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How To Find Cheap Flights And Upgrades - Search For Cheaptickets

Updated on January 22, 2011

Everyone wants to know how to find cheap flights. We all want to travel on a budget, fly to destinations near and far - on the cheapest ticket possible. And there's nothing wrong with that. Yet despite the sheer volume of online travel sites - sourcing the lowest priced flights is not always an easy task.

This guide will show you how to find cheap flights - in as pain free and simple a way as possible. There's so many wonderful offers, so many hard-to-ignore budget flight lures around the 'net that it's understandable that most of us struggle to sift the wheat from the chaff.

I’m not saying ignore offers relating to cheap flights – you never know. But in my experience, I’ve yet to book a flight as a direct consequence of buying into a delicious looking offer. Usually I’ve found that there are hidden costs. The offer is very cheap – it’s the taxes that aren’t. With some, the actual destination range is very narrow.

It’s no good paying £32 for a return flight to Turkey if you wanted to go to the Algarve. Often, you’ll find that it’s not just the range of cheap flight destinations that are mediocre – it’s also the departure airport. There’s only one … and it’s at the opposite end of the country from you.

 

You want to go here - for the best price.
You want to go here - for the best price.

Lowest Price Flights

So, how do you filter out the debris and discover the lowest price flights? How do you avoid wasting time? How do you uncover the elusive cheap flights? If I’m honest, there’s no magic answer but, hopefully, this guide will at least allow you to spend your time doing something that’s far more enjoyable than endlessly trawling the internet for cheap tickets: looking forwards to the actual holiday.

That's always the main focus anytime we plan ahead and start thinking about looking for the lowest price flights available. It is a fun part of the holiday planning but still - looking ahead means booking ahead ... and that's a little part of the secret to locating some great budget airfares.

Finding Internationl Flight Deals

Basically, there are three discount airfare type sites that you should use to find international flight deals:

Direct, flight brokers and aggregators. Think car insurance. You can buy your insurance direct, via a broker or use an aggregator. Travel sites work on the same principle.

The first type are direct sites. These are the official sites belonging to the airlines. British Airways or EasyJet are two examples. They are simply the ‘store front’. The place where you can access the service or product that you are looking for.

Although they work with aggregators and brokers, they still sell direct. They are worth checking out and using as a means to compare. They can, at times, be the cheapest option and occasionally do throw up some very cheap flights.

International Flight Deals

You can sometimes find insanely cheap flights on aggregators, otherwise known as screen scrapers. These are simply feed reader sites. They collect data together, via web application software then collate and produce the data onto one site.

This makes it easier for you – the user – to find what you’re searching for: they’re often the easiest method of finding the flight you are looking for at a price you want to pay.

There tends to be two slightly different forms: the deal finders and live availability – though sometimes both are combined into one.

If you do find cheap flights with an aggregator, you will be redirected to the airline to complete the actual booking.



Last minute International Flights

Check for last minute international flights on broker sites. Basically, brokers work in conjunction with different operators. They are selling you, the consumer, a product that you want, on behalf of a company that supplies the product.

They take a commission for connecting consumer to service provider. This can be included in the price of your flight or be visible – as in you know you’re paying for it because the site tells you so.

Should you find any cheap flights with a broker, expect to pay their commision at some point.



Low Cost Airlines

Use smaller planes. Less seat/leg space = cheaper prices
Use smaller planes. Less seat/leg space = cheaper prices

Secret Seats - In Coach

But we want to be up there for the lowest possible price ...
But we want to be up there for the lowest possible price ...

10 Cheap Flight Tips

Grab a pen - here are your cheap flights tips:

1. Cross check between sites.

Prices can vary quite wildly. If you do find a flight within the range you’re wanting to pay, take a few more minutes to make sure it really is the cheapest. You may find that an aggregator offers a great price – then find it a bit cheaper with a broker.

2. Flexibility.

If you know your dates can be flexible, search with that in mind. If you are committed to specific dates, then you’ll have no choice but to take what you can find. However that doesn’t rule out bargains. Cheap flights are still there - if you look in the right places.

3. Mid-week filghts.

Different days of the week affect the price of flights - mid-week flights tend to be cheaper. Flying on a Friday or Saturday for e.g. will push the price of the flight up. Why? Because most people prefer weekend flights – and the airlines know that consumers will pay more.

4. Airports.

Can you be flexible re airports? If you’re prepared to put a few road miles in – or even train miles – prior to arrival at your departure airport, you may find that your flight costs are significantly reduced. However – do factor in the costs of fuel/train tickets – there may be little or no difference. I once drove to Birmingham for a flight. Another time, I found a couple of cheap flights from London - Heathrow and, after I added the costs together, it was still worth the train journey to travel down to Heathrow.

