Getaway Compass

How to Find Cheap Flights

Corfu Boat West Coast

People often hold back from booking a trip because the flight costs, but what if I told you there are ways to find cheap flights? The right flight deal can allow you to go on that vacation that you have always dreamed of. International flights don’t have to cost thousands of dollars. There are so many incredible international flight deals these days that I have to stop myself from booking every deal I receive from Going. If you can be patient and flexible with your travel dates and/or destination, you should be able to find a good flight deal. Continue reading this guide on how to find cheap flights and start planning your next adventure.

Guide to Finding Cheap Flights: Contents

The Best Resources for Finding Cheap Flights

Going

The easiest way to find flight deals is to sign up for Going! With this membership you get flight deals directly to your email for the departing airport(s) you choose. Once you receive a flight deal that works for you make sure to book quickly. With our Going membership we have booked flights from the west coast of the US to Italy and Greece in the $500s, Asia in the $400s, and Costa Rica in the $200s. You can save a lot of money if you plan your trip starting with a flight deal.

Volterra
We flew to Italy for only $500 from Phoenix, Arizona

Google Flights

Google Flights is easy to use and offers several ways to search for cheap flights quickly. If you have a specific date you want to travel and a destination that you want to travel to, you can sign up for flight alerts and Google will notify you when the price changes.

Note: Screenshots below are from google.com/travel/flights to demonstrate how to find cheap flights using Google Flights.

If you are set on the destination but are flexible on dates: 
Input your origin and destination and use the calendar feature to find the cheapest dates to travel to your destination.

Find Cheap Flights on Google Flights Search
Search for cheapest dates google flights

If you know the dates you want to travel but are open to different destinations: 
Select the origin and the dates that you want to travel. In “destination” input either the country or continent that you want to travel to or leave this field blank to search anywhere. This will show you a map with the lowest prices to fly to different destinations from the origin you chose. You can drag the map around to see flight deals for different areas. You can also filter by number of stops, airlines, duration, and more.

Google Flights Search Origin to Open Destination
Map to Find Cheap Flights in Google Flights

Skyscanner

Skyscanner offers a great way to search for flights across airlines to find the best prices.  There are several ways you can search for flights depending on what you are looking for. You can search for a specific destination and see the cost for different dates to help you decide when to travel. Another option is to search specific dates and keep the destination open to see a list of destinations with the cheapest flights on these dates. 

When you are ready to book, Skyscanner will show you options for booking the flights including booking directly through the airline or through third parties that may have lower prices. If you decide to book with a third party you should note that there could be implications with a third party ticket if there are any delays or cancellations as ultimately the third party that you booked through is responsible for helping you with any problems.

Tips for Booking Cheap Flights

The Best Time to Book Flights

Domestic Travel:
If you are traveling within the United States, try to book your travel about 2 months in advance as that is when prices tend to increase. If it is a major holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, book your flights at least 3 months in advance because flight prices start to increase early for holidays. Flight prices fluctuate and booking early doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get the lowest price. Sometimes booking a flight too early can lead to higher prices.

International Travel:
For international travel if you want to go to a specific destination it is best to book a few months before. If you are flexible on when and where to go know that flight deals can pop up as soon as a week out for international destinations. Planning your adventure starting with a flight deal can help create a much more affordable vacation.

Expand Your Flight Search to Bigger Airports

Galapagos Espanola 4
We flew from LAX to Ecuador since it was cheaper than flying from Phoenix

Check flights to all airports near your final destination to find the best deals. It is typically cheaper to fly into a larger international airport rather than a small local airport. Also, you are more likely to find nonstop flights to your destination to and from larger airports.

If you live in a city that doesn’t have the best international flight deals, you can always consider flying out of a nearby city that you can drive or fly to. Typically larger airports have better flight deals, especially internationally. It is easier to book a flight out of a city that you can drive to so that you don’t have to rely on a separate flight itinerary to get there. 

If you do need to fly to the airport where your international itinerary starts, keep in mind that if you have separate itineraries you need to allow for enough time between flights in case there are any delays. United States airports that typically have the best international flight deals are LAX, SFO, JFK, IAD and BOS. We went to Ecuador a few years ago and the flight was $800 from Phoenix but $400 from Los Angeles so we bought a separate flight to Los Angeles for $150 and flew from there.

Consider the Cost of Bags When Choosing a Flight

Many airlines today charge for a checked bag, carry-on bag, or both. Make sure to check the cost of adding bags before booking the ticket because although it might seem like the cheapest option the cost of bags could make the flight more expensive. 

The size restriction of carry-on bags varies widely depending on the airline. Typically, airlines in the US have larger carry-on size restrictions than airlines in Europe. Make sure you check the carry-on size restrictions for the airline before you book the flight to prevent having to pay extra at the gate for an oversized bag.

Understand Budget Airlines- Don't Fall For Hidden Fees

There are budget airlines which offer significantly cheaper flights but the ticket doesn’t include anything but your seat on the plane. For many of these budget airlines anything else that you want costs extra such as food, water, a blanket, and headphones. If you like to be able to choose your seat and bring luggage these budget carriers might not be the best option for you. Additionally, their cancelation policies are usually not flexible, so you would forfeit the cost of the flight if you had to cancel.

For these carriers both a carry-on bag and a checked bag can cost extra. If you don’t intend to bring anything but a backpack it could be a good deal, but if you add the cost of bags it could outweigh the benefit of the budget airline ticket. Also, these airlines always weigh your bags so it is important that your bags are under the weight that they allow. If the bags are overweight you will have to pay higher fees at the airport when checking your bag. The best way to ensure that your bags aren’t overweight is with this handheld luggage scale. We bring this on every trip to ensure our luggage is below the weight so we don’t have to move things around in the airport or pay extra fees.

The Most Important Thing to Know When Booking International Flights

Avoid booking one-way flights for international trips to/from the US. Instead, look for round-trip or multi-city to get a better price and flight. It is usually significantly cheaper to book a round-trip international flight versus booking separate one-way flights. To do this you would have to return to the same international destination you initially flew to in order to fly back to the US. Another option you can look into is multi-city flights, with the first flight from your origin city to your initial destination and the second flight from your final destination back to your origin.

Get the Best Seats on Your Flight (Without Paying More!)

New Zealand from Plane
We got window seat for our flight from Fiji to Auckland, New Zealand without paying more

For some airlines such as Delta if you wait to choose a seat at check-in instead of paying in advance, you can often still end up with a window/aisle seat. If after checking in you get assigned a seat that you don’t like, keep checking the seating map up until your flight as seats can clear. 

If the airline lets you choose your seat, make sure to do a little research to choose the best seat without spending more money. Always start with looking up the plane on SeatGuru where you can see which seats are recommended and which seats you should stay away from. As a general rule, stay away from bulkhead seats, especially if they are next to the restroom. You might have extra legroom, but people will constantly be standing next to you waiting in line for the restroom or stretching their legs. You will also be required to put your bags in the overhead bin during takeoff and landing. 

You are more likely to have empty seats around you if you choose seats in the second half of the plane. When you check-in for your flight always see if there are better seats available. If you are unable to change your seat at check-in, ask the gate agent before boarding if they have a different seat they can assign you. International flights aren’t always full, so it’s very possible they can change your seat.

Bonus Tip: If you are traveling with one other person, choose the window and aisle seats so you are more likely to have an empty middle seat in between. If there happens to be a person assigned to the middle seat you can always switch with them so you can sit together.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

GETAWAY COMPASS
Reut and Zack Elopement-5

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