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Booking a flight is about as fun as going to the dentist. No one wants to do it if they don't have to do it, and in most cases, people don't always feel like they got the best possible price for the tickets they buy.
Sometimes, flying is inevitable. Even so, if you want to take a trip anywhere abroad, chances are that you're going to have to book a trip on your own. Heck, you should travel young at least once, just so that you can see the world.
However, there is some good news about booking flights that you should know. You don't have to go at it alone, and if you know what you're doing, you will have the cheapest possible tickets out there.
This is one of those times where listening to veteran travelers can really pay off, literally. The following expert-approved flight booking lifehacks will help you get airline tickets at a massive discount.
Time your purchase.
This is one of the easiest lifehacks when booking flights you can use—and it's also one of the most popular, too. If you really think about it, this hack is pretty common knowledge by now.
Everyone knows that you should avoid booking a flight within the week leading up to it, because that's when the price of the tickets tends to skyrocket. Most flight tickets are cheapened 30 to 90 days before the flight is supposed to happen.
Some search engines, like Kayak, take timing to the next level by showing you what the historical prices of tickets are so that you can figure out if you should wait a little while longer or just snap those tickets up.
Check connecting flights.
Sometimes, it's cheaper to set off from a major airport, to a lesser known airport, and then finish the trip to your destination from there. Don't be afraid of connecting flights—even if it means a little extra traveling to do.
A lot of flight sites will have tickets with multiple connections, but don't just limit yourself to those options. It's okay to book your own multi-trip. We also suggest you look up "hidden city" booking, just in case. In some cases, skipping the final leg of a connecting flight is cheaper than just going directly there.
Set up price alerts for your phone.
Smartphones sure are great inventions, aren't they? They allow you to maintain just about everything you could possibly want, right at your fingertips. This is also true when it comes to booking your flights.
Some apps that are linked to airline companies, such as Google Flights, allow you to set up price alerts for cheaper tickets. Other sites, like Airfare Watchdog, do the same and will shoot an email to you when prices get low.
Set up a little leeway for your travel plans.
It's oh, so easy to get stuck in this idea that you can make the airline industry bend to your will. In an ideal world, this would be true. You would be able to make demands of the industry and make it possible to save money on a flight.
However, if you are looking to save money in the real world, you're going to have to be flexible. Don't be afraid to land in a different airport, or fly during a time which might not be as convenient as your ideal hour. You may save a lot of money by doing so.
Statistically, there are still some times that are a bit more affordable than others.
Flying midweek is typically cheaper than flying on the weekends, with the most affordable day to book tickets usually being Tuesday. Those simple flight booking lifehacks are good to use year-round, but there's more to timing than just that...
Here are some important things to remember when you're looking to book a trip on the cheap.
- Winter flights are cheapest from January to March, with an exception around Valentine's Day.
- Summer flights are often the most expensive, period.
- Try to avoid peak tourist seasons, and you'll get cheaper prices.
- Romantic beach honeymoon destinations tend to peak in price during wedding season and honeymoon season. So, if you're looking to go to Hawaii, you might want to book your flight in May.
- It's cheaper to fly on holidays rather than before them, too.
Use apps to find good deals.
If you're looking for hacks that are designed for the true wanderer, then apps are your best friend. Skyscanner, for example, allows you to scan for travel deals of all sorts—and doesn't even require you to put in a destination!
You get to fly by the seat of your pants to wherever you feel like going, making it a great choice for anyone who tends to make plans on the fly.
Don't stick to one travel site, and make sure to clear your cookies before you buy your tickets.
This is one of the few lifehacks around booking flights I learned from a real hacker friend, and over the years, I've actually seen it work. Later on, I head other experts cite this as a major industry secret.
Cookies are little snippets of data that remain on your computer every time you visit a site. These data snippets signal to websites that you've already visited them—and many websites will use that knowledge to raise the prices of the flights and hotels they show you.
By clearing your computer of cookies, you will see the real prices and be able to snag a serious deal. If you're not knowledgable about cookies, it's good to surf the web in incognito mode. It'll have the same effect.
Use tech to find the best flight combo for you.
Combining flights is often the easiest way to get good airfare rates. But you can't always rely on mainstream sites like Orbitz to show you all the connecting flights to a destination.
Booking a flight using regular search engines like Google Flights can make it hard to see all the different combinations. Kiwi, on the other hand, makes it possible to see all the different combinations you can take—and select the cheapest flight for your budget.
Befriend cheap airlines.
Everyone knows that there are luxury airlines and "economy airlines." Budget airlines aren't glamorous, nor are they always comfortable. However, if you're looking to travel on the cheap, booking these flight carriers remains one of the best hacks when booking a flight out there.
These airlines include:
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Tiger Air
- Frontier Airlines
- Aer Lingus
Pay with a credit card that has airline miles.
This might be an article about flight booking lifehacks, but this hack is more of a credit card hack, if you ask me. Credit cards that rack up airline miles will often give you automatic discounts just by using them to book the tickets.
Airline mile points are very useful if you are a frequent flyer, and in many cases, can make travel far cheaper. Plenty of nice little bonuses can be given, for example, if you are a traveler who has a high end AmEx card.
I mean, you're paying for your ticket regardless. You might as well reap the bonuses you'd receive with your credit card.