There are people who save money wherever possible, but there are also people who see saving almost as a life goal. In this article, you will find a number of tips to book cheaper airline tickets. The tips come from a seasoned world traveler – someone who has also worked for a 'ticket farmer' for years. This is a world traveler with over 10 years of experience in finding and book of cheap airline tickets. This article is not so much about the common tips to find cheap airline tickets – this article will cover the less common hacks to save maximum money. Earn points, fly cheaper and even fly for free. These effective and easy to use tips and hacks have saved thousands of dollars over the years and now they can do the same for you.
Of course we understand that you often don't want to go that far or extreme to save, but where there is a will there is a way. Even if you only take a few tips with you – every bit of knowledge and know-how is a plus when it comes to airline tickets. You don't have to save every euro you save!
Table of contents
1. Use Google Flights
Forgets Skyscanner - usage Google Flights† And no, there is not even an affiliate link in that Google link. This incredible website will revolutionize the way you book flights and save you a ton of money along the way. Of course we also want to earn some money with affiliate links to keep the website online, but we also want to put an article here that actually does what it says: save you money† If you want to support us in another way, take a look our webshop with all kinds of fun and useful travel articles.
That said, let's take a look at some of the key features of Google Flights, and why this booking site is sweeping the competition.
Rates for two months
A frequent flyer knows that there are always cheaper days of the week and times of the month to fly. Google Flights simplifies fare search by showing you a calendar with rates of two full months† There's even a handy bar chart that makes it easy to see which day is the cheapest. I've found flights for almost half the price by using this tool and flying on the right day of the month!
Destination region, not just destination city
Sometimes you just want to be spontaneous. You fly to any city, as long as it's cheap. Well, Google Flights is going to be your new best friend. Instead of entering a destination city, you can enter a destination region, for example Europe or Asia. You can then open a map view of the entire continent showing the fares for each major city and airport. With this trick I discovered that I could get to the 250nd airport of Kuala Lumpur for €2 less than if I flew to the regular airport of Kuala Lumpur on the same day. This works for almost any flight, both far and near. Traditionally, if you were to search for flights, you would spend hours searching each city individually, hoping to find a cheap connection somewhere. With Google Flights, that is a thing of the past.
A good deal on a cheap plane ticket is only a good deal if you are comfortable while in the air. Google has partnered with Routehappy to include “Happiness Factors” in their search results. Now you can see if your flight has food, USB power outlets, TVs, video on demand and Wi-Fi. The factors are displayed using easily recognizable icons right next to the rates in the search results. You can even see how many centimeters of legroom you have!
Best flight recommendation
Google takes the guesswork out of choosing flights. Sometimes customers are blinded by a cheap deal and don't notice that there is a 15-hour layover in Dubai. For € 40 more you could have flown immediately! Google will automatically calculate the best flight for you based on a good balance between price and transit time. You can also sort by flight time, arrival time and even by Co2 emissions. Brilliant.
2. Incognito Mode and Cache
This is both a fact and a myth when it comes to booking cheap airline tickets. Have you ever noticed that when you return later to check the cost of your flight, the price just keeps going up? This is no coincidence. Flight booking machines and airline websites store cookies in your browser. These cookies can track your surfing behavior and will know when you return to the website to check the price. They will then jack up the price to encourage you to buy! It sounds criminal, doesn't it? Well, it is. In a number of European countries, including the Netherlands, it has been banned for some time. In many other countries it is not illegal yet and it happens all the time on almost every booking website.
To avoid booking a flight that has jacked up the price every time, just clear your browser cache before booking anything online. If you're using Google Chrome as your browser, press control-shift-N to open an "incognito window". On mobile you can do this via the ment (the three dots) at the top right of your browser.
If you didn't already know about this hack, you probably overpaid for just about every flight you've ever taken. Especially if you have booked something abroad in recent years. The next time you book a flight, be sure to clear your cache or shop “incognito”.
3. Getting kicked out
Is booking cheap airline tickets not good enough for you? You want to fly for free? No problem. You can get free flight vouchers, so you don't have to pay for your future flight ticket at all. It's an extreme form of saving money on your plane tickets but hey, why not? All you need is time, and you should have enough of that during your world trip.
How it works
Today, so many people fly that airlines overbook their flights and count on the fact that not everyone will show up at the gates at the time of check-in. Sometimes this works for them and they can overbook flights without a problem, but sometimes they have to ask some passengers if they don't mind taking the next scheduled flight instead. These passengers are “bumped” or sent away.
Why is being bumped or sent away such a great hack? Easy! Because if you are sent away, you can fly to your destination on the next scheduled flight and in most cases you will receive a free flight voucher for your next trip! That's right, you read it right. Your next flight is then free.
But you should not just hope that you will be sent away. There are two things you should do to increase your chances.
Choose a popular flight
The more popular the flight route, the more likely the airline will have to refuse passengers. Choose a popular destination city and fly on the busiest day possible (usually Monday morning, Friday afternoon and around holidays).
Show up early and volunteer
Proceed to the check-in desk when it opens. Politely tell the travel agent that you are not in a rush and that you have no problem volunteering to catch the next flight if you need to. In many cases you can simply leave your name and contact details purely for this purpose.
Now you just sit back and wait. This hack may not work every time, but you can definitely get some free flights if you keep trying. NomadicMatt, one of the world's most seasoned world travelers, managed to fly no less than 15 times for free in a one-year world trip. Count out your winnings.
4. Book at the right time
The “right time to book” has been a debate since the invention of commercial air travel. When is the best time to book cheap airline tickets? How long before your departure date should you start buying flights? Are last minute deals the best or is it better to plan far in advance to get early bird discounts?
