Welcome to my MEGA guide on booking cheap flights.
You may have read other articles on booking cheap flights. Or you may actually be a 20 year travel veteran whose booked some extremely cheap flight deals in the past.
No matter who you are I can promise you one thing. And that is nothing comes close to the amount you’re about to learn here today. I’m dumping all the information rattling around in my brain from over 10 years of into this MEGA guide for you. When your’re done here you will know to book very cheap international flights and domestic.
If you can take what I’m saying and apply it then you are going know exactly how I book the most amazing travel deals available. My secret insider tips on booking cheap flights come from my years of personal experience globe trotting to various corners of the globe. And it even goes as far as having learnt trade secrets from ex-travel agents I actually paid to talk to.
You might be thinking this has something to do with air miles or points. Well it doesn’t. Lets kill that thought right now. That’s an entirely different topic altogether that’s not part of this guide. What I’m about to teach you is instant. You won’t be spending months trying to accumulate points of some kind to eventually book some free flight and just pay a small amount on tax to book in a flight.
The best part is there is no email I’m going to ask you for. There is nothing I’m here to sell you. You’re not going to read for ten minutes and then get told it’s $8.99 for the rest of the info. Nothing, nada, zip, zero!
I’m not asking you for a single thing in return. This is simply me giving back to the world so others can book the most epic flight deals like I’ve been doing for the better part of half a decade.
One thing I want to mention before I get into it. This is a long guide. Think of this free guide as a flight hacking course you actually paid for. This is not some quick post I’ve made to get more visitors to Euro Travel Life. The point of this post if to give you the know-how so you can then go off and book cheap flights for the rest of your life.
This means I need to teach you quite a lot. That can’t be done in some little tiny article on a site that take you five minutes to read. Set some time aside to really digest what you’re reading here so once you’re done you can play around and do some flight searches yourself.
So who am I and why should you really care?
Hi there I’m Dominik and I’ve been basically living on the road for about 5 years now as a perpetual traveler. I run my business from the road. So travel is life for me. I rely on getting good deals to keep up with my lifestyle. I’d never be caught deal paying what you could say is ‘retail’ for a flight as finding deals is to damn easy!
I know your time is valuable so why not prove to you that I know my stuff right away?
Here is my flight confirmation for a booking I made only a few hours ago earlier today. I think proving myself to you first has more value than throwing up some fancy photo I took of something cool thing while travelling.
I’m heading to Europe for the ski season after having lived in Thailand for sometime so I picked up this amazing deal!
Hang on a moment what is that date you see there… January 12th. Wait, shouldn’t flights cost an arm and a leg at that time of the year? Yea they do for normal people. But not for you once you get done reading my guide.
And yes if you’re wondering the booking confirmation has been chopped up a little bit and some parts are blacked out. Do you like my ninja warrior zen master skills in paint? As this flight is in the future I do need to protect myself a little. Once I’m in Europe I’ll put up the unaltered booking confirmation.
Without further ado let’s jump right into it so you can become a certificated travel hacking master booking flights for your Europe trip and the rest of the world that come in dirt cheap.
Table of Contents
- International Cheap Flights – SecretFlying.com
- Airline Ticket Classes
- Best Time to Buy International Airline Tickets (and Domestic)
- Flight Booking Myths
- The Actual Method on How to Book Cheap Flights
- Airport Hubs
- Budget Airlines
- Piecing It All Together
- Bonus Travel Hacks
International Cheap Flights – SecretFlying.com
I was debating if I should put this travel hacking tip at the start of the guide.
… Or be evil about it and put it at the end so you have to read everything else first mwhaha! But I decided that I wouldn’t be an asshole. I know you might be rushed on time so why not give you the one thing that could totally change the game for you right away.
So scrap any ideas you might have in your head about how to get a good deal on flights. Forget travel points and miles with credit cards. Forget some best day of the week to book a flight tip or best time to book international flights hack that is supposed to get allow you to book in the best deal. None of that. Forget it all!
Want the big secret?
… It’s quite simple. Just go to SecretFlying.com! This site is the holy gateway to booking international cheap flights. And domestic to!
What? No way Dom! Are you kidding me? I was expecting some long winded method that would take me hours to find one deal while juggling rabies infected monkeys and sacrificing one while worshiping a demigod.
Nope, it’s that simple. Just use SecretFlying.com and it shows me the cheapest places to travel in the world.
Ok so I’ll get a bit more serious now and put a hold on my failed attempt to be funny and sarcastic.
All SecretFlying.com does is scan the internet for flight deals. And they are very good at exactly that. Then they put them all in one place. On their website.
Here are a few examples of deals from the last few days. Yes, days, not even a week or weeks:
- ERROR FARE: Hawaii to Barcelona or Madrid, Spain from only $355 USD round trip
Amsterdam, Netherlands to Jakarta, Indonesia for only €272 roundtrip
HOT!! Non-stop from Dusseldorf, Germany to Jamaica for only €155 round trip
Stockholm, Sweden to Auckland, New Zealand, returning to London, UK for only £458 / €516
HOT!! The Canary Islands to French cities for only €1 one-way
New York to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for only $372 round trip
Stockholm, Sweden to Seattle, USA for only €284 round trip
FLASH SALE: Flights across Europe from only €1
Paris, France to Melbourne or Sydney, Australia from only €611 round trip
Helsinki, Finland or Budapest, Hungary to New York, USA from only €290 round trip (add a stop in Lisbon Portugal for €40 more)
Non-stop from Cologne, Germany to Phuket, Thailand for only €274 round trip
Milan, Rome or Bologna, Italy to Recife, Brazil from only €336 round trip
I think you get the point…
The deals are nothing short of amazing.
Don’t be fooled either. What I put above is only a small selection of deals. It really doesn’t matter where you are flying from and to. There is going to be something that is going to suit you on SecretFlying.com. And if there really isn’t you can always take a cheap flight to get where you need to go first for a deal.
