How to Find Cheap Flights in 2023: The Complete Guide to Traveling for a fraction of the cost
Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a globe-trotting novice, in this economy, pursuing budget-friendly airfare should always be at the top of your list. The sobering reality of soaring plane ticket prices frequently pulls us back to earth.
As things stand, airfare prices have risen by 9.6% since the pandemic. For a more precise and current illustration, airfare between April 2023 and March 2023 saw a noticeable increase of 2.9 percent.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you must empty your bank account whenever you book a flight; you just have to know how to find cheap flights.
Luckily, technology has simplified our ability to travel far and wide, allowing us to discover new frontiers and gain a deeper understanding of the world. Securing affordable travel deals might be becoming increasingly challenging but it isn’t impossible. This is where Matt’s Flights steps in.
How Matt’s Flights Can Help You Find the Best Flight Deals
Discover the secret to amazing travel deals with Matt’s Flights – the ultimate free email service for travelers.
Join over half a million subscribers who have saved over $1,000,000 on their journeys and embark on your dream vacation, or indulge in your wanderlust without breaking the bank with discounts of up to 90% on flights.
Stop overpaying on flights. Get the best deal for your trip!
- Save $1,000s on airfare annually
- Get personal 1-on-1 flight planning support
- Save hours of flight planning time
However, that’s not the end of our advice on how to find cheap flights. Keep reading for valuable insights and strategies to help you score the best flight deals and make your travel dreams a reality without breaking the bank.
We’ll spill the beans on the strategies, tools, and insider knowledge to help you snag major deals in your quest for jaw-dropping budget-friendly airfare.
Even the most seasoned travelers will appreciate these tips.
Debunking the Myths of Affordable Flights
For avid deal hunters constantly seeking the best flight bargains, it can be disheartening to sift through dozens of sites and countless articles, videos, and social media posts claiming to reveal “secrets,” only to encounter repetitive and rehashed information.
From clearing your browser’s cookies to creating a booking strategy that revolves around a certain day, those myths beg to be debunked.
The Myth of Booking on a Certain Day or Time
A popular myth among travelers states that there are specific days of the week, like Tuesdays, which guarantee significant savings on airfare, but that could not be further from the truth. To lure in as many readers or viewers as possible, so-called experts will try to perpetuate these misconceptions, creating false expectations and disappointing those who rely on such advice.
While it sounds intriguing to think there is a secret formula to cheaper flights, the reality is that airlines operate on dynamic pricing models, and various factors contribute to airfare, such as demand and supply, competition, and global events.
The Tuesday flight bargain is a relic from an earlier era. Nowadays, fantastic flight offers can be found any day of the week. Even promotions like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Travel Tuesday might feel like savings bonanzas, but they’re more style than substance.
The Myth of Clearing Your Cookies or Using Incognito Mode
There’s a common misconception that using incognito mode can provide you with a modicum of privacy, safeguarding your browsing history from prying eyes and even blocking website tracking methods.
Unfortunately, what it won’t do is magically conjure up cheaper flights. It is important to note that airlines and travel agencies rely on sophisticated algorithms that are incredibly complex. They focus on other, more important parameters, rather than monitoring your online behavior.
Clearing your web browser cookies is another myth that falls into the same basket. Airlines aren’t monitoring your searches and raising prices accordingly, trying to scare you into buying the ticket as soon as possible before it gets pricier than ever.
Not a single one of these myths is helping you in your search; instead, they are hindering your experience and leading you to miss out on special deals that occur throughout the week.
The Myth of Booking Too Early or Too Late
The myth of booking too early often stems from the belief that airlines offer the best deals far in advance. While it is true that some airlines may release promotional fares early, this is not always the case.
Airlines employ revenue management systems that continuously adjust prices based on demand availability and various other factors. So, booking too early may result in missing out on potential fare reductions closer to the departure date.
On the other hand, the myth of booking too late suggests that waiting until the last minute will yield the best prices. While it is true that airlines may reduce prices to fill unsold seats, this is not a guaranteed strategy.
Now, you might wonder how to find cheap last minute flights and whether they are worth it. Unfortunately, last-minute deals are often limited and unavailable for popular routes or peak travel periods.
On that note, airlines often times try to capitalize on passengers who require urgent travel arrangements and are willing to pay a premium for prompt arrival at their destination, so it’s safe to say playing the waiting game is not always a sound option.
Bonus Tip: There are certain golden rules that you should keep in mind when booking flights. For domestic flights, it is advisable to secure your tickets 1-3 months ahead of time, whereas international flights typically call for bookings to be made 3-6 months in advance to secure budget-friendly fares.
