How to Find the Best Air Travel Deals Online

Snagging a great deal on your airline ticket is sometimes the linchpin to making an entire destination possible. Since you’re likely shelling out the most bucks for this aspect of your trip, it makes sense to do your due diligence and lock in the best pricing possible.

With that said, it’s not always as easy as hopping on Expedia and trusting that the best deal will be prominently displayed for you. But if you follow these five simple steps, you’ll be flying low (cost, that is).

Keep your searches on the DL
No, you’re not crazy; that air travel website is exactly as shady as your last ex. They’ll use the cookies in your browser history to jack up the price of a repeatedly-searched flight route, trying to trick you into booking quickly before prices theoretically jump higher. Keep all your searches in incognito or private browsing mode to beat the system.

Be flexible
If you’re not married to your itinerary, you’re likely to land a better deal on your airfare. Depending on the size of the city you’re traveling to, sometimes you can choose from two or even three airports located in relative proximity to one another. Make sure you look at all of them to avoid missing a great deal right next door.

Know which days are cheapest to fly on
For domestic flights, that’s typically Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. For international itineraries, flying during the week is usually going to be more affordable than on a weekend. Play around with dates (in your incognito browser windows, natch) to make sure you’re not missing out on an epic deal by flying out 24 hours sooner.

Consider booking legs separately
One roundtrip ticket that includes all your connections might be the most convenient option, but it’s not always the best deal. Spend some time researching one way flights in and out of the airports on your route; you might be able to save a bundle by booking separate one-way tickets. Just watch your connection time—when you’re transferring airlines, you’ll have to collect your own luggage and recheck it and you’re also at the mercy of delayed and canceled flights. Given the degree of risk, this is an ideal option if you could add a night or two at the halfway point.

Cross compare sites
Different sites cater to different locations, so checking just one isn’t necessarily going to be the best bang for your buck. Skyscanner is a great option with a mobile-friendly app, but don’t forget to check with the budget airlines serving your destination—a lot of the bigger search engines omit those. Skiplagged is also a great resource, offering flights that are so inexpensive (they expose loopholes in airfare pricing) that the airlines don’t want you to see them. They were even sued by United Airlines. . .and won. 

Have a tip we missed? Let us know in the comments below!


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