Finding low cost flights

Flight costs often represent the largest single expenditure for shorter vacations. Even on longer vacations they can be a significant outlay. Finding low cost flights requires certain basic information. Some is obvious. Your starting point and your destination. Others can be more challenging. The airlines that fly your route. Fortunately there are ways to make the whole process easier.

Search engines

Like most things on the internet search engines can make things easier. Google flights for example lets you search and even track prices. There is no doubt they make it easier finding low cost flights but they can only tell you what current prices are.

Basic skills

The first thing you need is to figure out which airlines run flights to your destination. You’ll notice I didn’t mention the departure city. At times it can be more economical to arrange a connecting flight. Unfortunately connecting flights can be false economy. If you have a limited time spending that precious time in an airport waiting lounge isn’t the smartest thing you can do. In spite of this at times the lower prices can make it worthwhile.

This is the point the search engines really can help. Using the search engines take note of the airlines. In addition often airport websites list the airlines that are active. Once you’ve made a list of airlines it’s time to sign up with the airlines. Usually the airlines will have mailing lists. The airlines send out sale offers,announcement of new routes or even new fare classes.

What to watch for

Once you’ve signed up with the airline mailing lists you will start receiving sale announcements. Finding low cost flights means finding the lowest total price. Not the lowest headline price. More and more airlines have unbundled services. BA for example has started offering long haul flights with no checked baggage allowance. If you can fly carry on only offers like this are well worth checking. If on the other hand you require a checked bag (or any of the other extra cost services) make sure the total cost is really cheaper.

 

In addition make sure the airports are convenient. Saving money on a cheaper flight can end up more expensive over all if the airports require expensive transfers. Some airlines use secondary airports that are fairly remote from your destination.

Off season

If you’re dates are at all flexible you can often save quite a bit traveling off season. Avoid school holidays or long weekends. If all your friends are thinking of traveling you can expect many others to have the same thought. That means full planes. No sales. You can also risk higher lodging costs. Traveling offseason not only means lower prices but smaller crowds.

Watch for

Some routes are heavily frequented by business flyers. These routes often have flights that leave or arrive early morning. The early arrival allows the business traveler to fly in and have a meeting before flying back home. The problem is business travelers aren’t that interested in finding low cost flights. Those time slots that are convenient for business flyers are often much more expensive. Look at the various time slots during the day. Some time slots can be much cheaper. Don’t ignore that early departures or late arrivals may result in limited transit options. Make sure the flight saving isn’t offset by the requirement for an expensive transfer.