Pushing your luck and waiting to book a flight at the last minute can backfire, and you might have to pay an arm and a leg for airfare that usually costs much less.
Don’t rely on myths and fairy tales. Join Matt’s Flights and receive curated deals delivered straight to your inbox.
Book Smarter, Not Harder
With all of those myths out of the way, it’s time to get to the meat and bone of the topic of how to find cheap flights and save a pretty penny.
Savvy travelers embody the three pillars of smart booking: flexibility, choosing wisely, and planning ahead. This “book smarter, not harder” mentality is your secret weapon for grasping budget-friendly, unforgettable travel experiences.
Be flexible with your travel dates, destinations, and airports
Flexibility and Google Flights are your golden ticket to securing the best deals. You can play around with various departure and arrival dates to identify the lowest prices and even consider different destinations or airports within the same region to uncover hidden gems and save money.
Numerous bustling cities offer a variety of airports for travelers to consider. For example, Los Angeles boasts three major airports: Los Angeles International (LAX), Burbank Bob Hope (BUR), and Long Beach (LGB); San Francisco features San Francisco International (SFO) and Oakland (OAK); Miami accommodates Miami International (MIA) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FLL); and the options continue.
When planning your trips, it’s worth checking if your destination has an alternative airport serving the area, as opting for these smaller airports can yield cost savings compared to the primary airport catering to a specific region.
Have a craving for spontaneous adventures, but you are discouraged due to prices? You don’t want to sit in front of the laptop and repeatedly hit the search flights button?
Consider Alternative Routes and Stopovers
Think creatively when planning your next trip to get more bang for your buck! Don’t be afraid to take alternative routes or make strategic stopovers to save up to 40% on airfare. Plus, you’ll have the chance to experience even more before you reach your final destination.
For example, if you’re traveling between Asia and the Americas, why not consider a stop in Tokyo? Not only will you have a chance to see the towering Tokyo Skytree, but you can sample some of the city’s amazing local cuisine too. It’s a win-win!
Time vs. Money: Deciding When to Fly Direct
The answer is not as straightforward as you might think, as several factors come into play. Let’s break down each option’s benefits and potential setbacks and help you make the best decision when booking your next flight.
Direct Flights: Pros and Cons
- Time Efficiency: A nonstop flight significantly reduces your travel time, so this is the way to go if you’re working on a tight schedule or simply dreading long travel days.
- Convenience: You only have to worry about checking in and boarding once, allowing for a more enjoyable and hassle-free travel experience.
- Higher Cost: Direct flights usually come with a heftier price tag, which can be a critical deciding factor for budget-conscious travelers.
- Limited Options: Depending on your route, there might be fewer direct flights available, limiting the flexibility in departure times and airline choices.
Connecting Flights: Pros and Cons
- Cheaper: Layovers can help you land a more budget-friendly fare, leaving you with extra cash to spend on experiences or souvenirs.
- Bonus destinations: If you have time to spare, you can take advantage of long layovers with a quick tour of a new city. Hello, mini-trip!
- Longer travel time: Be prepared for possibly spending hours stuck at the airport, which can be especially irritating if your layover is overnight.
- Riskier: The potential for mishaps—such as missed connections or lost luggage—increases with additional stopovers.
So, how do you reach a verdict? Take a moment to consider your priorities: Are you short on time? Is comfort more important than saving money? Then, do a cost-benefit analysis and weigh a direct flight’s time and comfort advantages against the monetary savings of a connecting flight.
How to Calculate the True Cost of a Flight
The fine print is where the truth lies. Nevertheless, if you want to know what really makes up a ticket, take a look at the math:
A hypothetical return flight costs $245 initially without calculating then taxes and other fees. After adding the passenger ticket tax (7.5%), segment tax ($4.20 per segment), September 11th Tax (5.20), and Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), the ticket price is now $292.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to pull out a calculator each time you are on the cusp of booking a flight. Airlines and search engines include the exact price you must pay, but it’s worth knowing what you are paying for.
Plan Your Trip Strategically for the Best Flight Deals
Don’t wander aimlessly on your adventures – have a game plan! Think of it as your daily to-do list, but with no limits on what you can accomplish, as the more you do your research, the more you can put in the piggy bank.
There are many stories online regarding jet setters that saved big bucks on travel, and they all boil down to research. For example, one savvy traveler found a better deal on a flight just by changing the currency from the US to the New Zealand dollar and saved a whopping 400$ on a $1000 flight.
And sometimes, when traveling in a group, airlines tend to display the highest ticket price when grouping tickets, leading to higher overall costs. How? Well, if seat A costs $300, seats B and C cost $400, and seat D costs $500, all tickets will be priced at $500.
