Okay, Okay, I know this is the typical travel blog post but don't roll your eyes just yet. Everything I'm going to list are the steps I take to find the cheapest flights possible. Here's the deal: sometimes they work great and other times not as great as I would hope, but they are all worth your time and effort to save a significant amount of money on your next flight.
1. BE FLEXIBLE.
This will always be my number one piece of advice for anything travel related that you're trying to save a buck or two on. When booking a flight, be flexible on the days you travel. This can mean the difference of $400 from flying out on a Monday versus a Tuesday. Be flexible on your times as well. The pickier you are about the time you arrive or depart could mean a high cost at the end of booking. Be willing to take the red eye flights. Also, consider all airports around you within a 2 hour driving distance. Major airports tend to have higher ticket costs compared to smaller, regional airports.
2. SET ASIDE TIME TO RESEARCH
If you really want to find the cheapest flight out there for your destination, you may have to do some more work than just a single engine search. Spend some time browsing multiple travel based search engines to compare prices. Two of these I'm constantly scouring are www.google.com/flights and www.momondo.com (I tend to favor this one more since it pulls in discount airlines). Check these search engines in addition to multiple air carrier sites on different days throughout the week. Flight prices change throughout the week and tend to run the cheapest on Tuesdays.
3. SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTERS
I'm sure you're probably thinking of skipping this step to avoid all the spam. Trust me, I feel you, and avoided doing this for awhile before finally caving. Because I caved, I was able to snag a $198 round trip flight from NJ to Iceland. I wouldn't recommend signing up for every notification out there to avoid a flooded inbox, but pick a few airlines that you tend to fly the most with and sign up to receive email notifications. You check your email everyday, I'm sure, but probably not airline websites, so it's a good way to stay informed of any special deals without spending the time going to each site. I receive notifications from WOW Airlines, Frontier, Allegiant, Emerites, and Airfare Watchdog. Obviously, you can opt out of these emails at any time, so if you know you'll be flying a particular airline, sign up while you search for tickets and then opt out once you return from your trip. There's also an app for that (of course), it's called Hitlist
4. TRAVEL IN THE OFF SEASON
Traveling in the off season has many benefits, including cheaper flights. The "off season" refers to the time that the destination experiences less tourist traffic due to it not being the ideal time to travel there, mainly because of climate conditions. Along with cheaper airfare, the location will be less crowded with tourists, will have cheaper services (car rentals, tours, accommodations), and will offer a view of the destination that not as many people experience. The off season varies depending on the location.
5. REFRESH YOUR COOKIES
The computer kind...and the chocolate chip kind, while you're at it. Cookies save your search information and websites use those cookies to determine how many people and who is viewing what information. Basically, if you continuously view the same flight information, the price will potentially increase the more you view it. It's basically a way that company websites take advantage of the demand.
I'd love to hear if you utilize any of these tips and how it works out for you!
Happy searching and happy flying!