don’t assign seats, but don’t quote me on that), doesn’t show up in the Google Flights search. Well, it does, but at the bottom, because their prices don’t register with GF, apparently?? Dumb. Basically you should ALWAYS check their app/website when comparing prices because they are OFTEN considerably lower than their competitors!

Scott’s Cheap Flights

Okay, this is one that I haven’t been able to take full advantage of yet, but I can’t wait to! SCF is this incredible service that sends you flight deals every single day. It’s run by real people, working to find prices up to 90% off normal ones! When they do, they email you to let you know. They’ll tell you where/when you can go and for how much (including baggage fees!), plus how long the deal will last and who the airline is. The best part? It’s FREE. That is, as long as you’re willing to miss out on some of those mistake fares and crazy deals 1/5th of the time. Note: I am, at the moment, just doing the free version. But I have a feeling that will change sometime this year.

Hopper

This little app was a LIFESAVER when it came to booking my Hawaii flights at just the right time! It would let me know any time the trip I was watching would go up or down in price, AND tell me whether I should wait or book now. I don’t know how they know these things. But they know. And I reap the benefits.

Those are my favorite helpful tools, but here are some tips/tricks I’ve picked up along the way!

Think outside the box.

Until a couple of years ago, it never occurred to me that I could get two one way tickets instead of one roundtrip one! I know, I know, a very rookie mistake. But I had to say it in case there are any of you out there who might be in the same boat I was rowing! I always check to see if there’s a price difference between two one ways or one round trip. If it’s more than $10, you better believe I’m gonna split that trip between two different airlines! As a matter of fact, when I visited Hawaii last month, my trip went a little like this: Southwest to LAX, Hawaiian to Honolulu, then American to LAX, and Delta for my last flight home! That was what worked best for my schedule and my wallet. I was able to fly round trip to Hawaii from Memphis for under $600! And it could’ve been under $500, but I missed the boat on a flight (lol) I meant to book but waited on. Good things don’t always come to those who wait, folks!

Don’t forget the bags!

It’s super easy to just book your flights and then forget about the baggage fees until the day of. Believe me, I’ve been there. Make sure and check on the prices for each airline – they might have gone up since the last time you flew with them. Some even charge for a carry-on (*gives the side eye to Spirit*)! This is yet another reason why I love Southwest! Two free checked bags AND a free carry-on for every. single. flight. For an over-packer like me, it doesn’t get better than that!

Do your research.

There are airlines who charge you to print your boarding pass at the airport. Who charge BIG fees for overweight bags. Who don’t serve anything to eat or drink in-flight. Who have consistently late departure/arrival times. Decide if it’s worth it to you to have a dreadful travel experience in order to save a few bucks. The choice is yours!

Be flexible.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought a destination was out of the question… until I looked at flight prices for a completely different season! “Off seasons” aren’t the same everywhere, so if you have the option to choose whenever you go, check Skyscanner to see when would be the cheapest.

Top secret!

Okay, I can’t say for certain if this is true, but I’ve seen it over and over so I thought I would pass it on just in case! Apparently it is best if you clear your cookies or use “private browsing” mode each time you search for flights. Because, according to several sources, if the internet notices you repeatedly searching the same dates to the same place, it will jack up the price – tricking you into booking ASAP! Like I said, I don’t know this to be absolutely true, but what’s the harm in taking a little precaution?

Now you have them! All the tools in your tool belt. Weapons in your arsenal. Get on out there and book your next adventure!! And as always, please feel free to ask any burning questions you might have. I’m happy to answer them!

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6 Tips to Save Using the Most Popular Food Delivery Apps

Whether you’re traveling across the country to visit family or want a nice holiday vacation in a sunny place, the busy season from Thanksgiving through New Years’ Day can come with some of the year’s highest flight prices. But the good news is that you can find cheap holiday flights if you’re flexible with when and how you fly and if you can start planning your travels several months earlier. Even if you do need a last-minute flight though, you still have options to both get a cheaper flight ticket and save on airline fees. Use these seven tips to fly with less strain on your wallet this holiday season.

