How to Find Cheap Flights


Many people ask me how I am able to afford to travel so much internationally. One of my tricks is to find the cheapest airline fares possible.

One of my friends called it extreme couponing for travel.

One of the biggest costs in your budget when you travel is going to be your plane ticket so if you are able to get it for a lower price you can use the money you save on fun stuff, like activities or a nice meal.

Here are some of the tools I use to book cheap plane tickets:

Escape ATX
If you are lucky enough to live in the great state of Texas there is a wonderful FREE website called Escape ATX that will send out an email alert every time they find an airline deal. They also have coverage in Dallas, Houston, New York/Newark, Chicago, and LA.

Scott’s Cheap Flights
Probably one of the better known deal finding sites is Scott’s Cheap Flights. I am currently signed up for a free account so I’m not seeing all the deals but with Escape ATX and the other Texas cities they run I feel like I am getting pretty full coverage for my region.

Secret Flying
I follow the Secret Flying Facebook group that posts deals they find worldwide. Because it does cover the entire globe I often miss posts for my area but they do seem to find deals that are not covered by the other two companies above.

One thing to note is that with these 3 sites you can’t add any information like dates you are specifically looking for or destinations. You are just getting emails with whatever deals they find so you need to be flexible and open.

But if you are looking for a way to track something more specific then I recommend these sites/apps:

Google Flights
For a long time Kayak was my go to flight tracking website but Google Flights has quickly replaced that. My favorite features include not just being able to track dates and destinations but also tracking specific flight numbers. Also, while Kayak will only email you updates once a day, Google will alert you whenever there is a significant change. It will also send you an email if it detects a change is about to happen in fare price. I also love their map feature where you can browse costs based on just an origin city (even multiple) and dates.  I prefer the website over the app.

Hopper
Much like Google Flights, Hopper, allows you to set up alerts for dates and destinations. While I like the ease of using the app I actually have yet to find a deal using it.

With these options there is no one that is better than the other. For example, I had a flight alert set up on Hopper for Tokyo. I received a deal alert from Escape DFW for Tokyo flights, I checked it out and they had dates I was looking for so I booked my ticket. This fare didn’t even come through on the Hopper app. So I highly recommend using as many tools as you can to find fare deals.

 

Things to remember about fare deals:

  • Be flexible – you might not get the exact dates you are looking for or even the exact destination that you want but the more flexibility you have in your plans the more likely you are to get a great deal
  • Book ASAP – Most of these deals are only active for a few hours. If you are unsure of your plans with work or school, remember that most airlines offer a 24 hour refund. Some airlines will even let you hold a fare for 3-5 days for a small fee if you need some extra time to figure out your plans.
  • Don’t get too excited – Wait until your ticket is confirmed before you start booking accommodations or making non-refundable plans. Sometimes deals are mistake fares and airlines or third parties can cancel your booking. I have only had this happen once and it was a bummer. This is more common if you are booking through a 3rd party than directly with an airline.