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9 Tips to Book Cheap Flights

JalanJalanMen! - Where can I find cheap flights? Finding the cheapest flights has become almost a competition. Booking flights has become easy. But finding the best flight for yourself, preferably the cheapest, is a challenge.

"To Hawaii for 300 euros? How did you do that?"

Well, I also asked myself this question at first when friends or colleagues spontaneously made a "bargain" when booking flights. Because the most expensive part of the trip is often the plane ticket.

That's why I've taken the trouble to write down my experience and tips for you so that you too can find cheap flights. I have acquired a number of tricks and tips over the years that, surprisingly, not everyone knows.

Incidentally, I prefer direct flights and would rather pay 100 euros more. But this has only been developed in the last few years.

My tips to find the cheapest flights

Are there any insider tips when it comes to booking a flight? There are many rumors circulating when it comes to making a bargain. From deleting cookies in the browser to booking a flight on a Wednesday. 

Here are my tips and how to go about searching for flights. The more and more often I fly, the more important it is to get to my destination as quickly and as possible as possible. Preferably with a night flight. I am happy to pay 100-200€ more for plane tickets. But I'm also not a student or trainee who has to pay attention to every cent. Happily, that time is long gone.

1. Book flights early

I'm spontaneous and don't like to plan very much. But planning and booking early really pays off. Last minute bargains are very rare.

Rule of thumb for domestic German flights: According to a studio, the flights are cheapest if you book about 6 weeks in advance.

According to this study, the tickets are then 40-50% cheaper than on the day of departure. The prices increase rapidly as the departure approaches (empirical values are 21 days, 14 days, 7 days and 3 days before departure).

For long-haul routes (particularly when traveling during popular travel times), you should monitor the prices for flights beforehand.

Example: Japan during the cherry blossom season. If we hadn't been so spontaneous here and had checked for flights more than 3 months before departure, we could have saved at least €300-400 per person (direct flights, with flights with a stopover it would have been less, but definitely more expensive).

2. Flexibility pays off

Be flexible about the day of departure and arrival. The cheapest day of departure is not always (as is often recommended) a Wednesday, but often Friday. However, only early in the morning or late in the evening. for flights within Europe, Monday is the cheapest return flight day. Experience has shown that Sunday is the most expensive. But if you come back from a long distance trip, Sunday is often the cheapest.

Therefore: Take your time and check exactly what the flights cost 1-2 days earlier or later. You also have to be flexible with the departure times. Almost all flight search engines now offer to display a full month so you can see how flight prices vary day by day.

3. Avoid peak travel times during vacations

Peak travel time is vacation time. Demand is high , tickets are scarce because everyone wants to travel. If possible, avoid school holidays or public holidays or travel from another federal state in which there are no holidays yet.

Also check in the country of arrival whether there is a public holiday or vacation time.

4. Use flight search engines

The best way to find cheap flights (and also the fastest way) are so-called flight search engines. They search all airline platforms and websites to find you the cheapest offer or the fastest flight.

I prefer direct flights and avoid having to change planes more than once if possible. The time lost when changing trains is immense. The chance that your luggage doesn't make it is just as great.

In general, flights with 1-2 stopovers are of course cheaper. So I leave it up to you to decide what is more important to you: save time or save money.

I recommend these flight search engines (exactly in this order):

  1. Google Flights
  2. Skyscanner
  3. momondo
  4. Kiwi.com
  5. kayak

The best search engine for a first overview is Google Flights. You can easily specify multiple departure airports, open jaw flights and alternative nearby destination airports. The search is very simple and clear. Nevertheless, I noticed that not all airlines are always listed.

The search engine for joints is simple and really easy to use. As usual, you enter your departure airport, your destination and select a specific date or "flexible travel dates". If you mouse over the date, the search engine will show you the cheapest day of the flight ticket.

You can even see how much a First Class flight would cost.

You can also add other departure or destination airports. Sometimes it is worth driving to another airport. For me, Stuttgart and Frankfurt are practical. I always look for departures from Stuttgart and Frankfurt and then decide which one to choose.

What is the difference between Google Flights and Skyscanner or Momondo?

The usual flight search engines get the prices from travel agencies. As a result, these are not always up to date. In contrast, Google Flights accesses airline data directly. Google claims it can beat any offer with the cheapest flight.

You also have to be careful with the flight search engines, as there are sometimes high fees when paying by credit card, bank transfer or PayPal when booking.