1. Be Flexible With Travel Dates

When you schedule flights to arrive or depart right before and after major holidays, you not only get to deal with more crowds but also delays. SmarterTravel lists Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (and the days around them) as some of the worst days to fly when you want to save money. So when you’re looking for Thanksgiving flights, for example, fly out at the beginning of the week rather than on the Wednesday before. You can try experimenting with departure and arrival dates when you look at holiday flights online to see what works best for your situation.

2. Know When to Book Flights

Generally, the sooner you can book your holiday flights, the more you can expect to save. So, it helps to be proactive if you can plan your trip ahead of time. For example, Skyscanner suggests October and the first few weeks of November as the best times to buy Christmas flights. Consumer Reports also suggests early September as the best time to buy Thanksgiving flights. While you might feel insecure booking so early in advance, you can always consider travelers insurance to reduce any risk.

3. Use Any Credit Card Benefits

You might not know that some of your credit cards could come with benefits that can cut airline fees or even give you free or reduced flights. Many cards allow you to earn points for purchases that you can later redeem toward flights and hotels online. Other travel credit cards can offer perks like free companion tickets, free checked bags, travel and baggage insurance, travel agent service and annual airline credit to use as you choose. So, be sure to check your card’s benefits before you book a flight this holiday season.

4. Check Flight Search Sites

You might feel tempted to just book with your usual airline’s website since it can take a long time to enter flight information and compare prices across multiple sites. But, with fare comparison sites like Skyscanner and Priceline, you can now easily see multiple flight prices in one place and maybe even negotiate your own rate. You simply fill in your flight details once and can see the cheapest options immediately. These tools also make it easy to take advantage of early or late flight times or options with at least one stop, both of which can save you money.

5. Explore Flight and Hotel Packages

You can further maximize your savings this holiday season if you pair cheap flights with lodging. Using a site like Hotwire, you can find all-inclusive holiday vacation packages that give you a cheap flight and discount on top hotel options in major cities like Los Angeles and Miami. You can also sort packages and do some customization to take advantage of an economical hotel, rental car and flight combination that will maximize your savings this season.

6. Consider a Low-Cost Airline

Low-cost airlines like Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines can save you big with limited-time promotions as well as their low everyday rates. These sites sometimes advertise one-way and round-trip flights that can cost you under $100 if you order your holiday flights ahead. However, do note that these flights often won’t have common amenities like in-flight meals. You’ll also encounter extra charges for ticket processing, seating and baggage. But this can be a good fit if you travel lightly and don’t mind an economical experience.

7. Seek Last-Minute Cheap Holiday Flights

If you missed out on the best window for cheap flights, all’s not lost. Travelocity and Expedia are among the many sites that offer last-minute travel deals that can help you score cheaper Christmas and Thanksgiving flights even if you only have a few days’ notice. For the best results, combine this tip with booking during off-peak days if possible. This will allow you to have the most variety of vacation packages available and get better savings when last-minute flights can run high.

With these tips, you’re ready to find cheap holiday flights. For the best results, stay flexible and don’t put off booking your Christmas or Thanksgiving flight too much longer. The sooner you take action, the more you’ll save, so start planning today!

Hello hello hello, friends!! I’m suuuuuuper pumped for this post, since it’s something I’m very passionate about. Traveling is my very favorite thing in the world, and I believe that money (or lack thereof) should never hold you back from leading a life full of adventures! Flights are often the most expensive part of a trip, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get a little creative with our booking! However, it usually requires some flexibility. But I’m going to talk more about that below! These are a few of the ways that I get the best deals when booking my air travel.

If you want to save this post for later, feel free to pin the image below!

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Skyscanner

This is the best app/website if you’re looking to just go wherever, whenever it’s cheapest! You can enter whatever airport you’ll be flying out of and see where you can fly to on the low low. For example, just for fun, I said I would be flying out of NYC in February and it told me I could fly to Paris round trip for under $250! How cool is that?! If you have a particular month you want to travel, you can select that entire month. Or if you don’t care when you go, select “anytime!” It’s that easy! I would recommend downloading the app, since it’s more user friendly than the website, in my opinion.

Google Flights

This may seem obvious, but I didn’t take advantage of GF until just a couple of years ago! My favorite thing is that it shows you a view of each month with exactly how much it’ll be to fly out/in on each individual day. It does several of the same things Skyscanner does, but that is the main difference I have found.