For example if you’re heading to Europe and there is a deal from New York to Europe return for an amazing price but you live in Florida for argument sake. Well get yourself up to NYC with some cheap flight. You don’t have to be checked in the whole way to Europe on the same ticket. Jut grab you’re bags in NY and check in to the next flight.
Something to consider. As these tickets are always such good deals it’s always a good idea to check the rules of the ticket before actually paying.
Most of the tickets will have restrictions. In the end it really won’t matter as you got such a good deal in the first place you’ll likely make adjustments to make sure you take your flight. But if you need to make changes these tickets might charge heavy date change fees, they might not allow name changes, they might not be refundable, maybe you can’t change the destination (kinda obvious as the deal was for a specific flight) and so on. So just keep this in mind when booking tickets that are really good sales fares that come from SecretFlying.com.
So now that you have the insider information you can basically stop here.
You have everything you need.
The keys to the world for practically no cost flights are yours to command.
I’m telling you right now to stop. Go play around with SecretFlying.com for a little bit and then come back and read the rest of my guide.
… And then tell your four travel buddies you’ll handle the flights for the holidays that you have coming up. But you need the money sent to your account to book it all in. Then book a $400 deal for them all and tell them flights are $1,000/return and they will still think you got an epic deal. Pocket $600 off each of them. That gives you $2,400 drinking and play money.
I had you going there for a moment didn’t I. C’mon you didn’t… Wait… Did you actually think about doing that for a moment?
No, no, no please don’t do that. That would make you an asshole and no one likes an asshole.
So you now have what you need. Forget the rest, hopefully…
One last thing. Browse through SecretFlying.com by all means. But don’t waste a whole lot of time doing it. It’s easy to get on their mailing list and just get new deals sent right to your inbox.
Sign up here and just select the region you want. This is all I do. I get their emails daily and if there is nothing I can use who cares. I spent seconds checking an email daily. When something interesting comes along I start digging into it more. If it’s what I need then I book my flights. This way I don’t have to worry about how far in advance to book international flights. I just the email and check to see what it is.
You’ll also want to like and follow Secret Flying on Facebook. Their page is @ https://www.facebook.com/secretflying/. While I was on Facebook today I saw a deal for London, England to Auckland, New Zealand return for £399. Damn good deal!
Why would you waste more time than that? Ladies don’t you have better things to do like talk to your girlfriends on the phone for like 18 hours? And fellas ain’t your buddies waiting for you at the pub? Get on with it!
Now to the boring stuff that everyone else talks about when it comes to ‘travel hacking’ or ‘flight hacking’…
In all fairness the rest of this guide does have a lot of merit. As you won’t always make SecretFlying.com work for you. That flight with Norwegian I booked today didn’t come from SecretFlying.com and below you’ll learn how to book such an amazing deal. It’s a thousand times simpler than you think.
It can be fun searching for fares and finally snapping up a killer deal. I lied a little when I said it was boring as it’s actually quite addictive! And some of the stuff I cover no one will ever tell you about as they want to keep it a secret or they simply just don’t know about it.
Airline Ticket Classes
I fell this is important to cover first off so you will understand why ticket prices change so much. Once I learnt this I realised why I got hit with massive fees trying to change flights in the past and why I could look at a ticket price one day and the next it jumped up $200. This is one of the things I learnt from Beck Power of Nomad Fly.
Now when I say classes I’m not actually talking about economy class, business class, first class,
baller class suite class (that private room on a plane like on Singapore Airlines has for people who are pissing out to cash) and so on.
Nope none of those I’m actually talking about the class of a ticket.
Each ticket that is sold has a class. For example A, B, C, D, E and so on.
For example if you book your ticket on a sale and get an M class ticket. That ticket will have one price. If you end up booking your ticket and you get a N class it’s cheaper. If it was a K class it’s more expensive and so on. Next time you get your boarding pass look at it and you will see the class you were sold. Or click on the picture to your right to see an example.
This is why I can go on Norwegians website and see the exact same prices for several dates in their calendar view.
As the tickets being sold are for the same class. Below you can see some tickets for $281.20, some for $339, some for $786.50. When the price is the same the ticket class is also the same. And you can see the ticket prices in between. Random pricing? No, not at all. It’s just pricing for different classes.
Now take a look at how full the flights are. I started a booking for the $281.20 flight (on the left below) and the $988.60 (on the right) and you can see what you’ve just learnt in practice.
The cheap flight (left) has lots of cheaper class tickets still available and it’s almost empty. The more expensive flight (right) is almost full and as it fills up the most expensive class tickets might sell for $2,000 or more.
This will make more sense as you read further on. Just keep this in mind for now.
Are you starting to sense how I got such a cheap ticket that I showed at the start of this guide when tickets should be expensive? All I did was snap up one of the cheapest classes on that flight. There is really no secret behind it like some magic behind the cheapest days to fly international.
Best Time to Buy International Airline Tickets (and Domestic)
Everyone who plans a trip will at one point ponder on the question of “how far in advance should I book a flight?”
The short answer is a few months before you fly.
The long answer is it really depends. Airlines have sales they put out three to four months before major seasons each year.
So think about the major seasons in Europe and North America. Summer has it’s peak months during July and August. So think a few months out for summer deals. And the peak of Winter being December to February so a few months before hand for deals to come out for winter. When it comes to other parts of the world you just need to think the same way but summer and winter months are reversed.
If you want to get a good deal stick to these rules as the best time to book international flights. Or booking even further out is also better! Prices rarely go down the closer you get to the time you fly unless a major sale happens. So if you can book a flight six months out then do it. But if you the luxury of time on your side then you might as well wait for a deal on SecretFlying.com to come around.
The other side of the coin is that you could book a month before flying and still get a good deal. I’ve done this many times and the price has been quite reasonable. For me personally with how my lifestyle being on the road I never really book anything more than one month out for the most part.
So as a general rule the further out you can plan and book your flights the better. But don’t stress if you can’t book until a month before hand.