5. One Way Flights.

Consider one-way flights. You may find that separately booking the outbound and inbound flights reduces the price. I have found this to be the cheaper option on several occasions. My last flight was a return but the one before; I flew inbound/outbound with two different airlines. The combined price of the flights was cheaper than simply buying a return ticket. Don’t be afraid of using this option is it brings back the best available price. Why pay more than you have to?

Vacations ...

Up and away ... you're almost there ...
Up and away ... you're almost there ...

How To Use A Budget Website

Air Travel

Travelling the world shouldn't mean taken out a second mortgage.
Travelling the world shouldn't mean taken out a second mortgage.

6. Book Early.

The general rule of thumb is that if you book early your flights will be cheaper. This isn’t always the case but the majority of times, it is. The longer you leave it the higher the price tends to be. Airlines, as with any other service provider, need to make a profit. Therefore they exploit consumerism where they can. Last-minute flyers are usually prepared to pay more simply because they need to go somewhere at short notice. Also, some airlines offer cheap flights because you’re prepared to book early – though there may only be an allocated number of ‘cheap seats’.

7. Upgrade - not always worth it.

Are you prepared to choose price over comfort? Upgrading costs more. Simple. Space is at a premium on aircraft. The more space you want, the more you’ll pay. If you’re happy to sit in a bog standard seat, you’ll pay less. Some of the short haul airlines don’t always provide a different seat class though – the planes are smaller therefore there’s less space to ‘play’ with, in terms of creating different ‘class’ areas. I have flown with one airline that sometimes provides it’s customers with the same service, that being Air Tap. Imagine my surprise when I was offered free food and drink. A rarity but a plus for the airline. I have flown with them since; purely based on the fact that the in-flight service was excellent. This is the objective of providing the service. Repeat bookers are always better than one-off customers.

8. Low cost airlines.

If you’re flying on a short or mid-length flight, there are now various low-cost airlines to choose from - and they are well you'll find some great cheap flights. Don’t be put off by the term ‘low-cost’. Just because a company will fly you from A to B for a much reduced cost does not reflect on the quality of their fleet, safety and in-flight services. They are governed by the same guidelines as larger or more commercial airlines: all must follow strict safety procedures. I have flown many times with EasyJet and BMI – and neither compromise safety and quality of service as a means of offsetting higher profits.

9. Timing.

You are likely to find that your flight will cost more if you’re particular about the time of day you wish to fly. If you’re prepared to fly late evening or first thing in the morning – your flight will be cheaper. This is just common sense – no-one likes to work unsociable hours. The same principles apply to the airways. I’ve picked flights up for really silly prices – simply because I’ve taken flights that depart before 06:00 or taken a flight after 19:30 in the evening.

10. Right price.

Finally – don’t leave your search too long. It’s better to have a flight booked; at or around the price you’re wanting to pay - than to have no flight at all. Decide on what you’d like to pay. Once you find a flight near to the figure, book it. The cheapest price is an elusive creature. Don’t end up paying a price way above your initial figure simply because you didn’t buy the one at the right price when you found it.

Last Minute Cheap Flights Round-Up

Budget Travel - Tips On Video

So, your cheap flights hints and tips in a nutshell are:

  1. Cross check between sites
  2. If you have flexible dates – use them
  3. Mid-week flights are usually cheaper
  4. Choice of airport
  5. Consider buying your outbound/inbound flights separately
  6. Early booking
  7. Standard seats cost less
  8. Consider low-cost airlines
  9. Time of flight affects the price
  10. Once you find the right price – book it

Conclusion

If you bear in mind most or all of the above – you should be better equipped at finding the flight you want at the price you want to pay - the so called cheap flights. I do believe there are flight bargains out there, providing you know not just where to look but how to look. The cheapest flight I’ve paid was under £64 return. That included all taxes and so on. The most I’ve paid is £168. That’s a big difference. The less you pay for your flights, the more you’ll have when you arrive at your holiday destination. Simple!

 

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    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Absolutely brilliant splendiferous article. I fly a few times a year and do just what you said, pour over websites looking for cheap flights. So, already do all that but for a person who are not travelholics like us, this hub will be a bible. Well done!

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 8 years ago

      Cindy - hey! Thankyou very much for that! I'm shattered - this took me over a week to write out ... edit ... write ... edit ... drove me mad! But I do think the info needs collating. There's a lot of info out there but it's scattered all over the web.

      And my first 'proper' hub - no messing or silly comments!

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      My mommy's a travel agent so I let her pour over the info for me.. It gives me a headache. This was great info I shall come back and read it again..thank you!!

    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 8 years ago from australia

      Great Hub. Airfares are so cheap at the moment, I can fly to the other side of Australia for a 50 dollar deal, would much prefer to fly on your dragon though lol

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 8 years ago

      Candie - Thanks for that. I'm no travel expert. I was writing simply from the regular flyers point of view - what I've picked up because trust me - I really have spent hours and hours hunting for cheap flights!

