How to: Cheapest Flights

How to Find the Cheapest Flights

I have been working for years to figure out the perfect way to find the cheapest flights, and while I don't claim to be the expert on the matter, I can share with you all that I have found from the countless hours investing in reading, reviewing, and checking flight information, sites, trackers, etc. Due to all of this investment in time and energy, I now refuse to pay for a flight that I know I could have gotten at a better price (one of the pitfalls of gaining knowledge)! So if I'm not claiming to the almighty expert on the matter, and I don't have just an easy link to send you to get the cheapest flight out there, why would you even want to read this post? Easy! If you're like me, and want desperately to travel but are on an extremely limited budget, one of the easiest ways to save is on your flight. Additionally, if you decide to start looking for a cheap flight or how to find cheap flights, you are going to read dozens and dozens of blog posts, magazine articles, and podcasts that all claim to be the experts, and who have contradictory information. I have read them. I have watched them. I have listened to them. Here, I am sharing what I have found to be accurate from a combination of all of them!
Here are some examples of flights that I have purchased:
  • $546/person Atlanta to Brussels - round trip
  • $399.05/person Atlanta to Quito - round trip
  • $110.41/person Atlanta to Nice and Paris to Atlanta - (with use of skymiles)
  • $710/person Atlanta to Vienna, Munich  to Atlanta
  • $170.15/person Atlanta to Quebec City - round trip (last minute)
  • $210.40/person Atlanta to NYC - round trip (last minute and during peak holiday season)
  • $441.01/person Atlanta to Marseille, Barcelona to Atlanta

These are just over the last 2-3 years and all include 1 checked bag and 1 carry-on bag. These are far, far, cheaper than you will find from just a quick search: take a look and see how they compare to what you would find!

  1. Start Early
I cannot express enough how important it is to start looking for your flight as early as possible. As you will find when you dive into the search for your cheapest flight possible, prices change drastically and constantly. Prices increase based on when the airlines think that people will most likely buy them, and decrease when they think people will not be checking. One flight could potentially change several times in one day. Most sites tell you that prime-time to book your flight is 6 months in advance. In order to get an even better jump on that, start looking even earlier so that you can track the patterns of when prices dip and surge for your dates. If you only retain one thing from this list, it should be that the best way to save on your flight is to start looking early!
  1. Buying Days
Regardless of whether you are looking directly at the airline's website or at general searches on Google, flights in general are cheapest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you plan to check flights ongoing to watch the spikes and dips, or if you have to book a last minute flight without tracking, do it on one of these days and rest assured that you will be in the best general time frame of that week.
  1. Have Flexible Days
This one can be a challenge at times, but if you're planning ahead, this could be tremendously useful for saving on flights. The day of the week that you are flying (both departing and arriving) will play a major role on the price. Excluding holiday situations, flying on Tuesday - Thursday is cheaper than Friday - Monday. It makes sense right, but it's not always the case. I love checking Google flights, because you can select a calendar mode which will show you the differences in prices from day today. Looking right now at a flight to Paris from Atlanta there are Wednesday flights at $1100 round-trip and that Saturday there are $749 round-trip. Looking at the next week, the Wednesday flight is $749 and the Sat. is $1100. If you can be flexible by a day or 2 as to when you leave, make sure to check the prices of each day.
  1. Incorporate the Fees
So you start searching for flights, and while you really wanted to fly Delta, you see that Spirit and Frontier are much cheaper than the more comfortable Delta flight that you wanted. Before you start committing to looking into that Spirit Airlines flight, have you considered the fees that are involved? Spirit and Frontier are typically cheapest at base price, but you'll certainly find that the reason for this is that there is a fee for EVERYthing additional. Tack on $50 per bag that you check, $25 - $30 for carry-on in some cases, in-flight drinks and snacks are a charge, sometimes even checking in or printing your boarding pass can be a fee! If you're going to end up paying the higher price anyway, why not search the slightly more comfortably airlines that include all of these fees? Since Delta is an Atlanta based airline and includes all of the fees above, I typically find much cheaper flights using them than with the even "cheaper" airlines.
  1. Use All the Sites
The more sites you use to compare, the more likely you will find the cheapest flight. It might be that the first site you check will have the cheapest, or the it could be the last; either way, you know you're getting the best deal. Out of the 7 flights I have listed as having taken at good rates above, I have purchased them from 4 different sites, and have been notified of when to purchase them from 6 different sites. Here is the list:
Use these 3 first:
  • Google Flights - Google flights is the easiest to access, filter, search, and track. It gives you prices on different days and allows you to check different airports around the area for those days from the map view. It is always my #1 go to
  • Momondo - While Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, etc all search as many places as possible for good flights, Momonda encompasses the most places and incorporates them in their results for best air fare. Unlike those other sites however, it will let you know where you can go purchase the flights rather than making you purchase them from their site directly. This can be very helpful if you feel more safe buying from specific flights or want to incorporate skymiles.
  • Skiplagged - Skiplagged does an amazing job at finding loopholes and accidental entries from airlines. Yes, airlines make accidents on occasion and if you book with the price that they have available, they can't take it back and charge you more!
After you have checked these sites, go back to the standards:
Reminder sites/apps:
  • Clark Howard Flights - does a very good job of checking and predicting when flights will be cheapest from your specific airline. If you sign up for the flights email list, they will send a weekly/bi-weekly email with incredible deals on flights
  • Hopper - Hopper is a great app that you can download and it will do a lot of the tracking for you. Allow notifications, and it will update you when prices drop or increase. This is great if you want to be ready at a moment's notice to book the perfectly priced flight

If you are new to searching for cheap flights and willing to invest the time and energy to get them, hopefully this info will help get you out there and on the right path. Now that you are familiar with my personal process, you can put it to work and see if it works out for you!