But do keep in mind if you book a week or two before hand you’ll likely get an expensive price.
This is simply supply and demand 101.
There is no secret here on the best time to buy international airline tickets. Or the best day of the week to fly.
The cheapest time of year to fly is really a myth also. Even when it comes to holiday prices being jacked such as Christmas and Easter. Why does that happen? A lot of people ‘think’ flying during the holidays is more expensive when in reality the prices of the classes are the same.
What actually happens is so many people book their holidays so far out in advance that even when you book tickets for Christmas three months before thinking you’re getting in early you’re really not. As lots of people booked six months ago and all the tickets you see are for the more expensive classes.
Flight Booking Myths
Now I’m going to clear up a few myths when it comes to flying. For some reason these myths have come up and stuck around. Just like ‘money is evil’. Well if you didn’t have money you won’t be going on your trip right! So it ain’t evil! Because I bet you’re actually a good person at heart and not evil at all. And you happen to have money in your pocket right.
Best Day of the Week to Book A Flight
Time to bust this myth! There is actually no best day of the week to buy plane tickets.
What actually happens?
Well airlines have millions of past customers and they know when the tickets are booked. From what I’ve come to understand we can say that most tickets are booked on weekends. And this is also quite logical. People are off work. They sit down with their loved ones or two friends looks at tickets together.
During the week people are busy so less tickets are booked up.
This just comes down to more tickets of cheaper classes being available during the week. And as the weekend goes by and tickets sell the more expensive classes become available. So if you looked at a ticket price on Wednesday and then went back on Sunday night you could come to the conclusion that Wednesday is cheapest the day to book flights if you just look at what is going on from the surface.
But then what happens the following Wednesday?
Well the ticket might be the same price or cost even more as it’s now a more expensive class due to some tickets being sold. Then that ticket from Wednesday might be cheaper then the tickets that shows up on the weekend that comes up. So once again you could say that Wednesday was cheaper than the weekend when it’s really not. It’s to do with ticket classes. Nothing to do with some magical best day of the week to buy airline tickets.
And this cycle will repeat itself until the flight is all booked. The last ticket that is sold on that flight could even take place on a Wednesday and be the most expensive ticket for the whole flight. All of a sudden the idea that Wednesday or any other day for that matter is not so cheap anymore is it?
A long story short there are no cheapest days to book flights.
The Actual Method on How to Book Cheap Flights
So now that learnt a little and the fine details are out of the way we can now jump right into why you’re really here. To find out how to get cheap tickets.
How to book cheap flights really comes down to is sticking to flying between hubs.
This is something I’ve never heard talked about online to date publicly. If it has been then I haven’t seen it.
I learnt this from an ex-travel agent who I actually paid to get the insider travel industry information from. She sold a course about industry travel tips and this was one of the major things I learnt in that course. Over the years I did somewhat figure this out myself and I was putting it into practice from booking lots of flight myself.
So I could say that she reinforced that fact that it was a real thing but what I didn’t understand until I went through her course was how deep ‘hubs’ go and how much they can actually save you.
What do I mean by a hub?
Well it’s simply a major airport.
This is how you will figure out how to finds the cheapest place to fly into Europe, Asia, USA, Australia and so on. And how to find the cheapest countries to fly.
By using hubs.
What’s the cheapest European cities to fly into? That is irrelevant. The answer is as long as it’s a hub it going to be cheap.
What’s are the cheapest international destinations? Once again forget that way of thinking. It’s all about hubs my friend!
I bet you could name a few even off the top of your head right now. How about London for Europe. How about New York for USA. How about Kuala Lumpur and Singapore for Asia. These are the really obvious ones.
Next up is that not all airlines fly everywhere. Something else that is obvious but often overlooked. For example I can’t fly on Norwegian to Australia no matter what. Sometimes you will have airlines that are partners. For example I ended up on Air France once from Paris to Manila when I was expecting to be on China Southern Airlines. But this is also limited to where you can go.
Match these two together and you have a winning combination.
You need to fly airlines that service routes from one major hub to another major hub and do it often. Not an airline that has one or two flights a week. An airline that is doing that flight daily if not many times a day. This is how you keep your prices very low.
Lets say you want to go from Perth, Australia to London, England around the end of January. Only going one way as you are going to Europe for a ski season and don’t know where you’ll go after.
The worst thing I can possibly do is try to book my whole ticket in one go! Don’t do this! EVER!
That’s going to cost me an arm and a leg. Why? Because airlines know this is what people do. The rules of ticket classes seems to be thrown out the window when you do this. Those rules only seem to apply for single tickets as the airlines charge a premium when you book multiple legs on the same ticket.
If that is not actually true as only the insiders at the airlines setting ticket prices would know the real answer. Then it comes down to the booking systems. When you do a return flight for multiple stopovers then the systems that looks into the tickets that are needed doesn’t really know what to do so it spits out various options and matches up flights that are overpriced.
Lets break down Perth, Australia to London, England and get a cheap price.
What are your hubs for this trip?
Well Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are one. And Europe is full of hubs. London just happens to be a hub. London is actually more expensive to fly into because of the taxes that the airports charge there but lets stick to it and see what we can do.
I’ll start with the Asia to Europe leg as this the major part of this flight.
What airlines do this route?
Malaysia Airlines, Emirates and Qatar all come to mind. I did a quick search directly on the airlines websites and found that Malaysia Airlines was cheapest. Here is what I found:
As I started the search from Kuala Lumpur the price comes up in Malaysia’s local currency. With an exchange rate of roughly 4.2MYR to $1USD the flights costs $412.53.
Now lets look for the other part of the flight. I personally know that flying from Perth to hubs in Asia is a bit of a monopoly. There are only a select number of full priced airlines that do those flights. So The flight with Malaysia Airlines will cost almost as much as the flight from Kuala Lumpur to London.
So what are our options. Well luckily Perth is serviced by lots of cheaper budget airlines that operate out of Asia. We should be able to get something for $100 or so with Air Asia or another budget carrier.
