Never over pay again. That’s the dream right? Airline tickets are a great mystery, perplexing travelers daily as to when, where and how they’ll be at their cheapest. Though there’s no “one” perfect answer there are quite a few ways to ensure that you always score the best deal. Get out the pen and paper, open some empty tabs and get ready, you’re never going to over pay again…

a screen shot of a graph

Use A Price Tracker

One easy, brilliant trick travelers can use to lock in amazing deals is a price tracker. Without any commitment to buy, you can set an alert and get an email when and if a ticket you want reaches a certain price. For example, if I know I want to fly from Bangkok to Hong Kong, and I can only spend $200, I would set an alert for $200. If the price drops that low, I’ll get an email notification and I can book immediately. Both Google Flights and Kayak allow you to do this…

a beach with rocks and trees

Check Deal Sites Regularly

There are tons of awesome deal sites which show only the lowest fares, to places all around the world every day. Sometimes they even show business class fares which are cheaper than economy. The deals don’t often last longer than a day, so you need to be plugged in to get in and you need to think fast. I recommend, and of course our site shows off all the very best.

a passport on a map

Change Your Online Location

Sometimes you can save tons of money on plane tickets just by clicking a box on a website. Airlines offer different prices for the same exact flights based on your purchase location and currency used to pay. Consider it like a locals discount. If you want to book a flight on Thai Airways from Thailand to Hong Kong, booking from New York, you’ll land on the US version of their website, which will charge you more. If you click the top right hand corner and say you’re in Thailand and want to pay in Thai Bhat, you’ll often get a much lower price. Works like this all around the world. Having a credit card with no foreign transaction fees makes this even easier.

a sign with arrows pointing to an airport

Consider Booking Piece By Piece

Airline pricing makes no sense at all most of the time. A flight from New York to Los Angeles through Atlanta booked as one ticket may be far more expensive than booking a flight from New York to Atlanta as one piece and then booking a separate flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles as a separate piece. Wherever you’re traveling, it’s always worth looking at booking each segment separately, or at least some. If you don’t try you’ll never know…

a pool overlooking the ocean

Check For Membership Discounts

Very few people know that certain member organizations open to anyone can save them tons of money on plane tickets. Some are even free. For example, anyone can become a member of AARP for $13 a year, which used to be for retired people. There’s no age requirement now and you save at least $100 on all British Airways economy fares and a whopping $200-$400 on all premium economy and business class fares. I booked a round trip flat bed business class ticket to Europe for just $686 last year thanks to this discount.

an airplane taking off at sunset

Use Points To Hedge Costs. Especially Last Minute…

Many airlines charge only a fixed number of points for flights all around the world, regardless of what the current cash cost is to book. That means that sometimes a flight which may cost thousands using cash will only cost a small fixed number of miles, as low as 4,500 one way. Since the price in miles remains the same, regardless of the cost in cash, it’s a tremendous opportunity to save a fortune without breaking the mileage bank either. Last minute tickets are almost always 6x or more of the normal price so this is a game changer.

a boat in the water next to a building

Adventurous? Try Hidden City Ticketing…

Sometimes a fare like New York to Paris through London is much cheaper than just New York to London. It only works in one direction, but provided you don’t check bags, or have an overnight connection, you could just book the New York to Paris and hop off in London. There are risks, which novices may want to avoid, but if you avoid checking bags and only need it in one direction it can be a huge money saver…

a group of people standing in a hallway

Learn To Add Free Stopovers…

One major way to save money on airline tickets is to avoid having to purchase a second or third costly ticket. Though you won’t find it advertised anywhere, many airlines allow for stopovers along the route of your journey included in the price of a ticket. Many airlines allow these at no additional charge, you just need to know the rules. For example, if Iceland has been on your bucket list, but you’re flying to or from Europe, an airline like Icelandair will let you spend a few days in Iceland for free on the way or the way back. To do this on any airline, consult a travel agent or use the ITA Matrix to find “fare rules”; which state whether or not you’re allowed a stopover and where they are allowed. This works all around the world.

a bed in a plane

Don’t Buy Too Early Or Too Late, Don’t Listen To The Word “Sale”…

The thing about airlines is that they offer “sales” 365 days a year. It doesn’t mean there are necessarily any actual bargains. The best way to get a good deal is to know what prices for your flight routes generally are, avoid booking within 21 days of departure and be weary anytime more than 121-60 days out. If you know that summer airfare from your departure point to your destination is usually $1000 and you see a ticket for $600, don’t hesitate to book. If you see a “sale” fare for $1200, you know it’s not actually a bargain.

a pile of paper money

Overpay? You May Be Able To Get A Refund!

There are some cool apps out there like Yapta and FairFly, which monitor the price you paid. On many airlines if the “best price guarantee” from the airline changes by more than $50 you are eligible for a refund of either the entire ticket amount or at least the difference in price. Everyone likes money back…

a blue and orange airplane taking off

Shop Around, Not All Flights Are On Every Site…

Some airlines claim to offer the best prices by not having their results show up on popular search sites. For that reason, sometimes you’ll want to go directly to airline websites and at the very least, you’ll want to comparison shop between online travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia) etc to see if there are any differences.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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