Southwest App

I can never say enough good things about Southwest! I flew them for the first time almost a year ago, and they’ve been my favorite airline ever since. As far as brand partnerships go, I gotta say they’re at the top of my “in your dreams” list. ONE DAY, GUYS. Anyway. Something weird! Southwest, for some reason (I think it’s because they don’t assign seats, but don’t quote me on that), doesn’t show up in the Google Flights search. Well, it does, but at the bottom, because their prices don’t register with GF, apparently?? Dumb. Basically you should ALWAYS check their app/website when comparing prices because they are OFTEN considerably lower than their competitors!

Scott’s Cheap Flights

Okay, this is one that I haven’t been able to take full advantage of yet, but I can’t wait to! SCF is this incredible service that sends you flight deals every single day. It’s run by real people, working to find prices up to 90% off normal ones! When they do, they email you to let you know. They’ll tell you where/when you can go and for how much (including baggage fees!), plus how long the deal will last and who the airline is. The best part? It’s FREE. That is, as long as you’re willing to miss out on some of those mistake fares and crazy deals 1/5th of the time. Note: I am, at the moment, just doing the free version. But I have a feeling that will change sometime this year.

Hopper

This little app was a LIFESAVER when it came to booking my Hawaii flights at just the right time! It would let me know any time the trip I was watching would go up or down in price, AND tell me whether I should wait or book now. I don’t know how they know these things. But they know. And I reap the benefits.

Those are my favorite helpful tools, but here are some tips/tricks I’ve picked up along the way!

Think outside the box.

Until a couple of years ago, it never occurred to me that I could get two one way tickets instead of one roundtrip one! I know, I know, a very rookie mistake. But I had to say it in case there are any of you out there who might be in the same boat I was rowing! I always check to see if there’s a price difference between two one ways or one round trip. If it’s more than $10, you better believe I’m gonna split that trip between two different airlines! As a matter of fact, when I visited Hawaii last month, my trip went a little like this: Southwest to LAX, Hawaiian to Honolulu, then American to LAX, and Delta for my last flight home! That was what worked best for my schedule and my wallet. I was able to fly round trip to Hawaii from Memphis for under $600! And it could’ve been under $500, but I missed the boat on a flight (lol) I meant to book but waited on. Good things don’t always come to those who wait, folks!

Don’t forget the bags!

It’s super easy to just book your flights and then forget about the baggage fees until the day of. Believe me, I’ve been there. Make sure and check on the prices for each airline – they might have gone up since the last time you flew with them. Some even charge for a carry-on (*gives the side eye to Spirit*)! This is yet another reason why I love Southwest! Two free checked bags AND a free carry-on for every. single. flight. For an over-packer like me, it doesn’t get better than that!

Do your research.

There are airlines who charge you to print your boarding pass at the airport. Who charge BIG fees for overweight bags. Who don’t serve anything to eat or drink in-flight. Who have consistently late departure/arrival times. Decide if it’s worth it to you to have a dreadful travel experience in order to save a few bucks. The choice is yours!

Be flexible.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought a destination was out of the question… until I looked at flight prices for a completely different season! “Off seasons” aren’t the same everywhere, so if you have the option to choose whenever you go, check Skyscanner to see when would be the cheapest.

Top secret!

Okay, I can’t say for certain if this is true, but I’ve seen it over and over so I thought I would pass it on just in case! Apparently it is best if you clear your cookies or use “private browsing” mode each time you search for flights. Because, according to several sources, if the internet notices you repeatedly searching the same dates to the same place, it will jack up the price – tricking you into booking ASAP! Like I said, I don’t know this to be absolutely true, but what’s the harm in taking a little precaution?

Now you have them! All the tools in your tool belt. Weapons in your arsenal. Get on out there and book your next adventure!! And as always, please feel free to ask any burning questions you might have. I’m happy to answer them!

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Searching for the cheapest airfare may be the most popular way of deciding on a flight, but secret extras baked right into the ticket may bring extra value to your booking, no matter how much you paid.

Follow these three lessons to ensure that you’re maximizing the value of a travel booking for more than just the flight alone.

1. Know the code

A single letter of the alphabet lets the airline know where in the hierarchy of airfares your ticket ranks.