As you can see above left I managed to get a flight for about $100. But after bags we are at $141.81 and this was on Air Asia in the end.
Total ticket cost is about $550 to get from Perth to London. Not bad considering these were just the first deals I searched and did and no more digging.
We also get to spend a day in Kuala Lumpur. Perfect! Such a long flight with only an hour or two stepping off the plane if you booked the whole trip with Malaysia would be quite bad.
A cheap hotel in Kuala Lumpur will only set you back about $30 or so and getting around KL is basically pocket change.
What would have happened if I booked Malaysia Airlines direct the whole way through? Sometimes the price would be good but in this case and in most cases, it’s not. To get on the plane in Perth at the same time as the the Air Asia flight this is what came up:
The Australian dollar is worth 76.18c per $1USD when writing this so the flight costs about $1,890.
So what would you rather do? Spend a night in Kuala Lumpur and check out a new city. Or pay about $1,340 more to be stuck on a plane that will take you half way across Australia first. Wait at the airport hoping you don’t miss you flight in Melbourne as you’ve fallen somewhere in the airport and then while already in zombie mode get o your flight to Kuala Lumpur. Get off for three hour once again in mega zombie most from being sleep deprived and then get on the plane again to London for the second leg.
I think the choice is quite obvious. Even if you wanted to stay in KL for a few nights and get a good hotel you’ve much better off. Say that costs you $300 total. You’ve still saved $1,000 compared to flying direct with Malaysia Airlines.
So this is just one example. I could go through more but I’m not going to as I think you get the point. Book one way tickets, period.
Now you might be wondering how you’re going to do this yourself if you don’t know about all the hubs. Well guess what? Other than a handful I don’t know that many either.
Here is a massive list of hubs around the world:
|EUROPE||ASIA||WEST ASIA||OCEANIA||CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA||NORTH AMERICA||MIDDLE EAST||AFRICA|
|Stockholm||Hong Kong||Male||Melbourne||Santiago||Toronto||Abu Dhabi||Johannesburg|
|Paris||Kuala Lumpur||Delhi||Gold Coast||Rio||Seattle||Qatar||Cairo|
|Berlin||Guangzhou||Mumbai||Perth||Sao Paulo||Portland||Muscat||Dar Es Salaam|
|Amsterdam||Shanghai||Goa||Papeete||Bogota||Los Angeles||Reunion Island|
|Frankfurt||Beijing||Calcutta||Christchurch||Panama City||Las Vegas||Marrakech|
|Dusseldorf||Tokyo||Columbo||Auckland||San Jose||San Diego||Durban|
|Barcelona||Osaka||Hydrabad||Mexico City||San Francisco||Sharm El Sheik|
|Dublin||Islamabad||San Juan||Salt Lake City||Cairo|
|St Petersburg||Fort Lauderdale|
To add to this you can also use these two sites to search out route maps of airlines:
- http://www.airlineroutemaps.com/ – What you can do with this sites is basically search where you want to go and you will find out what airlines service those routes.
- http://www.flightroutes.net/ – This site will let you pull up the route map of an airline. So you can find new hubs for that airline all over the globe instead of trying to rely on search engines like Expedia piecing together flights that you are paying to much for.
So as you now know flying from one hub to another is the way to go. You’ve got the inside info now. Another thing you can add to your arsenal is using budget airlines. I touched on this above with AirAsia in booking example. If you’re happy to just get to your destination no matter the cost then this is perfect for you!
What I will say is what I’m teaching you here today does not rely on budget airlines at all! You can use these methods in this guide for all kinds of flights. Be it budget airlines, full service airlines, business class flights and even first class!
There is nothing wrong with budget airlines.
I’ve flown my share of them them long haul. Sure you might have to pay for meals and they are not as classy as flying a full priced normal airline like Virgin or British Airways. But in the end you get where you need to go for a fraction of the price.
Back in the day when Air Asia did Kuala Lumpur to London Gatwick I took that flight, return. I’ll admit it was not the best. But at the same time if I have to be honest flying domestic within USA with how bad some airlines are I would rate Air Asia long haul ten times better any day!
Some euro airlines are quite pristine while still being budget carriers. One example of such an airline is Norwegian.
You might recall my example of a €150 flight from Singapore to London. That is on Norwegian. I’ve flown them many times around Europe. From USA to Europe and Europe to USA. I would actually go as far as saying their planes are better and more comfortable than actually being on some fully prices traditional airlines. Their planes are brand spanking new with all the latest tech such as Samsung tablets for screens in the seats and you can order food and drinks right there from your seat with their system. Electronic windows that are also massive. The planes is also a new style that is very quiet and this helps dramatically when trying to sleep and reduced jet lag.
I remember speaking to a friend once who was living in Norway and their opinion was along the lines of “of course it’s a great airline even though it’s ‘budget’ as Norway is one of the most expensive countries on the globe so their version of budget is better than full service normally”. And I can’t agree more!
Here is a list of budget airlines from around the globe.
Budget Airlines Europe
Budget Airlines United States & Canada
- Southwest (I’ll keep this here as they use to be. Not anymore but if I have a choice to pay more I’ll only fly South West in USA)
- Allegiant Air
- Spirit Airlines
- Porter (Canada)
- Air Transat (Canada)
Budget Airlines Australia & New Zealand
Budget Airlines Asia
- Air Asia
- Tiger Air
- Jeju Air
- Hong Kong Express
- Peach Air
- Dragon Air
- Spice Jet
- Spring Airlines
- Vietnam Airlines
- Nok Air
- T’Way Airlines
- Vanilla Air
- Thai Smile Airways
Piecing It All Together
Now lets work on matching everything up that you’ve learnt so you know exactly how to use your new found knowledge to book in some amazing flight deals.
Have A General Idea Of The Direction You’ll Go
Before you started reading my guide you might have been the type of person who went to Expedia and searched point A to B as a return. For example London to Mexico City, return.
Now you know about hubs and that airlines have major routes they fly.
