5 Hacks for Booking Cheap Flights You Haven’t Heard Before, According to Frequent Flyers

published Nov 9, 2022
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While travel was on hold for a while after the pandemic swept the U.S. in March 2020, some folks are now ready to get out and explore the world. But no matter your comfort level and the distance you want to travel, there’s one overarching fact at the moment: Flights have gotten expensive. So, how are you supposed to satiate your desire to see the world or visit family on the other side of the U.S. when prices have skyrocketed? 

Although there are some old secrets, such as using an incognito tab to search for flights or leveraging your loyalty points, I went to a few experts to see how to score expensive airline tickets for cheap — or at least for less. From having flexibility to buying more than you originally intended, here are five tips for booking cheap flights, according to the experts. 

Sign up for newsletters that offer last-minute deals.

If you are loyal to a specific airline and want to put those frequent-flyer miles to the best use, then get on email lists ASAP. You never know when an airline will offer perks and specials to their email list. “Frequent-flyer bonuses are often advertised in airline newsletters,” advises Anthony Radchenko, who is a frequent flyer and co-founder of Air Advisor. “Those points and miles can add up to free flights and significant upgrades if you know how to use them.”

In addition to airlines, many other sites, such as Kayak and Travelzoo, send regular email blasts alerting their subscribers to the best deals. “Make sure you have signed up for some newsletters before you look for specific flights,” adds Radchenko. “Most of the time, you can only get cheap flights for a short time.” Translation: If you have your mind set on a destination and a sale shows up in your inbox, jump on it quickly, or it may go away or sell out.

Be flexible with your dates.

One of my favorite sites to search for flights is Priceline because of the 24-hour cancellation policy and date flexibility. Frequent traveler Matt James agrees that being able to leave on a different day than originally planned is advantageous. “If you’re able to be flexible, you’ll have a better chance of finding a cheaper flight,” he says. When searching for a fare, check the dates surrounding your ideal departure day. You may find that leaving a day early or coming home a day later will save money in the long run, even if you need to splurge on a hotel room for an additional night.

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Monitor price fluctuations.

Google Flights allows you to look through the current inventory of seat and flight options available, and more folks are using it to save on travel. “Google Flights is among the most well-known in this area,” says former flight attendant Aimee Howard. “You can also use it to track pricing with tools included in each search result to determine whether the price is fair.” This service also encourages you to assess price competitiveness by considering alternate dates, leaving from nearby airports, and consulting a pricing graph.

Take advantage of incorrect pricing.

Everyone makes mistakes, and although it’s not favorable for airlines when blunders occur, folks catch on quickly. “Keep an eye on glitch fares,” recommends airline pilot Duke Armitage. He suggests keeping an eye on sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights for alerts on sale, error, and glitch fares. These reduced rates often happen when an airline or online travel agency accidentally lists the wrong ticket price. “The savings can go up to hundreds of dollars on any given flight,” he adds.

Consider bundling your travel plans.

The bundle-and-save approach works with travel, too. If you need a hotel, car rental, and activities, consider purchasing them together. “Look for holiday package deals,” Armitage advises. Packages can be much cheaper and include flights, accommodations, airport transfers, and excursions. “Often, the entire trip would cost less than a regular flight,” he adds. Additionally, shopping for your travel needs in one place can save time and money.