This is known as the fare basis code, and though passengers typically overlook it, this miniscule mark is the key to unlocking important information regarding your booking, including how easy it is to make a change to the ticket, how eligible you are for an upgrade and how many frequent flier miles may be earned.

Airlines do not make it easy to research fare codes, as they are often in the fine print, but taking an extra minute to locate and research what it means for your ticket can make all the difference.

Matthew Ma, co-founder of airfare sale website The Flight Deal, is an advocate for understanding fare codes, and makes a point of including the code information with each deal post.

As Ma tells CNN Travel: “Knowing the fare code means knowing whether or not the ticket you just purchased will earn frequent flier miles, which help you to see more of the world for less.”

Ma cites a flight he booked to Jordan as an example.

“Most of Royal Jordanian’s cheap fares are ‘R’ or ‘N’ fare codes, which earn no frequent flier miles in [its alliance partner] American Airlines’ program,” he says.

“When the airline offered a sale with higher ‘L’ fares on offer, I booked that, and I’ll earn American Airlines miles. This means miles for either future travel and upgrades, and a chance at elite status for further airline perks.”

While deciphering a fare code and what it means for your ticket may take a bit of squinting at your computer screen, there’s always the option to call the airline and have an agent explain the fare code and fare rules in plain terms.

They’ll also be able to advise on higher codes for the same flight, for a little more money, but potentially yielding more frequent flier miles and fewer change restrictions.

2. Schedule a stopover

In the realm of commercial air travel, there are layovers and there are stopovers.

A layover involves the typical rigamarole of getting off one flight, waiting a few hours at an interim airport, and boarding another flight to your destination. You may have time for a meal or to catch up on a good book, but layovers are hardly a vacation.

A stopover, on the other hand, is a full break between flights, where the passenger gets off of a flight at an airport, and has meaningful time, often multiple days, to explore that city before rejoining their itinerary to continue on to the true destination.

Stopovers essentially allow two-for-the-price-of-one trips.

“Paid tickets frequently let you add a stop in an airline’s hub either for free or for a modest extra charge,” notes Gary Leff, travel points guru and blogger at View From the Wing.

“Stopovers are even more valuable on award bookings as, for instance, you can have a free stop along the way, requiring no additional miles, but maybe modest extra airport taxes.

On my honeymoon, I visited both Tahiti and Australia for the same mileage required for just Australia. En route to Southeast Asia on another trip, I visited Dubai without spending extra miles or money, and had tea at the Burj al Arab.”

Some airlines promote their free stopover policies in the name of travel marketing, encouraging visitors to spend time (and money) in their hub.

For passengers flying Hawaiian Airlines from the US to Asia, the airline allows for multi-day stopovers in Honolulu. Similar policies exist for Emirates with Dubai, Icelandair with Reykjavik, Finnair with Helsinki, KLM with Amsterdam and Japan Airlines with Tokyo.

To discover if a free stopover is possible with your ticket, and get two destinations for the price of one, attempt a “multi-city” search on the airline’s website or call the airline to inquire about stopover rules on both paid or award tickets.

3. Save that boarding pass

The flight is over and you’ve claimed your luggage. That’s the end of it, right? Wrong, if that boarding pass you stuffed in your wallet is one from an airline offering post-flight discounts at destinations.

For example, fly Turkish Airlines to visit Petra, considered one of “new seven wonders of the world,” and show your boarding pass at the entrance gate for 15% off the $70 per person entrance fee.

In South Korea, Korean Air and Asiana compete to offer similarly valuable boarding passes, with discounts on admission to cultural performances and theme parks, gift cards to department stores, half-price rentals of Wi-Fi routers, and even 10% off “medical services” at a plastic surgery and dental center in Seoul.

Saving your boarding pass now means saving on the total of a tooth whitening regimen on the other side of the world.

The king of boarding passes-as-tickets to free experiences is undoubtedly Alaska Airlines, whose current wine tourism and ski vacationpromotions give passengers post-flight access to complimentary tastings at wineries in Oregon and Washington state, and free ski passes at 12 West Coast ski resorts.

“We encourage travelers to fly right into the resort town, rather than drive, and then use our boarding passes to jumpstart their ski vacation,” says Elliott Pesut, Alaska Airlines’ director of product marketing.

