How to Find Cheap Flights: 5 Steps to Cheap Airline Tickets

We’ve all seen it, that incredibly low airfare for only $79. But how do you actually get it? We’ll walk you through the steps necessary to find the cheapest flights for your next trip.

family flying

1. Research Flights: Understand how airfares work

There are usually well over 100 possible prices for the same route and flight, and prices are adjusted regularly based on booking demand. The lowest price is available for a limited number of seats, and when those sell out the next lowest fares become available. If you’d like more detail about how it all works, we can help you learn more about how airlines set prices.

2. Airfare Alerts: Sign up and track routes

Signing up to track a particular flight route that you are interested in is the best way to stay on top of the fares. Alternatively, you could hop on the computer and start a new search every day, but who has that kind of time? Get in the game and have an email sent to you that alerts you when the fares change. Keep in mind that fares are subject to availability and may no longer be available at the sale price, so the quicker you can act the greater your chances are of getting the sale fare. Sign up for CheapAir FareTracker.

3. Flight Schedules and Routing: Be flexible with your departure and destination

Try searching different routes. The fact is some routes really are cheaper than others. It’s not all based on how far you’re flying either. The more flexible you can be with your departure and destination airports, the more likely you’ll find the cheapest fares. Try nearby airports to see what’s cheapest. For example, flying into Ft. Lauderdale versus Miami can save you $30 or more, and they are only 30 miles apart. Many larger cities have smaller airports that can be cheaper if you’re willing to go a little out of your way. You can also try our MapSearch tool that allows you to put in your airport and see what destinations have the cheapest fares.

shopping online

4. Flight Flexibility: Be flexible with your travel dates.

This is probably the biggest rule to keep in mind. You’ve got your destination picked out and now it’s a matter of finding when those cheap fares are. Remember! There are only a limited number of those sale fares available.

• Aim for the Off-Season

Knowing when to go can greatly reduce your travel costs. Seasonality applies to all destinations. Some destinations are in high demand during the peak summer months and others peak during the winter. It all depends on the weather, regional events, and the tourist seasons for the destination in question. Researching a destination’s off season will turn up real savings.

• The Day of Week matters

Not every day is equal when it comes to flying. Typically the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. That’s because the volume of travelers (demand) on those days is a little lower, which means you’re more likely to discover a cheaper airfare.

• Avoid holidays and special events

Holidays are always a peak time for traveling. Be mindful of where you’re heading and if there are any special events happening assume you’re going to be paying higher fares. For example, the Olympics or the SuperBowl or even sometimes a popular concert will make certain travel spots more expensive. What about a huge convention like Comic-con in San Diego that packs in hundreds of thousands of people? Yep. More expensive airline tickets will follow. Cities across the globe host visitors for all kinds of events and holidays. Avoiding these peak times will reward your wallet.

couple online shopping

5. Booking the Flight: Book at the right time

Did you know that when you buy your flights can greatly impact the prices you find? We’ve done a ton of research and found that there is in fact a “Prime Booking Window” for getting the cheapest flights. Logic suggests that the earlier you book, the cheaper the price, but that’s not always the case. It varies! Booking too early or too late doesn’t always translate into savings. Finding the right time to buy can vary depending on your departure, destination, dates, and more. Read more about when you should buy your airline ticket.

Keep in mind; you can shop with confidence on CheapAir.com. With our exclusive Price Drop Payback program, if the price for the same itinerary goes down any time before your trip, we’ll pay you back the difference in the form of a travel voucher for up to $100 per ticket! Now you can shop with confidence!

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13 Comments

  1. I have searched for months on cheap air for a round trip from Spokane Washington to Bismarck North Dakota. I have had no luck I have used all your tips. In fact at times your prices were higher then going straight to the airline. Any good ideas???

    1. Hi Linda,

      In checking your routing, a good deal on flights from Spokane to Bismarck would be below $395, not including any baggage fees that may apply. I’d suggest aiming for flights as close to that as you can find. The more flexible you can be the more likely you’ll locate the cheapest fares. In checking for flights, the cheapest we’re finding is around $460 per person. Keep in mind, when you purchase flights with CheapAir if the price for the same itinerary goes down any time before your trip, we’ll pay you back the difference in the form of a travel voucher for up to $100 per ticket! Please let us know if you need any help with finding flights.

  2. i need cheap flite for my round trip from dubai to patna India on 18th october and return on 31st december 2015.so please tel me how can i get my ticket cheap

    1. Hi Manjur,

      Good deals for this route are priced below $398. In checking the fares for your dates, we’re finding flight starting from around $375 and up. I’d suggest booking your flight sooner or later to lock in the low rate.

  3. I’m trying to book a multi-destinational flight for 4 people departing on 9/1 (IAH to OGG) then on 9/8 (OGG to HNL) and then on 9/10 back home (HNL to IAH). I’m overwhelmed by the decisions whether to book 2 separate R/T tickets (one being the inter-island trip) or book all together, and then of course the big question WHEN to book! I understand that the time of the year we’re going is considered “off season” so I’m wondering if fares will drop between now and then. Can you please advise me?

    1. Hi Liz, All great questions! I wish there was a one size fits all answer for you. In general, we recommend tracking fares for a bit and then purchasing tickets from 1 to 4 months out for the best prices. You’ll have to experiment with doing a multi-city or two separate round trip tickets. If you use our site, we do our best to get you the lowest available fares. We can do this partly because we can break up an itinerary between airlines. If you are comfortable with that scenario, it will usually get you the best rates. You can tick the multi-city box on our site to see the entire itinerary or search separately. At the moment, it looks like a multi-city itinerary ticket starts around $860/pp. Purchasing separate tickets (at the moment) will cost a bit more (about $60 more per ticket) and you’ll have to return to Maui on the 10th to fly home. So it’s cheaper and more convenient to purchase a multi-city ticket right now. Hope you found this helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with other questions.

      1. Thanks for your prompt reply! I guess I’m just antsy, worried that the fare will spike between now and then rather than stay the same or drop. We’re going to wait and see what they do next month.

  4. Looking for air tickets under $800 per person to OGG -Maui, traveling from Indiana airports: Chicago, Indy, Fort Wayne, or Dayton, OH. 7- travelers with Resort reservations on June 10 – 24, 2017. Willing to travel a few days earlier and get hotel stays. Celebrating a family member grads day.

    1. Hi Patricia, Your best fares are going to be on Alaska Airlines out of ORD, but those best fares are currently hovering around $950 and require 2 stops (total flight time is 22 hours). If you want a better itinerary, Virgin has flights around $1000 and a 12 hour total flight time. Nonstops on United are $1200 (8 hours) and not likely to go down (people prefer nonstops and some people are always willing to pay a premium to not have connections. Maui is a tricky destination for deals (there is no low season to speak of). I have seen fares around $600 in the last few years from LAX, but I haven;t seen such good fares from the midwest in the summer. I do see a smattering of fares in the $650 range in late March, but that doesn’t help in your case.

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