8 foolproof methods to find cheap flights

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Finding and booking flights can be rather stressful. With so many routes and prices out there, finding the best value can be tough.

So here are the sites and methods we use to assure we’re getting the most out of our money. If you’ve got any tips we’ve not covered then just write us a comment.

1 – Use Skyscanner

Skyscanner is our go-to resource to find cheap flights. With basically every airport in the world listed, and practically every airline too, it’s easy to type in two destinations and your dates and get going.

There’s also a handy ‘Everywhere’ option, meaning you can search for flights under a certain budget across the whole world – it’s great if you’re unsure where you want to go on holiday.

Who knows where you could be heading to? Skyscanner helped us discover Lisbon (taken here in flight)
Who knows where you could be heading to? Skyscanner helped us discover Lisbon (taken here in flight over Copenhagen)

Also the fare calendar that arises after you’ve searched for a destinations a great way to see if you can extend or shorten your stay and save some money.

But beware: like all aggregators, you’re not booking through Skyscanner directly. Some of the booking sites it forwards you to may have their own terms and conditions, or might not be the most trusty sources.

2 – Use airline sites directly

There are so many flight operators out there, so idly going through each and every one is a bad idea. So to lessen the effort, I often go to Skyscanner, look for a particular route, see who flies there, and then book directly through the airline rather than via Skyscanner.

Sometimes this makes no difference in price, but it’s happened once or twice where a flight has been cheaper through the airline itself, normally due to an offer on site or because Skyscanner’s prices are not fully updated.

And besides, especially if it’s a small airline, I’d rather give the money to the airline itself.

3 – Use Momondo

Very similar to Skyscanner, although it offers hotels and flight deals in the same vein as Expedia. Momondo is a Copenhagen-based holiday search tool, so perhaps this isn’t a major player outside of Scandinavia. (Have you heard of it? Let us know!)

What is great about Momondo is that the results are sometimes different to Skyscanner, so you might find a cheap flight which you did not even know existed previously.

Also, if you’re booking a hotel with the flight, Momondo has a fantastic map view so you can pinpoint exactly where you are staying and how this could impact your travel.

4 – Travel from your local airport

This is not an assured method for a cheap flight; some airlines based at local airports offer cheap flights to other local airports, while some charge outrageous fares due to a lack of travellers using the local airport.

Another Lisbon shot, this time of a plane landing at the local airport.
Another Lisbon shot, this time of a plane landing at the local airport.

But research it either way. For example, my nearest major airport is Copenhagen and most trips start out there due to the variety of places on offer. But Malmö airport, which isn’t really that tougher to get to, has a range of budget airlines offering cheap flights to small European destinations.

So check out your local airport. There could be some hidden gems there if you’re not so picky about where you’re flying to.

5 – Fly to and from different places

Basing yourself around one airport is cost and time effective. But could you perhaps travel through the country you’re going to and fly back from somewhere else, saving money in the process?

That’s what we did in Vietnam. And while we didn’t have much choice as we were ending in Hanoi in the north and not Saigon in the south, flying this way round was much cheaper than starting in the north and ending in the south.

Also, we went via Bangkok on this occasion. So we flew from Copenhagen to Bangkok on a cheap flight, and then took another ‘internal’ cheap flight to the relevant city in Vietnam.

So break up your journey and see if it works. And who knows – you might see another new place along the way.

6 – Consider a layover

Similarly to point 5, why not consider a layover? While it was not technically a layover with the same airline company, the stop in Bangkok on my way to Vietnam was a break in the journey which made travelling cheaper and more enjoyable.

A picture of Sapa in northern Vietnam. Because reasons.
A picture of Sapa in northern Vietnam. Because reasons.

You might find there are even layover deals. Sometimes Skyscanner comes up with really long flight times of 24 hours and above, and they’re usually the cheapest flights. So if it’s possible, get in touch with the airline or airport, see if you can leave the airport, and you might have just bagged yourself a day in a decent city.

Beyond all this, some airline companies also offer layover trips. Take a look at Icelandair who pay for your next leg to the USA or to Europe if you stay a certain amount of nights in Iceland.

7 – Look out for last minute deals

Last minute deals are not a thing of the past. Sure, the internet has made waiting to the last minute for the best deal less important, but there are still posters in travel agents and online advertising last minute deals.

Obviously this relies on a heavy degree of flexibility, but don’t forget to check the odd travel agent, or sites like lastminute.com.

8 – Don’t fly at all

The best cheap flight you can find is not flying at all. Sometimes.

While flying is cheap on the whole, some trips are best done via an alternative method. One example where I’m based is getting to Stockholm from Malmö. Book train tickets in advance and the money saved is noticeable, and the time saved is too when there’s no checking in, security control and so on.

Alternative methods can also lessen the environmental impact too. (For more info on why I still fly when the environment is a concern, click here.)

Here’s to flying high!

Let us know your best tips on finding those precious cheap flights. And why not connect with us on Twitter?


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