“The ski passes and the wine programs are such cool benefits for our guests. We know they’re passionate about these leisure activities, and we know that we can give them a great experience beyond the flight.”

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Searching for the cheapest airfare may be the most popular way of deciding on a flight, but secret extras baked right into the ticket may bring extra value to your booking, no matter how much you paid.

Follow these three lessons to ensure that you’re maximizing the value of a travel booking for more than just the flight alone.

1. Know the code

A single letter of the alphabet lets the airline know where in the hierarchy of airfares your ticket ranks.

This is known as the fare basis code, and though passengers typically overlook it, this miniscule mark is the key to unlocking important information regarding your booking, including how easy it is to make a change to the ticket, how eligible you are for an upgrade and how many frequent flier miles may be earned.

Airlines do not make it easy to research fare codes, as they are often in the fine print, but taking an extra minute to locate and research what it means for your ticket can make all the difference.

Matthew Ma, co-founder of airfare sale website The Flight Deal, is an advocate for understanding fare codes, and makes a point of including the code information with each deal post.

As Ma tells CNN Travel: “Knowing the fare code means knowing whether or not the ticket you just purchased will earn frequent flier miles, which help you to see more of the world for less.”

Ma cites a flight he booked to Jordan as an example.

“Most of Royal Jordanian’s cheap fares are ‘R’ or ‘N’ fare codes, which earn no frequent flier miles in [its alliance partner] American Airlines’ program,” he says.

“When the airline offered a sale with higher ‘L’ fares on offer, I booked that, and I’ll earn American Airlines miles. This means miles for either future travel and upgrades, and a chance at elite status for further airline perks.”

While deciphering a fare code and what it means for your ticket may take a bit of squinting at your computer screen, there’s always the option to call the airline and have an agent explain the fare code and fare rules in plain terms.

They’ll also be able to advise on higher codes for the same flight, for a little more money, but potentially yielding more frequent flier miles and fewer change restrictions.

2. Schedule a stopover

In the realm of commercial air travel, there are layovers and there are stopovers.

A layover involves the typical rigamarole of getting off one flight, waiting a few hours at an interim airport, and boarding another flight to your destination. You may have time for a meal or to catch up on a good book, but layovers are hardly a vacation.

A stopover, on the other hand, is a full break between flights, where the passenger gets off of a flight at an airport, and has meaningful time, often multiple days, to explore that city before rejoining their itinerary to continue on to the true destination.

Stopovers essentially allow two-for-the-price-of-one trips.

“Paid tickets frequently let you add a stop in an airline’s hub either for free or for a modest extra charge,” notes Gary Leff, travel points guru and blogger at View From the Wing.

“Stopovers are even more valuable on award bookings as, for instance, you can have a free stop along the way, requiring no additional miles, but maybe modest extra airport taxes.

On my honeymoon, I visited both Tahiti and Australia for the same mileage required for just Australia. En route to Southeast Asia on another trip, I visited Dubai without spending extra miles or money, and had tea at the Burj al Arab.”

Some airlines promote their free stopover policies in the name of travel marketing, encouraging visitors to spend time (and money) in their hub.

For passengers flying Hawaiian Airlines from the US to Asia, the airline allows for multi-day stopovers in Honolulu. Similar policies exist for Emirates with Dubai, Icelandair with Reykjavik, Finnair with Helsinki, KLM with Amsterdam and Japan Airlines with Tokyo.

To discover if a free stopover is possible with your ticket, and get two destinations for the price of one, attempt a “multi-city” search on the airline’s website or call the airline to inquire about stopover rules on both paid or award tickets.

3. Save that boarding pass

The flight is over and you’ve claimed your luggage. That’s the end of it, right? Wrong, if that boarding pass you stuffed in your wallet is one from an airline offering post-flight discounts at destinations.

For example, fly Turkish Airlines to visit Petra, considered one of “new seven wonders of the world,” and show your boarding pass at the entrance gate for 15% off the $70 per person entrance fee.

In South Korea, Korean Air and Asiana compete to offer similarly valuable boarding passes, with discounts on admission to cultural performances and theme parks, gift cards to department stores, half-price rentals of Wi-Fi routers, and even 10% off “medical services” at a plastic surgery and dental center in Seoul.