So keep this in mind. If you want to get from USA to Europe or Europe to Central America or any other recombination. Then you’re going to be able to go from somewhere in one country from a hub to somewhere in another country that’s another hub. You don’t have to fly on on a single ticket from your home town say in Nashville to London return.
Keep Your Flight Search Fresh
Airlines and booking websites track you. They sometimes increase the prices of flights if you come back and look at the same flights over and over. You need to clear you web browser cache. By far the easiest way to do this is to just download CCleaner. It’s a free program that wipes all the cookies form your computer.
If you really want the best results it’s best to close all your browser windows. Run CCleaner. Then open up your browser again to do a search.
If you know what incognito mode is you can do that also instead of using CCleaner.
How To Search For Cheap Flights
There are a lot of flight search engines out there in addition to going direct to airline websites.
Search engines for flights make their money by marking up the price of the flight. They take the payment and then book you on the flight direct with the airline. This is how they make a profit.
Sometimes this markup is a lot. Sometimes it’s almost nothing. Sometimes the booking engine has a special promo and booking through them is cheaper than going to the airline direct. So it pays to search for your flights in various ways.
Something to keep in mind though is major search engines like Expedia and Orbitz are consistently more expensive than others. In my opinion the following are the best:
If I’m going to be honest I used to only use SkyScanner for years.
The reason for that was because they consistently gave you the best prices. But their downfall is that they don’t include many budget airlines. Then Kiwi.com came along and changed the game. They include anyone and everyone in their searches. Plus they book you in on multiple one way tickets in the same booking so they are doing the leg work for you that you’ve learn you should be doing anyhow.
So it depends what you want. If you want to include budget airlines and see everything out there use Kiwi.com. If you want good deals but want to avoid the really budget airlines the SkyScanner is a good bet.
Momondo is great also. Now and again I find good deals with them.
And finally Google Flights is a good tool to do quick searches but it’s not always going to give you good prices. If anything it can be more expensive most of the time. But it’s fast so you can see what airlines have good rates for the flight you’re looking at then dig deeper yourself at other websites.
Find The Cheapest Day to Fly
You might be thinking that I went over this before and it’s a myth. So don’t jump the gun here. What I’m referring to is using the knowledge you’ve acquired to find the cheapest day for your trip in particular. Not some secret time or day to book. We covered that before and you known it’s a myth.
This step is very easy indeed. It can be done with Sky Scanner or Google Flights. Or any other search engine for flights you like using as long as they have a monthly price view calendar.
If you have the flexibility to travel when you please then you are going to love this step. If you don’t and can only get time off work around a certain period well you should at least have some flexibility so do your research on flights before putting in your request to get time off work.
Head over to Google Flights @ Google.com/flights.
What I’m about to show you might look slightly different if you’re reading this in 2018 and beyond as when I was writing this section there was a notice on Google Flights saying a new version of Google Flights is launching. Regardless of the update they will be making the concept is still the same.
You will see a search screen like below.
Enter you from hub and your to hub.
Don’t just use exactly where you want to fly from and to like you would have before reading so far. That’s the old redundant method you no longer use. Lets stick to the example of getting from Perth to London but this time in February.
When possible don’t enter a specific airport.
Enter a region city. In this example we are going to start with the Asia to Europe leg of the flight first. Kuala Lumpur just has one airport according to Google and yes if you know KL then you that know that is KUL and KLIA2 but Google shows it all as one. For London I’ve got the ability to select “London, United Kingdom (all airports)”.
Who knows if there is a good deal taking place that gets us to Gatwick airport that is not available if we fly to Heathrow for example.
Once you enter your airports select your date and you will see the screen populate all the dates in that month with the lowest price. I had to actually select a date and then click on the date again for the prices for each day to show up. As you can see below.
You can view the prices by date. Or you can look at a graph that shows you the lowest prices. I like using the dates personally as the lowest ones are highlighted in green anyhow so you won’t miss something.
From what it looks like there is a deal going on right now for $370 so most days in the month are going to be cheap and you should easily be able to take it from here to get your flight booked in for a great rate. As this happened by chance I want to now show you what I would do if I was looking to beat $370.
From the knowledge I now have about hubs after using the list above and the flight planner/route sites I mentioned then what else do we know is an Asian hub?
Singapore! It’s another major hub in Asia. So lets take a look at February for Singapore to London.
We have a few dates that we can fly for $257 instantly saving us $113 just because we were willing to go to the effort of taking another 30 seconds to look at flying to a different hub. There are also 12 days that are spread evenly throughout the month for either $285 or $314. Not bad!
Below are the actual flights for February 7th. By chance the same flight I booked earlier is there with Norwegian just for a different date and price.
Why am I seeing such a good deal? Well I’m using everything I have taught you right now. I’m booking in a time that is not busy to busy in Europe. I’m booking ahead of time by a few months and everything has magically fallen into place with a great ticket price.
Lets follow the same process with SkyScanner.
Head over to SkyScanner.net.
Select ‘one way’. Select “Kuala Lumpur (Any)” for the “From” section.
On SkyScanner you can select the any option for the city your searching so always select that unless there is just one airport then you can only select the one airport.
Then select “London (Any)” for the “To” section. For the date click “Whole Month” on the right and select February. The click Search.
You’ll be taken to the calendar view of all the flights.
You can also view the flights with a graph if you choose. Just press the the chart button.
If we compare these prices to Google Flights in this case it seems like SkyScanner isn’t picking up cheaper deals.
From here you just need to dig deeper and book the flight you want. Try using Momondo also. Once you have the flight you want check the price direct with the airlines website also as you might get a better deal.
You might decide that you want to explore Bangkok for a few days on the way to Europe instead. As Bangkok is also a major hub in Asia. Keep your options open and don’t just think in this example that Singapore or Kuala Lumpur are your only options.
Then you would do the same thing for the Perth to your hub in Asia. Doing this got me a lot of flights under $100.