According to a 2019 study conducted by CheapAir.com, the optimal time to book cheap airline tickets is about 48 days (about seven weeks) before departure. The study also claimed that most airlines charge hefty premiums for late bookings (within 14 days of departure) and for early bookings (more than five months in advance). wow! And we think that booking 6 months to a year in advance was the most advantageous. Not so.
5. Protect yourself from cancellations
Many flight booking search engines have strict flight cancellation policies that are often completely separate from airline policies. Sometimes you have to cancel your flight for unforeseen reasons and if you booked through an online booking site you are usually out of luck and out of money.
Instead, find cheap airfares using your favorite search engine (e.g. Google Flights), find the flight number and date of the cheapest fare and go directly to the airline's website to book it. This way you have a better chance of getting at least some sort of refund if you have to cancel on the go. You will also be better assisted in the event of calamities because you have not booked something 'via via', you can then simply contact the airline itself.
Finally, if something goes wrong with a change or cancellation, be aware that you can still get refunds on many “non-refundable” purchases, if you know how to ask. You can also enlist help from parties such as: Compensair, who will fight the battle for you and, if successful, will take a share of the 'profit'.
6. Use the best credit cards
We know it. Travel miles, air miles, save points, every airline has something you can save. The problem, however, is that you tend to quickly get to the planning your world trip always book the cheapest flight so that everything is fragmented and you cannot save well. You save a little everywhere, and in the end you can't do anything with it.
When you are going to book cheap airline tickets, make sure you check which airlines fly to the countries you want to visit and purchase a credit card from your favorite airline. With a credit card from the airline you usually save your points and miles twice quickly and after a few flights you often have enough for significant discounts or even free flights. If you are a loyal flyer with a certain airline, you also receive additional travel benefits such as priority boarding and free visits to super deluxe lounges.
It's difficult and it feels awkward. While planning and booking your world trip, you do not want to book flights that are 100 euros more expensive with company X, for example KLM. You think.. with three distant flights, you have already lost 3x 100 euros more. Shame! But what you forget at that moment is that you have already saved so many points on the 4th or 5th flight that you have already saved up part or even the entire next flight. Bottom line, you are often hundreds of euros cheaper, especially if you board the plane more often. Our advice: give it a try! A good credit card to start saving with is the American Express Flying Blue credit card† Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program of KLM and Air France, so you have many options in terms of destinations and benefits you can save.
7. Use the Flight + Hotel or Flight + Rental tab
You've probably seen that little tab at the top of flight booking websites that says Flight + Hotel or Flight + Car rental† Looks like it's just an aggressive upsell, trying to get you to spend more money than you really want to. Still, it turns out that there are huge savings hidden under that tab.
Booking sites offer customers big discounts on their flights, hotels and car rental if they are booked together. They want to bind customers and continue to do so. It also regularly happens that a flight + car is cheaper than the flight itself. It sounds idiotic, and it is, but it's possible. Sometimes it is better to book cheap airline tickets in combination with a car or hotel.
Even if you don't want to rent a car during your vacation, you can still give this little hack a try. At the beginning of 2020 we booked a return flight from Amsterdam – Toronto in this way. The cheapest flight was €974 euros. I then searched the same flight using the tab on the British Airways website that reads “Flight + car” and found it for just €921 Euros inclusive car rental for the duration of the holiday of one week. That is over €50 less for the flight, plus a free rental car.
8. Avoid extra baggage fees
You will probably think:that doesn't happen to me. I only take 16 or 18 kilos with me during my world trip so I stay well under 20 kilos† Surprise! Many small airlines flying to islands (particularly in Asia) often have baggage limits of 18 or even 14 kilos. Extra kilos will quickly cost you a fortune.
It's a good idea to always carry the maximum size allowed for your hand luggage, plus a handbag and a compact, foldable duffel bag just in case. Most airlines allow all of these items as carry-on luggage, and having all three will give you plenty of room to divide your belongings.
Prevent the scale at the check-in desk from making you sweat. Take out the heaviest things and put them in your hand luggage. Throw some things in the duffel bag and distribute the weight so you don't have to pay extra for heavy checked baggage.
9. Ask to sit close to the emergency exit
Most airlines will charge an additional fee if you request the emergency exit seats, as they have twice the legroom. However, you can often get them for free as well. When you check in for your next flight, ask for a seat close to the nearest emergency exit. This is free.
Once the plane doors are closed and you see an empty seat at the emergency exit, move. Because these spots are subject to additional fees, there are usually a few empty seats available and once the plane is locked, you don't have to pay to get there. Free upgrade!
10. Use the 'multiple destinations' tab
The tab with 'multiple destinations'. The multiple destinations tab can be found on almost all booking sites and gives you access to secret discounts for taking multiple flights at once. In my case, I had to fly from Guatemala City to Havana and then three weeks later to San Jose, Costa Rica. If I booked these flights separately, they would have cost me €938. The same trip cost me €710 through the Multi-City tab. That is a saving of € 218 euros. Use this tab when planning multiple flights in a specific time frame. It won't hit every time, but it will still save you money more often than you think.
Other common saving tips
Just like airline tickets, you can easily compare parking spaces at airports online. Via Flying and Parking, an online comparison and booking platform, you can compare the parking offer around Dutch, Belgian, German and French airports and reserve a parking space directly.
The process is simple. Are you looking for a parking at Schiphol then you simply select Schiphol and your travel dates. The available parking options are then shown, which can be compared, sorted and filtered. Once you have found the ideal parking space? Simply book online and you have arranged your parking space!
Of course there are still the common tips to book cheap airline tickets. But these have been explained so often that we have not included them in this article. Think of booking scheduled flights, not booking flights during holiday periods and public holidays and using budget airlines. You can find these and more common tips to save on airline tickets in this article.
Do you know of any money-saving airline ticket hacks that I missed? Share them with the world in the comments below!