Saving your boarding pass now means saving on the total of a tooth whitening regimen on the other side of the world.

The king of boarding passes-as-tickets to free experiences is undoubtedly Alaska Airlines, whose current wine tourism and ski vacationpromotions give passengers post-flight access to complimentary tastings at wineries in Oregon and Washington state, and free ski passes at 12 West Coast ski resorts.

“We encourage travelers to fly right into the resort town, rather than drive, and then use our boarding passes to jumpstart their ski vacation,” says Elliott Pesut, Alaska Airlines’ director of product marketing.

“The ski passes and the wine programs are such cool benefits for our guests. We know they’re passionate about these leisure activities, and we know that we can give them a great experience beyond the flight.”

Travel Tips

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Getting a bargain on plane tickets requires advance planning. (Photo: Stephanie White/Photodisc/Getty Images )

Related Articles

  • The Best Time to Book Air Travel
  • How to Get Cheap Airline Tickets to Europe
  • How to Find Cheap Air Tickets
  • Air Fare Trends and Advice

Getting a bargain on plane fare may seem like trying to pull a rabbit from a magician’s hat, but more strategy is involved than magic. It helps to be flexible in your plans, since it’s unlikely that your ideal travel day and time will offer a bargain basement price. It also helps to understand how airlines set fares also helps. With a bit of advance planning and research, you can purchase a seat at the lowest possible price.

Time of Day

The time of day can make a significant impact on the price of your plane ticket. In general, airlines offer their cheapest flights during business hours, when value-minded business travelers are booking flights. The best single time and day to book a flight is 3 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. Early morning or late-night flights are less popular, and therefore cheaper. Purchasing a “red-eye” flight where you take off at night and arrive the next morning may also save you money.

Days of the Week

If you can be flexible on when you fly, you can also save money. Whenever possible, purchase your tickets for Wednesday, Tuesday or Saturday, in that order. Friday and Sunday are the most expensive days to fly. If you must fly during the busy holiday season, try booking your flight for the actual day of the holiday, for instance, Christmas Day or Thanksgiving Day. Not only will you save money, the airport will probably be less crowded and the atmosphere more relaxed.

Advance Booking

Booking ahead of time is also important, especially if your flight dates are firm or you are traveling during the holidays. The days of scoring deep discounts for last-minute holiday flights have passed. You’ll do better booking flights eight weeks in advance. If you can’t commit that far ahead, book at least a month in advance, otherwise the best fares may be sold out. At a minimum, book your fare at least 14 days in advance, when most airlines offer their lowest fares.

Tools and Strategies

Take advantage of technology to keep track of airline sales and fare drops. Set up “agents” from various airlines and search engines to provide email notices of bargain fares. Research fares from various sources to determine what a bargain fare should be. Especially if fares are volatile, advance knowledge of whether a fare is actually a bargain will allow you to make your purchase during a down phase of a fare.

  • “The Wall Street Journal”; Whatever You Do, Don’t Buy an Airline Ticket On … ; Scott McCartney; January 2011
  • FareCompare; Cheapest Days to Fly and Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets; Rick Seaney; March 2011
  • Consumerist.com: The Best Time To Buy Tickets, Explained By Smarty Man; Rick Seaney; August 2006
  • FreeShipping.org: The Best Time to Buy Guide for 87 Products and Services; April 2010
  • Airport Explorer: Find Cheap Flights — Best Sites and Tips for Finding the Lowest Airfare
  • Bing Travel: How Bing Travel Works
  • Sound Money Tips: Tip For Best Purchase Time of Airline Tickets; August 2008

Chris Blank is an independent writer and research consultant with more than 20 years’ experience. Blank specializes in social policy analysis, current events, popular culture and travel. His work has appeared both online and in print publications. He holds a Master of Arts in sociology and a Juris Doctor.

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Story by

Juan Buis

Story by

Juan Buis

Juan Buis is TNW’s Digital Culture Reporter, and you should click here. Juan Buis is TNW’s Digital Culture Reporter, and you should click here.

Every time I board a plane, I’m probably the one who paid the least for his ticket. Not because of luck, but thanks to careful planning and booking.

Last year, I flew from Amsterdam to Tokyo and back for only $370.