Therefore, book flights individually and then try to connect them during the checkout process. Or if that’s not possible and you don’t end up sitting together, saving a couple of hundred dollars is still worth it.
Instead of letting such tricks impact your firsthand, learn from the experiences of fellow travelers. Doing so lets you embark on your journey without putting a dent in your wallet. A surefire way to maintain a budget-friendly trip is by following the flight-first rule: securing your flight before planning the rest of your itinerary.
This strategy guarantees you’ll snag the most competitive fares, reserve the perfect seat, and pave the way for an unforgettable expedition.
Cheap Flights at Your Fingertips: Sign Up for Airfare Alerts
Get in quickly as the best flight deals pop up, and snatch yourself a deal worth remembering. Many websites and search engines allow users to enable price alerts and get notified as soon as there’s a change.
Alerts are perfect for those that don’t have the time to scour the entire internet for budget-friendly airfares, and with Matt’s Flights, the art and science of finding the best deals becomes a mere simplicity.
Whether you’re planning a domestic or international trip, Matt’s Flights offers incredible flight options that can lead to savings of up to 90%– and the best part is that it’s completely free to sign up!
Stop overpaying on flights. Get the best deal for your trip!
- Save $1,000s on airfare annually
- Get personal 1-on-1 flight planning support
- Save hours of flight planning time
Experience the thrill of receiving the most amazing and cheapest flight and see just how much you can save. Then, if you’re truly impressed with the deals that land in your inbox, and you can rest assured that you will be, consider upgrading to Matt’s Flights Premium for comprehensive travel planning support and even more exclusive benefits.
If Google Flights and other search engines such as Skyscanner are not your cups of coffee but traveling is your passion, having all the best flight deals delivered straight to your inbox does not sound like a bad idea.
The Power of Google Flights
Every unforgettable journey begins with Google Flights – the ultimate travel companion that no one should overlook. As your starting point, this dynamic tool presents a vast selection of airline deals right at your fingertips, and you can even track prices.
All you have to do is input your origin and destination airports, choose your preferences, and you will get notified whenever prices go up or down, which is a true blessing for flexible adventurers or for those that are just waiting for the right moment to hop on the plane and visit their favorite destination without burning a hole in their pocket.
Google Flights’ Secret Weapon: Google offers three versatile flight search options: round-trip, one-way, and multi-city. The multi-city flight option is a brilliant resource for the ingenious traveler, unlocking endless possibilities for exciting and multiple cost-effective adventures.
As discussed above, if you are up for a mini-vacation before you reach your destination, you will create beautiful experiences and pay much less for airfare.
How to Find Cheap Flights With Google Flights’ Features and Functions
Google Flights’ interface greets you with a sleek design and streamlined navigation, ensuring that finding and booking the perfect flight becomes painless. With just a click of a button, you can select your preferred airlines, travel preferences, and filter options to tailor your search results.
Input your dates and start browsing for the cheapest fares, and don’t forget to leverage its super-effective features.
Google Flights Interactive Calendar
When someone suggests finding the best days to book a flight, they might be implying that you should simply open your laptop on a Tuesday and begin searching for deals. However, when a travel expert offers this advice, they likely mean that you should utilize tools like Google Flights’ calendar to explore a wide array of options and uncover the best opportunities.
Google Flights Calendar also allows you to filter your searches by airline, stops, travel times, and more, and compared to other search engines, its user-friendly interface allows you to browse the guaranteed flight prices.
The best thing about it is that you can plan your spring getaway right now. That’s right, you can book up to 12 months in advance, and the interactive calendar makes it super easy to preview prices on any day you might wish to depart.
Displaying flights from Seattle to Paris March-April 2024
Bonus Tip: When browsing on Google Flights, look for the prices highlighted in green. It’s not just for style purposes; the highlight indicates the best deals and cheapest flights to your desired destination.
Google Flights Explore
In the past, jet-setters planned their trips with the throw of a dart. However, that experience is in the history books. Or is it? While throwing darts at your screen is not advisable, Google Flights Explore sets you up for a different experience that begs to be “explored.”
Various flights are displayed on the map, allowing you to visualize your potential travel destinations across the globe. This interactive feature encourages users to discover new places and hidden gems, taking the spontaneity of travel planning to a whole new level.
With the most affordable flight at your fingertips, planning a trip becomes a delightful experience.
To start with Google Flights Explore, enter your departure city and preferred travel dates, then click on the “Explore” tab. The map will be populated with available flights and their respective prices, giving you an overview of the options at your fingertips.
