Getting the cheapest price for a flight can often feel like you need to spend hours browsing different websites checking prices left, right and centre.
Well luckily, I’ve done the hard work for you and kept the process as simple as possible, ensuring as few clicks as possible!
Here’s my go-to plan for the cheapest price every time you a book a flight.
1) Book as early as possible for the best chance of lower prices
Flight prices are based on demand and are controlled by an algorithm. Once flights start getting booked up and less are available, the prices tend to rise.
So, booking as early as possible – even on the day a flight is released – means the algorithm has less to work with.
Flights are usually released 10-11 months ahead of time. So being organised gives you a great chance of blagging a cheap spot on the plane!
And yes, I’m one of those saddos who tries to figure out how many people on the plane paid more for their flight then I did.
2) Use a flight search engine to do the leg work
When it comes to booking a flight, there are flight search engines, travel agent websites and individual airline websites.
Skyscanner, Google Flights, Kayak and Momondo are all examples of popular flight search engines.
Flight search engines will offer the cheapest flights for your chosen dates and will redirect you to the cheapest website offering the flight.
Now I’m not a magician – if you’re picking expensive times to travel, like summer season, weekends or school holidays – then your better off thinking of ‘cheap’ as more like ‘lowest cost’.
3) ADVANCED ways to reduce the cost of your flight
Now we’re getting into professional cheap flight booking territory!
At this stage, you’ve found a flight you want and got the best price available through the traditional methods.
See if you can get extra money off your flight with Hopper travel app.
Download an app called Hopper. While I don’t rate the app for a lot of the upsells, it often does limited-time vouchers for money off your flight.
Plug in the dates you’ve already narrowed down, and the flights should be very similar to Skyscanner or Google Flights. Then you could get additional money off through Hopper.
For example, they recently had £8 off flights for new users. And if you’re travelling as a couple, they offer a £20 referral scheme so one of you could refer the other and make even more savings by booking your flights separately.
Check cashback available on individual airline and travel websites vs search engine websites.
Cashback on flights can really mount up on long haul flights costing hundreds of pounds.
This is where booking directly with an airline can sometimes beat going through a flight comparison website.
For example, Skyscanner pays a measly 25p cashback on a flight booking!
If you found the cheapest flight was with British Airways and then booked the flight
directly through British Airways website, you can get 0.75% cashback on long haul flights.
Or TravelTrolley currently pays £9 for any flight over £100. So again, start a brand-new booking once you’ve checked it’s the cheapest website and then get some money back. That could save you a few extra pounds.
Quidco and Top Cashback are the two big cashback websites.
Make sure to read the Terms and Conditions and always start a brand new booking – don’t just click through from a flight search engine.
Use a cashback credit card for extra money off.
This tip is only for responsible spenders. I’m not advocating you get a credit card specifically for a flight unless you’re very good at managing your finances.
The Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card American Express offers 5% off purchases for the first 3 months (maximum of £100).
If you’re about to spend hundreds of pounds on flights, time it well and a cashback credit card could give you a decent saving.
And the bonus is that paying with a credit card can be useful for expensive purchases as it comes with Section 75 protection – meaning American Express as well as the airline is responsible for refunding you if something went wrong and the airline was dragging its heels.
4) Checking a bag in? Do a specific flight comparison that includes these costs
These days, to offer the most competitive prices, airlines have a Basic option which includes a carry on overhead bag for long haul flights, or a small under seat bag for short haul flights. And if you can, travelling as light as possible is the best way to travel cheap.
Buying via a travel website and adding a bag can often be more expensive than booking a basic flight and then paying for an extra bag directly through the airline’s website. But that’s not always the case.
Unfortunately, most flight comparison websites do not make it easy to find out this information.
Momondo seems to be the best at breaking down these costs. But you’ll still need to manually add your checked bag at the website you’re booking through, or on the airline’s website once you’ve booked your ticket.
Hopper app is good for specifically finding the costs of baggage for individual airlines.
A checked bag tends to cost around £50-60 per each leg of a long-haul flight. That’s £100-£120 for a return trip.
Budget airline prices can vary quite a bit so it’s worth checking as it could mean that what you thought was the cheapest flight on ticket alone may not end being the cheapest once you add baggage costs.
With a bit of forward planning and the right websites, you can ensure you’re getting the cheapest flight possible for your dream trip.