Following on from above out of curiosity I did a search on Perth to London and to no surprise all the flights were at least $200 more expensive.
In addition the flights that were the cheapest were on airlines I’d never want to fly. So not only did matching things together with one way flights work out better price wise but it also worked out with nicer airlines. And when you going to be doing a flight half way across the world you want to be comfortable! The nicer airliner we about $500 more expensive.
Book One Way Flights / Return Sections
If you have not figured it out yet. I’ve been teaching you to book one way flights this whole time and piece together your trip. For the most part this is truth. But that being said…
I’ve titled this part “One Way Flights / Return Sections” as there is something to be said about return flights for the same section. And by section I mean just that one way flight you booked, as a return. You are not going to go and book Perth to London return. You will just look at the Singapore to London section of the trip as a return. Or the Perth to Singapore section as a return.
What I’ve learnt in my five years or so on the road is that you should always double check flights for one way and return. This is going to be a real hit or a miss through. Sometimes you will find good deals that only cost a little more than booking a one way flight and the other side of the fence is that you will find flights that are twice the price of two one way flights pieced together.
So it’s up to you to explore this option and figure it out.
Now I’m not going to try to claim to be an expert on what is going on here. I simply have a felling that when you do a return the airline drops the price for you so they get you as a customer. As if you went and looked at the exact same same two flights and actual one way tickets of separate dates then generally it’s going to cost more than the return. So this throws a spanner in to the works with how tickets are priced with classes. So my theiry is the airlines give you a discount if you book a return.
So a little bit about why one way tickets or return sections are the way to go.
Lets say you wanted to fly from your home in Galway, Ireland to Townsville, Australia return.
For starters there is no airport in Galway so you have to drive to Shannon airport about 70km away. There are no airlines on the globe that cover this route 100%. Even with code shares you’re going to end up on three or four different flights and airlines.
Looking at prices for a return flight from Shannon, Ireland to Townsville, Australia is about $2,000 making the booking in November for a middle of February departure and a middle of March return. This is when you’d want to go to Australia for the summer.
Let’s back track for a moment.
$2,000! Yes, $2,000 return. That’s insane.
No one in their right mind should pay that. But I can guarantee you that so many many people would blindly book this as they don’t know better. But not you! Lets break this down and try to cut the cost in half.
Booking in something like this has horrible written all over it. So much that even Google Flights and SkyScanner won’t let me pull up the monthly view pricing.
So how do you fix this and get a better deal? You already know the answer. But lets run through an example. And it doesn’t matter where you live. You just need to break down your flights until you reach hubs.
A little bit of common sense and logic also goes a long way. If you’ve read my other MEGA guide on planning your trip to Europe you’ll know about Rome2Rio.com as a way to search for ways to travel Europe. You’ll also know from my list of hubs or you might have figured it out yourself. Dublin is a hub, so is London and so is Brisbane in Australia.
So lets break this flight down without even doing one way ticketing for the sections we need.
We started at $2,000 return Shannon, Ireland to Townsville, Australia.
A quick search booking this trip from Dublin brings it down to about $1,500. How do you get to Dublin? Rome2Rio.com tells me there is a bus for about €15 each way. Spend €15 and save $500. Yes please! I did look at Shannon to Dublin but no airline does that flight. You’d end up going Shannon > London > Dublin and that is stupid.
What about if you’re travelling and don’t know the area? Well I don’t personally know anything about Galway or Shannon. Rome2Rio.com or Googling to find out how to get to another city without a flight will only ever take you a few minutes to figure out.
Breaking it down again with a return flight to London (another hub) brings the cost down to about $1,100. I quickly found a $100 return flight form Dublin to London on British Airways. So we know luggage is free as British Airways is not a budget airline. This trip is now $1,200.
Lets remove Townsville and fly to Brisbane instead. I quickly found London, England to Brisbane, Australia return for $886 on Emirates. Add in that other $100 for the Dublin > London return and round it off a bit for some even numbers and we at $1,000 return.
After playing around with getting to Townsville some more it seems that getting to Townsville is really no difference in price. So this part would be up to you. It’s going to cost you another $200 return to get from Brisbane to Townsville so fly to Brisbane and spend some time there first or go right to Townsville.
Now for the kicker. So far in this example I somewhat broke the rules I’ve taught you. You’re supposed to break down the flights. London to a hub in Asia. Then a hub in Asia to Australia. I only ended up breaking it down in Europe. And I still got the price to $1,200.
What if I broke it down with one way flights the whole way there and back. After playing around a little bit with multiple one way flights to fly from Dublin > London > Singapore > Brisbane > Townsville and back I came to a total cost of $1,150.
So in this case the one way ticket rule 100% wins. It’s not a prime example of one booking one way tickets to save you another $400 on doing returns on each section and getting the whole trip for say $800. 100% one way tickets came in saving me $50 only.
But considering I spent about 10 minutes looking at how to break down this flight and I started at $2,000 and got it down to $1,200 with breaking up the ticket to London to Australia return and then a separate return for Dublin to London I’d say it’s well worth your time to book things separate.
That’s really it! You now have what you need to book any flight you want and break it down to end up making it cost potentially less than half of the original price with a little flight hacking and creativity.
This next part I actually wrote a day later. While I was finishing up this guide I figured I’d check the flight again and see what I came up with.
I managed to find $1,050 for Dublin to Townsville return without any one way or one way returns factored in.
But wait didn’t that just make what taught in this guide pointless? No, not at all.
What I’m teaching here is not really so much the process of booking flights cheap. It’s more about getting you to think outside the box and be open minded.
What did I just do when I found the $1,050 flight? Well I simply put aside the fact that based on my knowledge and experience a return direct shouldn’t work. But guess what it did. That is what I’m teaching here. Be open to different options. That’s what it really breaks down to.
Check the full flight as a return on one ticket.
Break it down to with one way returns.
Break it down with one way tickets only the whole way there and back.
Be open minded about your bookings and you will win.
