I have wanted to start a help series for a while now (probably could have thought of a better name but I have The Beatles in my head and they’re damn influential). Lots of friends always ask what site I use to look up flights or how do I find a cheap hotel or what visa do I need if I go here blah blah blah etc. So alas I’m going to do a few posts with ‘travel tips’ that should help with the planning and prep. Obviously these are just my method of madness to get things done and I’m sure there are better ways but these work for me and so I thought I’d share them with you!
This first one is all about booking flights online. Nowadays there are three main ways to book flights – online, over the phone and with a travel agent. I always book my flights online as it is so easy and you have access to everything all at once. I get nervous around travel agents incase they’re giving me a bad deal and I have no way to compare it to anything instantly. If I do go in to an agents it’s normally just to pick up some brochures and get ideas for trips but I rarely purchase anything with them there.
For this example let’s say I’m flying from New York to Los Angeles. There are three things I tend to do when trying to figure out my best date/airline/price options (apologies for the fuzzy screenshots) –
1) First thing I do is go on Skyscanner and Google Flights. Both of these sites show an overview per month so you can see what days are cheapest to fly on. GF does this better as it literally gives you the price where as Skyscanner shows you a bar graph. Both of these sites filter through a ton of different airlines so they’ll definitely give you the best outcome possible. A tip with GF is to make sure you’re using the right Google depending on where you’re flying from e.g. if you’re going London to Los Angeles then you should use Google Flights UK as it searches different airlines to Google Flights US. Using this you can get a rough idea as to what dates are cheapest to fly on.
2) If you wiki the airports you’ll see they have a list of airlines and destinations. Reading through this or using the finder tool you can filter the different airports. Here I’m on JFK’s wiki and filtering for LAX and I see that there are five different airlines that go there. I’ll then tend to go on those websites and have a mooch around to see if they have any sale/deals going on that the previous search sites didn’t pick up on (or maybe they aren’t even included on search websites). It’s also useful to see if the airline charges extra for check-in baggage or picking your seat in advance.
2b) Not sure if this deserves a separate bullet point but it’s also worth checking the airline sites if you are a member of a mile club to get those extra miles/if there’s a deal on potentially. Lots of airlines partner together so you can use one airline membership with multiple airlines e.g. One World allows you to use your membership with American Airlines, British Airways etc. I’ll do a separate post on this but definitely sign up if you aren’t already as it’s totally worth it.
3) The third site I tend to check is STA Travel (make sure you’re on the right one e.g. STA US, UK). They offer discounted airline tickets at different rates depending on whether you’re a student, under 26 or over 26. I like to always check with them if I’m flying at a particular non-peak time in the year, as they tend to have great deals then. I book a lot of one way flights oppose to returns as I tend to fly into one place and then onwards to another and that is normally really expensive. Airlines like to charge a significant amount more if you’re only booking a one way but with STA they don’t do that. If you book a one way flight through STA they will charge you half of the roundtrip which is amazing and often it’s a little bit cheaper.It’s definitely worth just having a quick search to see.
Just a little extra tidbit of advice is try to hit big airports. They tend to be cheaper to fly in and out of oppose to smaller airports. I know sometimes that can seem irritating and out of the way but maybe there’s a cheaper option if you fly via a larger airport? It’s just something to always keep an eye out for.
Hopefully this helped a little bit with how to book flights cheaply. In the end it just really depends on what is the most important factor to you – how cheap it is or the duration of travelling or the airline etc. If you’re just looking for cheap I think this method is pretty good but I know that some people are more fussy and prefer to only fly with one specific airline each time. I’ll do another one of these ‘help’ posts soon on booking accommodations but in the meanwhile have a great week!