12 Ways to Find Cheap Flights in 2022
It’s no question that booking airfare can be the most daunting part of trip planning. There are endless options, many of which come with a hefty price tag. Finding the best flight for you at the lowest possible price can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Today I’ll be sharing with you my top tips on how to find cheap flights in 2021.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
1.) Diversify your flight search engines
While Google Flights might be a good place to start, it shouldn’t be the only place you look. As a matter of fact, you should use multiple search engines before deciding on a flight. My personal favorite is Skyscanner. Skyscanner filters prices from over 1,200 airlines to give you the cheapest options. Their most valuable feature in my opinion is the calendar tool, which allows you to search for flights based off of the “cheapest month”, (an awesome tool if you have flexible dates), and to see what days are the cheapest to travel.
Step 1: Put in your departure and destination cities and choose the “cheapest month” option from the “depart” box. Let’s use the Houston -> London route as an example.
Step 2: Use the calendar to decide which dates you want to fly. Green indicates cheaper than normal prices, yellow indicates moderate, and red indicates that prices are more expensive than normal.
I have to point out one final feature from Skyscanner that I’ve found to be immensely useful recently. The COVID-19 Travel Info Live Map. Skyscanner has a map feature that is regularly updated to indicate what countries currently have restrictions on travel from the country you’re flying from. Just set your location, and see where you can or cannot travel, local requirements, and what documents you need to board the plane.
- The Hopper app is another extremely useful flight booking tool if you’re planning your trip a little bit in advance. Hopper uses algorithms to scan flight prices and predict which days will be the cheapest to buy a ticket. Their website claims that they have 95% accuracy predicting future flight and hotel prices. If I know I’m traveling at least two months in advance, I always set a price alert on Hopper. I then get notified when the flight I’m watching drops to below average prices, telling me when it’s the best time to purchase the ticket.
- Momondo searches a huge number of airlines globally to find the cheapest possible ticket. It’s similar to Skyscanner and I usually toggle between the two to see which has the cheapest rate. However, Skyscanner’s Covid Map is what currently puts it a step above in my opinion.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights is the impulsive and adventurous traveler’s dream. You set up an account with a list of airports you want to fly from, and you will receive emails whenever there’s a deal that’s just too good to be true. The Scott’s Cheap Flight’s Team scans flight deals to flag whenever a fair is mistakenly posted to low (major win for you), or when prices have dropped far below the average.
*Southwest Airlines does not share data with third party booking sites so we recommend checking Southwest separately to be sure you’re not missing out on any bargain deals*
2.) Look for Student Discounts
You may have not known that student discounts go further than half price pizza at your college town dive bar. They exist for airlines too! And they are plentiful. Oftentimes airlines won’t advertise student rates up front so you have to dig a bit to find any discounts they might offer. Student Universe is a great place to start your search. They partner with major airlines like United Airlines, British Airways, and Air China, to bring you affordable flights at student rates. Student Universe stands out when it comes to finding cheap international flights. I truly miss being able to take advantage of their deals while in college.
Other major airlines offering student discounts include:
- American Airlines Vacations (discounts to select U.S. colleges with an accompanying hotel package).
- Lufthansa Generation Fly Program (offers discounts to students enrolled in U.S. colleges and people 25 and younger).
- Delta Airlines (a Student Universe partner)
- Air France (Between the ages of 12-24 or a student up to 26 years-old)
Tip: Keep an eye out for Student Universe promo codes. Create an account with them to get deals sent straight to your inbox.
3.) Mix and Match your Airlines
It’s easy and time effective to book through one airline. But do yourself a favor and check the cost of one way tickets! I will frequently find that it’s overall cheaper to purchase two one-ways rather than a round-trip flight! Skyscanner often mixes and matches flights for you, but it’s never a bad idea to check for yourself. The algorithms change flight prices so often that you never know what you may find!
4.) Search using a VPN if you have one
A VPN is a powerful tool to begin with and I highly suggest using it to score cheap flights if you have one. A VPN essentially allows you to change your IP Address to another location while keeping your browsing history completely anonymous. So for example, as I’m sitting in Houston writing this article while simultaneously scrolling through flights to Maui this summer, I can change my IP address to New Delhi, India, and search for flights viewing the flight costs as they would display to any person who is actually in New Delhi. Cool right? So how does this turn into cheap flights?