When I tried to find the flight for $1,050 again today (a day later) it was gone. So it was likely the last ticket of it’s class being sold. Everything today is $1,300 to $1,500 if you fly Dublin to Townsville return on one ticket the whole way for good airlines.
Then I checked London to Townsville and what do you know I got $1,050. Add in $100 for the Dublin to London return and we are at a better price then yesterday for the $1,200.
At the end of the day explore all your options. If you never explored our options you’d still be at $2,000 return from Shannon to Townsville return.
As you are dealing with one way flights for the majority of the time you need to be careful about not missing flights.
This is easy to deal with. Break your trip down so you spend a few nights in each destination. Have a little sense of adventure about your trip. Don’t just go somewhere as fast as you can and not see what’s on the way. Make what’s on the way part of your trip.
You could end up going to the most random destinations. Imagine all the places in between Europe and Australia you could stopover at to make part of your trip. There are hundreds of places to fly to.
If you really don’t want to do this then just give yourself one night in each city and by ‘one night’ I mean 24 hours. In all my years travelling the worst I’ve been delayed was 12 hours going from Manila to Los Angeles. Normally long delays are not more than a few hours. So you are safe with a 24 hour gaps.
If you get a worst case and get a 12 hour delay you’ll still arrive with 12 hours to spare before your next flight. If you just do over night you might run the risk of missing a flight if the original flight got in late and the next one is in the morning. So give yourself that 24 hours between flights.
In the example above you won’t have to worry about this in Europe. Get yourself on the bus to Dublin with plenty of time to spare. Then your next stop is Singapore. A cheap hotel or a hostel is not going to cost you much. Or if you’re a true trooper just sleep at the airport but that’s not something I’d recommend!
Bonus Travel Hacks
Here are a few extra bonus travel hacks on how to book cheap flights!
Fly Anywhere with Price Maps
You already know about being flexible with dates and destinations with what I’ve covered.
Want to take it one step further? What if you were looking for ideas on where to go. You have one month for a holiday but have no idea where to vacation. Lots of flight search engines now offer price maps. I’ll run through how to do this with Kiwi.com and how to find cheap airline tickets using their awesome tool.
Head over to Kiwi.com first. Then in the from section put in your closest hub. In this case I’ll use London. Leave the To section blank or if ‘Anywhere’ is auto-populating that field then that’s perfect.
Then select your dates. I’m going to select all of April so leaving on April 1st and returning on April 30th. Then the map will start to show the cheapest places to travel in the world based on your dates as you move the map around. See what I mean below.
You could easily play around with this tool and see if the cheapest time of year to fly changes. There might be things that do come up but remember that it still comes down to classes for ticket.
Here are some return great deals in Europe to find discount international flights using this method of cheap flights by date not destination.
Want to head to Asia or Australia instead? How about India for less than $500 return. Or how about Bali for $829 return?
Maybe the Americas is your thing. LA for $650 return. Crazy! What about Mexico for only $400 each way. Wow! Heading down to Brazil is only $1,000 return.
This is just your starting point.
You would then take your new found knowledge you’ve learnt from my guide and get to work breaking the price down even more. I literally looked at the Departure and Return dates for LA and knocked off $150 bringing it down to $500 by changing the dates on either side by two days.
You an then break it down more checking separate one way tickets and playing with everything else you now know about getting the price down.
I love this tool. It lets me really see what’s out there in the world and where I can go for cheap.
Kiwi.com Flight Protection
Kiwi.com actually does a lot of the heavy lifting for you with what I’ve talked about in my guide. What it basically does is book in multiple one way flights for you automatically. If you did this normally you’re at fault if you miss a flight.
You might be thinking that I mentioned wait a day in between major long haul flights. Well that rule doesn’t apply with Kiwi.com as if you miss a flight due to another flight being delayed they will actually put you on the next flight and sort out new tickets for other flights that need to be re-booked if you can’t get on the next one. If they can’t get you on a flight right away then they will pay for your hotel over night and get you on a flight the next day.
Sounds to good to be true? Well it’s not. They have you covered. Why? When you book with Kiwi.com then all the flights that are not at least 3 apart don’t show up in the results.
Because the reality is that the amount of times they will have to re-book flights are so minimal even with only a three hour layover. It makes it worth it for them to offer this as it brings them so many customers! I’ve used the site more times than I can remember to book flights to have that peace of mind and it’s great knowing you are covered. They are a booking engine at the end of the day so they charge a premium for using their site. It’s up to you if having that safety net is worth the extra cost.
If you are really creative you can do all your research for the flights you want to be on. Then try to use their Multicity booking option so you get to book in all the one way flights you wanted to be on in the first place but through Kiwi.com so you’re then protected if you miss a flight. This way you will be covered 100%.
One thing I will say is that as you’re technically booking one way flights the whole way you will need to pick up your luggage and recheck it after each flight.
Remember near the start of the guide we talked about ticket classes?
I want to cover something that will help you understand why changing your ticket is a bad idea and if you really have to do it how to do it with minimal damage.
Lets say you want to do a date change. Well the airline likely has a date change fee. Plus if all the tickets in that class are sold out you need to go up one class and pay that fee. Each airline is different but say it’s $150 to change the class. You are up for a $150 fee plus the administration charge the airline sets for a date change.
What if you got a really good deal originally and the next class is not available and you have to go up three classes from your original booking. Then each class change gets the $150 fee so in this case that’s $450 plus the date change fee.
This is why you can end up paying more for a date change on a ticket then just booking a new ticket all together. As all those class changes add up to more that the cost of the current tickets being sold in a higher class. If you need to make a change then follow this simple guide:
- Call the airline and find out the date change cost. Also ask if you’ll get a refund if you just cancel the ticket instead. Find out how much money you’ll get back.
- Use all the methods in this guide to see how much it will cost to book a new ticket with your new dates
- Do some maths to see what is cheaper:
- How much will it cost you to do a date change?
- How much is it to book a new ticket?
- How much will you get back if you just refund a ticket.
