The art of finding the cheapest flight

Every time I tell my friends how much I've paid for my flight tickets they look at me in disbelief. 'How do you afford all those travels? Flights must be so expensive!' - honestly, I've heard that so many times. Traveling doesn't have to be expensive if luxurious getaway isn't what you're looking for (there's nothing wrong with expensive traveling if that's your thing though). I actually find it cheaper than settling down somewhere with all the rent payments, council taxes and other daily spenditures. So if you're interested in mastering the art of finding affordable flights, this post might be just what you need!

Stunning view over Mexico City on my way to Guadalajara in early 2018

1. Research

Never underestimate the importance of good research, whether it is for work or finding a cheap flight! If you're flexible with your dates, there are plenty of good websites that show you when is the best time to buy certain tickets. They also advertise special seasonal offers (finding decent cheap fares that way is super easy-peasy). 

However, if you're looking for specific dates only I highly recommend investing some of your time into extensive web research. Start with cheap flight finders, such as SkyScanner or Kayak (my personal favourite). Check what you can find through such websites and compare which one offers a deal that suits you best. Once you've nailed that down, do yourself a favour and check that price against the price offered directly on the airline's website. Sometimes it turns out to be almost identical or even slightly cheaper and buying directly from the airline is always the safest choice. If the best fare you've managed to find is offered through a 3rd party provider (such as a travel agent) make sure to check its reviews online before paying for anything. Most of the providers, even the ones with super tacky websites, turn out to be perfectly reliable but it's better to be safe than sorry! Ever heard of the 'cheap flight horror stories'? Exactly.

2. Do some local research

Seriously, I can't stress enough how crucial good research is if you want to save some money before and during your trip. If you find yourself looking for short-haul flights while already traveling (like hopping from one European country to another), look up what are the budget airlines available in your area. I know that some of you might be quite reluctant to even consider budget airlines due to their alleged lack of comfort but honestly, they are not that bad at all. If you don't expect to be treated like in Business Class and remember that you get what you pay for (even more at times actually!) then you have absolutely nothing to fear. 

Being aware of the budget airlines options in your area can be a major game changer for your travel itenary. Check which ones are the most popular among the locals on your desired routes and enjoy getting from A to B for a fair price. Also, an extra tip from me on that matter would be to always buy a ticket directly from the airline if flying with a budget one. They tend to set their prices so low already that it's really not worth the effort of trying to find it even cheaper. And it's the safest option in case anything with your plans goes wrong. 

3. Lower your expectations

As we're talking about budget airlines already, another tip from me would be to lower your flight experience expectations. While it's important to get some decent leg room etc. on the long-haul flights, there are also things that don't actually matter that much in terms of your flight comfort if you approach it with the right mindset. 

Speaking from experience, the in-flight facilities and entertainment quality usually differs only from Business Class level and up. When flying Economy Class, most airlines offer pretty much the same standard on the long distance flights, with few little exceptions. The rest of the price is the magic of marketing and airline brand status - exactly the same way it works with other brands (Apple's brand loyalty anyone?). If you're worried about your comfort on a short budget airline flight, try thinking about it this way: If I can deal with ridiculously packed and badly air conditioned trains or sweaty coaches... then 2 hours in a tiny Ryanair seat should be a piece of cake!

4. Don't rush it

Obviously it's really nice to fly direct but if your final destination is quite far then how about choosing a connecting flight? Long distance direct routes are usually quite costly. While some might argue that you're paying for the comfort and convenience of dealing with one flight only (nothing wrong with that if you can afford it), I personally like to ask myself 'am I in a rush?' in that situation. 

If you have decided to go traveling and you're going away for weeks, months or even years then are those 3 extra hours saved by choosing a direct flight going to make any difference? Also, it all comes down to a personal preference but I actually like to have a little stop-over somewhere in the middle. It's a great opportunity to stretch your legs, get some air and brag about spending a few hours in, for example, Dubai later! Another big con of choosing connecting flights is that a lot of good airlines offer very affordable fares on connections, meaning you can get all the comfort you want if you're willing to sacrifice a bit of your time.

5. Set your budget

What I tend to do before looking up my flight options I try to estimate how much I think the journey to my destination should cost. With that budget in mind I then try to find offers that match my 'dream price' best.

It's important to be realistic when imagining your ideal budget - don't expect to find a flight from London to Hanoi for £25 (what a perfect world would that be!?). I usually set my dream price somewhere in between £250 and a price of a direct ticket on my desired route. So for example, I have estimated that for me a London to Tokyo journey would ideally cost no more than £450 (with return). And following that little rule of mine I have managed to never pay more than £400 for a return ticket to Japan.

Surprisingly aesthetic view at Manchester Airport around 4am

That's it from me on that topic - I really hope some of you will find it useful! I'm aware that not everything I do in my pursuit of cheap flights might be doable for everyone but the main message I wanted to communicate here is that if you look hard enough and put yourself in the right mindset, things are not as scary or intimidating as they might seem like at first! Remember, any option is good as long as it suits you and your needs. Safe flights everyone!

Comments

  1. Very good insight in to getting a better deal during air booking. Enjoyed reading it.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the read! Hope you've found it useful!

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