      Blonde - hey! You're right - airfares aren't too bad at the moment, though there was talk of oil prices pushing up the cost of air travel. I do wonder though if this is to do with the recession? Less money means less travellers which ultimately affects social tourism. Perhaps lower airfares are a way of enticing us to take a holiday?

      lol Kevin is awful to fly on - and it's rather cold ;)

    • thelesleyshow profile image

      TheLesleyShow 8 years ago from US

      Airfares are so low right now! You can really get a wonderful deal if you know how to research. This is great hub! I'm going to share in facebook right now because I think it has tremendous value. Good job.

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 8 years ago

      thelesley - thankyou! I don't do facebook so that's great! And thankyou again for saying that it's got value. I struggled writing this because it took me a while to put it together. I had info and personal opinions plus facts to try and collate into 'easy' reading. It's nice to find that someone my find value in my efforts :)

    • lxxy profile image

      lxxy 8 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Whew, all that mess just to fly somewhere. Boy I'm glad I can astral trip and body hop! =D

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 8 years ago

      lxxy - hey :) And yes - all that mess. It's really easy to lose track of time trying to book a flight to the UK - or the other way - and any help is positive, in my book ;)

    • lxxy profile image

      lxxy 8 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Yup, life needs manuals for mammals. ;)

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 8 years ago

      lxxy - yes ... like intructions on absolutely EVERYTHING!

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 8 years ago

      CabinG - No you don't. You know you love it!

    • profile image

      Janetta 8 years ago

      Very good Frog! informative. You did good :) I've never flown but I have tried to book hotels online. Pain in the arse really. PS every time I see the word 'Travelocity' I sing "dot com" in my head hehe

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 8 years ago from -Oceania

      Great info ,really helpful ,love the videos too! makes me wanna lift my wings and flyyyy..sighs..

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 8 years ago

      Janetta - ta very much :) Never flown? Lucky girl!

      Eagle - hey! Thankyou :)

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 8 years ago

      Great Hub. Airfares are so cheap at the moment can come to see you in lisbon..How are you doing needs expert comment on my hub please

    • Thorne profile image

      Thorne 8 years ago

      Nice Hub love the "Secret Seats" video

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 8 years ago

      Thorne - thankyou very much :)

    • profile image

      Find Hotels 8 years ago

      Nice hub page, I use lots of last min flights that I find very cheap. I often go from Spain to the UK alot so It helps if I can get cheap flights and chap hotels. Never had a problem with a cheap discounted flight yet.

    • swiftman profile image

      swiftman 8 years ago from At Sea

      Nice hub page, I use lots of last min flights that I find very cheap. I often go from Spain to the UK alot so It helps if I can get cheap flights and chap hotels. Never had a problem with a cheap discounted flight yet.

    • profile image

      Air Charter Travel 8 years ago

      Great information, of course you could always go the other way and just rent a private plane, lol.

    • Geoff Braunsberg profile image

      Geoff Braunsberg 7 years ago from Philippi, West Virginia

      This is a good, honest article. Thanks.

      Geoff Braunsberg

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Air charter - thanks very much! Oh and yep - I guess you could!!! Not quite so cheap though!

      Geof - thanks - and you're welcome. The irony of this article is the fact that I really don't like flying!

    • Info Help profile image

      Info Help 7 years ago from Chicago

      Great article on airline travel with some great tips.

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Info - thankyou very much. I hope it helps some folks to weed out the chaff, cut some time down when looking and ultimately find the right price :)

    • pink panther profile image

      pink panther 7 years ago from UK

      Thanks Above Article is really informative and after spending countless hours on the internet i would like to share my findings and for lowest fare for Lagos i have found that www.flightstolagos.uk.com has the best prices!

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Pink - Thanks for the tip!

    • profile image

      jyoti 7 years ago

      realy nice thanks for trip

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      I have denied a comment. From a hubber that's written a simplified version of this one - and left a link straight back to theirs.

      Don't do it, not on my hubs. It takes the michael and I find it bad mannered.

    • Piglitza profile image

      Piglitza 7 years ago from South Africa

      That was really informative! I dont think im going to just rock up at the local flight centre and book a flight anymore, I'm going to definatly do some thinking and research bofore going anywhere! Thanks for sharing! Much appreicated!

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Piglitza - It's always worth comparing from aggregators and direct flight operators. You can and do find some great bargains :)

    • adorababy profile image

      adorababy 7 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      These are wonderful tips. I have always been a big traveler but these saving info never occurred to me. Kudos!

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Great Tips for cheap flights! Your guide is excellent! I learned from the videos too! Cheers!

    • surf traveler profile image

      surf traveler 7 years ago

      Great advice frogdropping, well written and researched hub on cheap flights.

    • Johnvegan profile image

      Johnvegan 6 years ago from USA

      Nice post..I have a plan to go for a vacation...Frog dorpping can you suggest me where to buy a ticket in cheap proce...

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