This will give you some ideas to play with.
It might work out better to refund a ticket and get some money back and then book another cheaper deal you find. Or it might be best to just pay for a date change. Every situation is going to be different. But what you should take away from this is to not just accept what the airline has to say about the date change cost. You are in control not the airline!
Don’t do what I did a long time ago before I knew anything about flight hacking and have a ticket booked from Australia to USA to Canada to USA and then back to Australia. With a bunch of cities in between in USA and Canada also.
I can see you shaking your head right now. I know. I’m an idiot. I know it…
I made changes to that ticket about three times if I recall correctly. I didn’t know anything about what I know today. So I had a multi-city ticket booked and the changes cost me over $1,500 or to change so many tickets! I look back at this and want to punch myself in the face. Don’t be the old me!
What if you are up for a $500 change as you need to leave three days later as something came up and someone you were travelling with can’t leave till three days later? Another option can be not to waste that $500. Just take your original flight and spend a few days by yourself where you were going anyhow. That $500 you would have wasted will pay for those few days anyhow and you’ll likely have money left over and not even spend it all!
Don’t want to go solo? Check into a hostel and you’ll make new friends instantly.
Pay For Tickets In Other Currencies
Before you go ahead a book a flight consider checking the foreign versions of the airlines website to see if you can save money. I once booked a ticket on Norwegian and saved over $100. This is an interesting time with exchange rates fluctuating a lot.
Normally you can at least save a little bit but be sure to factor in the exchange rate and currency conversion fees. If you are going to save less than 3% on the ticket then it’s actually going to cost you more unless you use a card with foreign currency conversion fees.
Why does this work?
Well it’s quite simple. If someone is booking a flight from Asia to America the airlines knows that overall people have less money in Asia. But if someone visits the English site and is looking to pay in GBP or USD they know that person has more money generally. Is the discrimination? Yes it can be seen that way against the Westerner but hey why don’t you use it to your advantage?
If an airlines website can have its language and currency changed then it’s worth looking at the same flight in another currency. You might find no savings. You might find you save 10% due to exchange rates or you might get a awesome deal and save $100+ as there was a promotion that was only running for another currency and language.
Use Google Chrome when swapping languages. To do this just right click anywhere on the page and select “Translate to English” so you can actually navigate the site.
Here is an example of what I mean. This is Malaysia Airlines site showing up in the Thai language and the options to change the currency and language are found in the top right corner.
Hidden City Ticketing
Often overlooked but something that you can take advantage of is called “hidden city” flights or ticketing.
Flights can connect in a city you want to fly to but it’s actually cheap to fly to a city further away. So what you do is book the ticket to a city that is further away and just get off the plane and leave the airport when you get where it is you actually want to go.
For example. You found a flight that departs New York, stops over in London and keeps going to Frankfurt, Germany. For argument sake lets say it costs $500. If you flew with the same airline from New York to London it cost’s $700. Why? Because London is more popular than Frankfurt. It’s simply supply and demand. The airline still wants to fill up the plane to go the Frankfurt so they have to put a decent deal out there.
So you get on the flight and once you get to London for your stop over you get off the plane head through immigration and you’re in London for $200 less.
This comes at your own risk though…
It’s not exactly illegal. You just didn’t take a flight you paid for and that is your right in the end. People miss flights all the time anyhow. But do tread with caution and don’t check bags as odds are you won’t get them when you get off as the airline is not going to stop operations for you it’s really only a fuel stop.
To make this easy you can use Skiplagged.com. It’s a flight search engine that helps you find these exact deals.
Just a few things to keep in mind thought. What can go wrong?
- You might not be allowed off the plane for some reason. Never have I once had a stop over that was scheduled that I was forced to stay on the plane though. So this is a non-issue. Even if it’s a 30 minute stop over you’ll be able to get off the plane.
- You can technically tell the staff at the check in counter that you want your bags for the stopover. But odds are you’ll never get them if you try this especially for a short stopover. Only take carry on.
- If the airline suspects you are playing the hidden city ticketing game and you have air miles with the airline they might get forfeited. I’ve never actually heard of this happening. It’s just a rumor that got around I believe.
So I say once again. Use this at your own risk. If you’re going to save a few bucks it’s probably not worth the hassle but if you get a mega deal and save $100+ then give it a try.
Free or Cheap Stopovers
When you’re flying through the home airport of an airline you can generally get a free or very cheap stopover. So why not take advantage.
Emirates is an example of free stopovers. Once you’ve booked your ticket on Emirates you just need to contact your local Emirates office and tell them you’d like to take advantage of the free stopover. They will check availability and then change your tickets for you free of charge. You then get to experience Dubai for one or two nights without having to book a separate flight into Dubai and another one out to stay a few nights.
Considering Emirates stop in Dubai for the majority of it’s flights that are long haul this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of this.
Some airlines will charge a fee for this. Give it a try the next time you fly with an airline though their home airport. If you are considering this then call the airline before you book your ticket and ask them if it’s possible once you book and if it’s free or if they charge a fee.
Follow Airlines on Facebook & Get on Mailing Lists
This one seems quite obvious but is easily overlooked.
Get on Facebook and like all the airlines you like to fly with. Then go to all their websites and get on their email promotions list. After you’ve done this go to Google and search out something like “All Airlines” and look at the whole list to see what airlines you missed but would want to hear from.
I’ve done this myself and everyday I see deals of Facebook and some of them are quite reasonable. I saw one for a major airline the other day that was doing a 50% off end of year sale.
Now imagine if you didn’t know about that promotion and SkyScanner was not picking up that deal. You’ve just gone and booked a $1,000 ticket that you could have got for $500. Is it worth it to follow airlines of Facebook and get on their mailing lists?
Of course it is!
And that’s a wrap folks! You’ve made it to the end of the guide. I hope I’ve helped you understand how to book really cheap flights to anywhere! Let me know if you have any thoughts below in the comments or if you have any questions.
Till next time and my next MEGA Guide!