Well depending on where you’re located your flight prices might be cheaper than in other countries. This is because airlines price flights related to average income in countries where they’re selling, and how much people are willing to pay. Like any other industry, they’re governed by the laws of supply and demand. So naturally, prices will be higher if you’re buying from the United States, vs. a less wealthy country.
5.) Search Using Incognito Mode
There’s a lot of debate on if searching in incognito mode really leads to cheaper flight prices. In my experience, it varies. Sometimes I’m given two different prices, sometimes they’re the same. Whenever I do notice a difference it’s usually no more than $20. But hey! Any savings count right? Even if it doesn’t work 75% of the time, I still think it’s worth checking.
6.) Break up legs of your trip
Sometimes flights with layovers can be cheaper. I know that nobody loves a layover, but if can save you a significant amount of money then I would say it’s definitely an idea to entertain. I’m not personally opposed to a long layover. Some of my favorite travel memories have taken place as a result of unexpected or longer than planned layovers. I once had a 8 hour layover in the San Salvadoran airport and used the time to hike a volcanic crater in one of the country’s national parks. Think of it as a mini vacation to complement your main vacation!
7.) Befriend Budget Airlines
Some people have an aversion to budget airlines. I personally love them. While I might not choose a cramped middle seat on a flight from the U.S. to Australia, for shorter and medium length flights I think it’s completely worth it. I will gladly sacrifice the extra legroom if it means getting to enjoy more activities on my vacation with the money I’ve saved.
Use our list of budget airlines by location to help you plan your next trip:
8. Look at flying into different airports near your destination
When planning a flight it’s easy to limit your search solely to the city you're visiting. If you’re not familiar with the area you’re headed to, you could miss out on significantly cheaper flights into airports that are only a short drive away from your destination.
For example, when I fly into Miami I ALWAYS fly into the Fort Lauderdale airport rather than Miami’s main airport. I’ve saved over $200 on trips doing this and it’s only a 30 minute drive into Miami from Fort Lauderdale, and Uber and taxis regularly make the trip.
9.) Set Price Alerts
This should go without being said. Setting a price alert on flights you’re watching can seriously pay off. Apps like Momondo, SkyScanner, and Hopper will send messages directly to your phone with a flight’s price has dropped to its lowest. Track your desired flight, step away from the computer, and get a notification when it’s the best time to book. Need I say more?
10.) Have flexible dates as much as you can
I know that not all of us can pick up and leave whenever we want. But if you have any flexibility in your schedule, even if it’s just 1-2 weeks, it pays to not be married to a specific itinerary. For instance, flying out on a Friday will usually cost you exponentially more than flying out on a Monday or Tuesday. Keep your options open, your bank account will thank you,
11.) If you are heading to a major tourist destination fly into the 2nd closest airport
This goes hand-in-hand with tip #8. Tourism hubs like Paris, Barcelona, Bali, know that they are in high demand. So you can guarantee that they will charge for it. Oftentimes locations like this rely on tourists not knowing the local area, and relying on what the popular knowledge is on the destination. There are a lot of countries that have major international airports that are extremely close to each other; with one usually offering much lower fares than the other. Let me give you an example.
A few years back I was intent on visiting the Mayan ruins in Flores, Guatemala. (It’s an incredible experience I highly recommend). Flights into the Flores were few and far between and insanely expensive since it’s such a small airport. The only other airport in Guatemala is the main airport in Guatemala City which is 9 hours away from Flores! NO WAY! So, I did my research and found that the Belize City airport was only three hours away from the archeological sites in Tikal. In fact, so many Tikal visitors fly into Belize city (due to the cheaper cost), that there was even a regular bus that picked me up and took me directly to Flores for the grand total of $20USD.
12.) Planning Ahead (sort of)
While planning ahead can pay off, planning too far ahead could actually hurt you in the long run. Airlines adjust their prices based off of how many seats they’ve booked. That means that about two months before the date you’re planning to travel, you will usually see a sharp drop in fares. Airlines do this to fill their remaining seats with more budget minded travelers. On the flip-side, don’t wait too long after the magic two month mark, airlines will spike prices to take advantage of the procrastinators and last-minute travelers.
I hope that this list of tips on how to score cheap flights helps you plan your next adventure! Remember, that no one of these methods alone will typically land you a cheap flight. The best deals will be found when you use a combination of the above tactics when planning your next trip.