For those who crave adventure and are open to exploring new places, Google Flights Explore also offers a “Discover” feature. This option suggests popular destinations based on your interests, such as outdoor activities, cultural experiences, or beach getaways. It’s like having a personal travel agent who knows your tastes and preferences, offering tailored suggestions for your next journey.
If you want to learn more about Google Flights and how to save a ton of money on airfare, check out our comprehensive guide.
How to combine Google Flights with other tools and websites
Google Flights knows how to find cheap flights anywhere, and it’s all-around fun to use. You can find some of the cheapest airfare options there; however, why limit yourself to just one tool? A hidden gem might be lying somewhere, begging to be discovered.
A similar tool to Google Flights is Momondo, and this tool even occasionally displays flights that are not found on Google.
Plus, Momondo can compare ticket prices with competitors making it one of the top websites for a comprehensive overview of travel costs and schedules. You can also create an account and enjoy a personalized experience and even browse vacation packages.
You can find a lot of tools online that will help you discover, compare and book the cheapest domestic or international flights, and you can find some that are, sort of, a secret. For instance, SkipLagged can help travelers seeking to save money on flights by taking advantage of a pricing loophole known as “hidden city ticketing.” This strategy involves booking a flight with a layover in your desired destination but with a cheaper final destination than a direct flight to your target city.
Upon reaching the layover city, you simply disembark and skip the remaining leg of the journey.
Search engines are online platforms that aggregate and display travel options from multiple sources, such as airlines, hotels, and online travel agencies. They do not handle bookings directly but redirect users to the respective service provider or OTAs to complete the booking.
Navigating search engines is fairly simple, and there is no “fork in the road” situation. Each journey should start with search engines rather than OTAs. OTAs might be running some incredible package promotions and discounts on flights, but that does not change the fact that most of them purchase tickets from hundreds of airlines and sell them at a markup.
Remember that certain airlines, such as Southwest, don’t show up on either search engines or OTAs, and if you want to fly with them, you have to book straight from their website. This is not a bad thing, as Southwest offers one of the best on-site experiences possible.
The 24-Hour Airline Rule
The 24-hour airline rule is a traveler’s secret weapon, offering a safety net for those spontaneous or uncertain bookings. This consumer-friendly policy mandates that airlines operating within the United States allow passengers to either cancel or modify their reservations without incurring any fees as long as they do so within 24 hours of the initial booking.
This invaluable grace period empowers adventurers to seize amazing deals and lock in their flights confidently, knowing they have a full day to mull over their decision or iron out any unforeseen complications.
Besides the 24-hour airline rule, It’s also worth mentioning that airlines have now eliminated change fees, providing passengers greater flexibility in their travel plans. This change is expected to be permanent, allowing you to effortlessly adjust your itinerary or even cancel your flight for a voucher without incurring any extra costs.
However, be cautious when booking the lowest-priced basic economy fares, as these are typically non-changeable and non-refundable.
Unlocking Big Savings with Budget Airlines
While budget airlines may require a slight compromise on legroom, they can be your secret weapon for affordable air travel. Remember, though, that not all budget carriers are the same. Some provide excellent deals while also maintaining a level of comfort comparable to that of major airlines.
While booking an international flight with a budget airline may not be very appealing, flying domestically for less than $100 is like sweet music to the ears.
You can book comfortable and budget flights with some of the following Airlines:
Air Canada Rouge
Air New Zealand
Swiss International Air Lines
Avoiding Hidden Fees Charged By Budget Airlines
Before you click “Book Now” and set your vacation countdown, let’s dive deep into the tactics of avoiding those pesky hidden fees and charges on budget airlines. Fare buckets might sound like sky-high savings, but it pays to be cautious. With these insider tips, you’ll spot the lowest rates and sidestep extra charges that can leave your wallet feeling lighter than air!
First, get wise about the baggage fees. Most budget airlines have strict limits on allowances for checked and carry-on bags. So weigh and measure your baggage before you fly, and avoid over-paying at the gate. If you need more sweet, sweet packing space, it’s often cheaper to pre-pay for extra baggage allowance rather than snapping on those airport scales.
Secondly, as mentioned, both major and budget carriers may attempt to charge extra for seat selection. In such cases, it’s often better to opt for a random seat assignment, allowing you to reach your destination at a fraction of the normal cost.
Outsmart the System: Using Positioning Flights to Your Advantage
Positioning flights have emerged as a top strategy for securing cheap fares for the highly adaptable traveler. Nonetheless, by investing a little time in research, you can save substantial money by merely being open to starting your main journey after the first flights.