Shocked? Jealous? Don’t be — I’m going to show you exactly how to do it, too.

Break away from the pack

Accelerate your brand through strategic growth marketing

Airfare might seem like a complex system, regulated by algorithms designed to make sure you’re always paying the optimal price. Part of that is true — airlines are definitely trying to squeeze as many dollars out of you as possible.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to beat the system. You just have to be flexible, smart and invest a little bit of time to make sure you’re getting the best seats for the best price.

Be flexible

One of the most important rules to cheap airfare is to be very, very flexible.

If you want to go to Spain in the middle of summer to catch some sun, yeah, you’re going to pay a higher price. That doesn’t mean you can’t go to warm places — you just have to let go of set dates.

Not having a specific time in mind, means you’re able to jump on whatever great deal you may find. That takes us to the next point, being:

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Wait for the best deal

Flight prices fluctuate constantly, so the best deals pop up randomly. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out for the really good stuff.

These ‘super deals’ can happen for a plethora of reasons – temporary promotions, a new flight path from a particular airport, a dip in visits to a certain destination.

For example: When Chinese airline Xiamen Air started flying to Schiphol airport here in Amsterdam, the flights from their home country were packed. However, as no one knew of the airline in the Netherlands, the flights back were sold on their website at an extreme discount.

Some of these deals can be hard to find, so it’s good to watch fare tracking websites like Skiplagged, The Flight Deal, TravelZoo and Travel Pirates.

Use the right tools

If you want to book flights like a pro, you’re going to need the very best tools.

Luckily there are a lot of services that can help you in your quest. The most important is Google Flights – my favorite way to find and compare flight prices.

It’s extremely easy to use. Start off by filling in your home airport and destination, and then browse around to see what’s available. If you already know when and where you want to go, just fill in everything to check for the best price. Even when you’ve found a great deal though, it’s good idea to double check if you’re paying the best price.

Also, make sure to use the price alert option to stay on top of the best deals at all times.

Google Flights often has the right prices in their system, but it might be worth it to also use tools like Skyscanner or Hipmunk.

Regardless where you find the deal, it’s always better to book directly through the airline’s website, not through a third party. They’ll gladly add something like a $20-30 ‘booking fee’, that you won’t get charged otherwise.

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Sign up for a frequent flyer program

This is where the game gets (semi-)professional, but the rewards get bigger too.

Every time you book a flight, you’re earning miles that can be redeemed for free flights or upgrades. At the same time, you’re gaining status that give you extra perks like faster boarding and check-in.

It’s important to pick a program that serves your home airport and has great connections to destinations you often visit. These connections can also be made through the airline’s partners in the same alliance. There are three global alliances: SkyTeam, OneWorld and Star Alliance.

As long as you’re taking flights with airlines from the same alliance as your frequent flyer alliance, you’re earning miles.

Loyalty matters. If you’re not flying with the airlines in the alliance a lot, you’re not earning miles or status.

Not sure which program to pick? Check out Flyertalk forums for advice.

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Sign up for an airline credit card

After you’ve started earning miles, it’s easy to get a bit greedy.

The quickest way to more miles (read: Free flights) is to get a co-branded credit card. Most frequent flyer programs offer one, making you earn miles with every dollar you spend.

The one I’m using is the AMEX Flying Blue Gold Card, as it’s tied to my KLM Flying Blue account. If you’re a member of Flying Blue it’s the best choice — otherwise, check out the options with your own program.

Travel!

And there you go: You’re now booking and flying like a true digital nomad, using the best tools at your disposal.

Now go explore, work or live anywhere.

Do you use different tricks or strategies when planning your flights? Let us know in the comments.

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

How to get the cheapest flight every single time

Searching for the cheapest airfare may be the most popular way of deciding on a flight, but secret extras baked right into the ticket may bring extra value to your booking, no matter how much you paid.

Follow these three lessons to ensure that you’re maximizing the value of a travel booking for more than just the flight alone.

1. Know the code

A single letter of the alphabet lets the airline know where in the hierarchy of airfares your ticket ranks.

This is known as the fare basis code, and though passengers typically overlook it, this miniscule mark is the key to unlocking important information regarding your booking, including how easy it is to make a change to the ticket, how eligible you are for an upgrade and how many frequent flier miles may be earned.