This was the case with the last flight that I helped friends to book and we looked up another cheap provider via Skyscanner that did not charge high fees for the transfer.

5. Book with or without luggage?

It is cheapest to fly if you only travel with hand luggage. Not a problem in Europe, but often a big one on long-haul flights, since you are usually on the road longer.

In addition, there has recently been the problem that flight search engines show you the cheapest price, but not that this supposedly cheap flight ticket does not contain any baggage to check in.

Happened to me looking for cheap USA flights (Frankfurt - New York). Skyskanner showed me really cheap tickets with KLM, AirFrance (operated by Delta). I booked this flight for 2 friends. In retrospect, it turned out that Delta didn't have any baggage with them to check in. The confusion is great.

According to the website, luggage can only be booked at the airport when checking in. The info on how much it costs varies from $50-$80 per flight. Bingo.

The next day I booked another flight for a friend. This time the first flight was already sold out and surprisingly the cheapest was with Lufthansa. Except that they now also offer flights with hand luggage only.

I booked anyway, because Lufthansa gives me the service of being able to book my luggage directly for €50 per flight. Excellent! So this was still the cheapest direct flight from Frankfurt to New York (and back).

So: Pay close attention to whether the price only includes hand luggage. All flight search engines are working on a solution as they are aware of this problem and don't want to upset searchers.

6. Use the Google Flights proximity search

As you can see in the screenshot  , you can directly display the airports in the vicinity. Use this function.

Example: Nuremberg . Here, a departure from Munich or Prague could also be worthwhile, as in the example mentioned in the introduction with the cheap flight to Hawaii (departure from Prague was the cheapest).

Check: Test a different departure and destination airport or arrival and departure city. These do not necessarily have to be the same. Sometimes this allows you to fly up to 50% cheaper.

7. Check the prices directly on the airline websites

Immediately after the flight search engines, I go to the website of the airline with the cheapest price. Sometimes you will find the cheaper price. Unfortunately, not very often anymore, since the flight search engines often have contracts with airlines (allegedly) so that they can offer the cheapest tickets.

Example booking via flight search engine: I found my flight from Jordan via Dubai to Denpasar (Bali) for more than half less at kiwi.com . At Emirates directly it would have cost twice as much.

I also found my flight to Florida at Skyscanner half cheaper than at Lufthansa direct.

Example booking with an airline: I booked my direct flight to Japan directly with Lufthansa, although I fly with ANA. This has the advantage that Lufthansa showed the lower price and I was able to pay part of it with miles.

Note:  In the event of a rebooking, you will have the least stress if you book directly with the airline.

8. Save with one-way tickets

Ok, one-way tickets usually cost as much as the return flight together. Sometimes (though very rarely) it pays to book two separate one-way tickets . Since my trip to Mexico , I always check whether the flights are cheaper if I book the outward and return flights separately . This is really very rare, but it has happened to me and I was able to save over 150 euros on direct flights.

However, these are usually more expensive. From time to time you are lucky like we were on our flights from Frankfurt - Cancun and Cancun - Frankfurt with Condor.

9. Use mileage earning programs

In the meantime it has become really difficult to earn miles. If you are not yet registered for a bonus program, you should do so anyway. You earn miles with every flight. If you fly regularly or often on long-haul routes, you will quickly accumulate credit, which you can use to get your next flight cheaper, treat yourself to an upgrade or even fly for free.

The fact that there are no really good credit cards for collecting miles in Germany is because the EU has regulated “interbank fees”. This means that banks are no longer allowed to charge such high fees for credit card transactions. That's why there isn't that much money left to invest in miles. It's totally different in America, because they have really good miles-collecting credit cards.

Since Air Berlin went out of business, my preferred credit card for collecting miles has been  Lufthansa's Miles and More credit card . I earn additional miles by paying for my mobile phone bill and other purchases (e.g. Apple Store) with my credit card. Since then the miles have been accumulating very well and I'm hoping to enjoy Frequent Flyer status for the first time this year. Keep your fingers crossed!

I now use Miles and More to pay all my bills (mobile phone bill, Amazon, ...). With Miles and More Gold, I get one mile for every euro I spend. Over 60,000 award miles have now been accumulated. This is a long-haul flight to the USA, South America or Asia. Awesome right?

Rudolfus Kikkert
Rudolfus Kikkert Interest In City Tourism

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