What are positioning flights
A positioning flight is a separately booked flight intended to transport you to another airport to begin your main journey.
This strategy can reduce overall travel costs or help you reach an airport where your preferred airline operates. In a nutshell, positioning flights are commonly used for international travel but may also benefit domestic flights.
How to plan your trip around positioning flights
Again, Google Flights knows how to find cheap flights, and you should leverage it. But first, let’s discuss when positioning flights makes sense.
- When booking primary flights from alternative airports results in substantial savings.
- When desiring to explore an additional destination en route without being bound by stopover or layover constraints.
Suppose you want to visit Greece and you are able to book an award ticket to a certain destination, let’s say from New York to Germany. Then by booking a flight from Germany to Greece, you’ll position yourself to only pay $150 to enjoy this wonderful Mediterranean heaven.
Don’t get it wrong – positioning flights can have their pitfalls. They may not align perfectly with your travel plans and can come with longer layovers or dreaded red-eye schedules.
That being said, if you want to save on airfare and you don’t mind being flexible, you can easily plan your flights with the help of Google Flights Explore flexible search, as you can view the entire world map and pinpoint the cheapest flights.
Tips for Booking Flights with Points and Miles
From amazing upgrades to complimentary flights, points, and miles can make your travel experiences both more enjoyable and cost-effective. Now, to get the most value from your hard-earned miles and points, carefully plan your redemptions. Begin by comparing the retail price of your desired travel experience with the number of points required for the same booking, and focus on options that provide the best “cents per point” value.
These loyalty programs are a fantastic way for frequent flyers to reap major benefits such as free flights, cabin upgrades, lounge access, and much more. The basic idea is that you accumulate points or miles based on your travel activity or through other methods like credit card rewards, shopping partners, or dining programs.
Several reward programs cater to different travel preferences. Here are some popular programs to consider:
- [Airline] reward programs offer the best value when redeeming for flights on their own airlines. These programs often come with perks like priority boarding, complimentary baggage, and in-flight discounts….
- [Credit Card]: Credit card reward programs provide points that can generally be transferred to multiple airlines or used for other travel services. [Credit Card] cards also offer additional benefits, such as travel insurance and airport lounge access.
- [Hotel Chain]: Hotel reward programs allow you to earn points for stays and redeem them for flights or other travel expenses. [Hotel Chain] programs are best suited for frequent travelers who prioritize accommodations.
How to Use Matt’s Flights’ Premium Service to Get the Best Deals on Award Flights
Not all adventurers want to spend so much time on various OTAs and search engines before they take off. Some just want to fasten their seat belts and take to the sky. And luckily, they can do just that.
With Matt’s Flight’s premium service, all you have to worry about is packing your luggage and bringing your passport along. Try it out for FREE right now.
Matt’s Flights offers an exclusive service for premium members, providing them access to the best deals in the industry. By joining the premium membership, you’ll unlock a world of incredible opportunities, including up to 5x more exclusive premium-only deals compared to regular members.
You’ll also benefit from unlimited one-on-one flight planning support from Matt, who is dedicated to helping you create cost-effective itineraries tailored to your specific needs. You will no longer have to ask yourself questions such as how to find cheap international flights or how to find the cheapest destinations to kick back and relax.
Additionally, premium members receive instant notifications of mistake fares, which occur when airlines accidentally offer flights at incredibly low prices. With Matt’s Flights, you’ll never miss out on the chance to secure amazing and cheap airfare deals and make your travel dreams a reality.
Summing it Up: Takeaways for Finding Cheaper Flights
As you can see, finding cheap airfare is an art that requires patience and practice. But with the right strategies in place, you can get great deals on flights that will save you time and money. Being flexible with travel dates, leveraging search engines such as Google Flights, and signing up for newsletters, there are many ways that travelers can find flights at lower prices than usual.
What matters, in the end, is identifying what works best for the traveler and adjusting accordingly.
And remember to sign up for cheap flight alerts and get an inbox full of the hottest cheap flight deals every week. Guarantee yourself a win each time you plan to take to the skies!
Stop overpaying for travel!
Get cheap flight deals emailed straight to your inbox and save up to 90% on your next trip.
So regardless of where you’re headed, who you’re traveling with, or when exactly you’ll be taking off, having these tricks up your sleeve and knowing how to find cheap flights instantly will always pay dividends.
Travel Inflation Report: May 2023 by Nerdwallet
How to save a FORTUNE with a stopover by the Daily Mail
Airline Change Fee Quick Reference Chart by Frequent Miler
Understanding the Price of Your Plane Ticket