Airlines do not make it easy to research fare codes, as they are often in the fine print, but taking an extra minute to locate and research what it means for your ticket can make all the difference.

Matthew Ma, co-founder of airfare sale website The Flight Deal, is an advocate for understanding fare codes, and makes a point of including the code information with each deal post.

As Ma tells CNN Travel: “Knowing the fare code means knowing whether or not the ticket you just purchased will earn frequent flier miles, which help you to see more of the world for less.”

Ma cites a flight he booked to Jordan as an example.

“Most of Royal Jordanian’s cheap fares are ‘R’ or ‘N’ fare codes, which earn no frequent flier miles in [its alliance partner] American Airlines’ program,” he says.

“When the airline offered a sale with higher ‘L’ fares on offer, I booked that, and I’ll earn American Airlines miles. This means miles for either future travel and upgrades, and a chance at elite status for further airline perks.”

While deciphering a fare code and what it means for your ticket may take a bit of squinting at your computer screen, there’s always the option to call the airline and have an agent explain the fare code and fare rules in plain terms.

They’ll also be able to advise on higher codes for the same flight, for a little more money, but potentially yielding more frequent flier miles and fewer change restrictions.

2. Schedule a stopover

In the realm of commercial air travel, there are layovers and there are stopovers.

A layover involves the typical rigamarole of getting off one flight, waiting a few hours at an interim airport, and boarding another flight to your destination. You may have time for a meal or to catch up on a good book, but layovers are hardly a vacation.

A stopover, on the other hand, is a full break between flights, where the passenger gets off of a flight at an airport, and has meaningful time, often multiple days, to explore that city before rejoining their itinerary to continue on to the true destination.

Stopovers essentially allow two-for-the-price-of-one trips.

“Paid tickets frequently let you add a stop in an airline’s hub either for free or for a modest extra charge,” notes Gary Leff, travel points guru and blogger at View From the Wing.

“Stopovers are even more valuable on award bookings as, for instance, you can have a free stop along the way, requiring no additional miles, but maybe modest extra airport taxes.

On my honeymoon, I visited both Tahiti and Australia for the same mileage required for just Australia. En route to Southeast Asia on another trip, I visited Dubai without spending extra miles or money, and had tea at the Burj al Arab.”

Some airlines promote their free stopover policies in the name of travel marketing, encouraging visitors to spend time (and money) in their hub.

For passengers flying Hawaiian Airlines from the US to Asia, the airline allows for multi-day stopovers in Honolulu. Similar policies exist for Emirates with Dubai, Icelandair with Reykjavik, Finnair with Helsinki, KLM with Amsterdam and Japan Airlines with Tokyo.

To discover if a free stopover is possible with your ticket, and get two destinations for the price of one, attempt a “multi-city” search on the airline’s website or call the airline to inquire about stopover rules on both paid or award tickets.

3. Save that boarding pass

The flight is over and you’ve claimed your luggage. That’s the end of it, right? Wrong, if that boarding pass you stuffed in your wallet is one from an airline offering post-flight discounts at destinations.

For example, fly Turkish Airlines to visit Petra, considered one of “new seven wonders of the world,” and show your boarding pass at the entrance gate for 15% off the $70 per person entrance fee.

In South Korea, Korean Air and Asiana compete to offer similarly valuable boarding passes, with discounts on admission to cultural performances and theme parks, gift cards to department stores, half-price rentals of Wi-Fi routers, and even 10% off “medical services” at a plastic surgery and dental center in Seoul.

Saving your boarding pass now means saving on the total of a tooth whitening regimen on the other side of the world.

The king of boarding passes-as-tickets to free experiences is undoubtedly Alaska Airlines, whose current wine tourism and ski vacationpromotions give passengers post-flight access to complimentary tastings at wineries in Oregon and Washington state, and free ski passes at 12 West Coast ski resorts.

“We encourage travelers to fly right into the resort town, rather than drive, and then use our boarding passes to jumpstart their ski vacation,” says Elliott Pesut, Alaska Airlines’ director of product marketing.

“The ski passes and the wine programs are such cool benefits for our guests. We know they’re passionate about these leisure activities, and we know that we can give them a great experience beyond the flight.”