To the delight of travelers everywhere, the global tourism and hospitality industry has seen a much-needed rebound this past year. Countries closed to the world during the Covid pandemic have begun welcoming foreigners back in mass, and a travel obsessed (and deprived) populace has taken full advantage. However, as has been the case with just about everything that’s come along with the pandemic, the relaunch of travel has brought with it a fair share of challenges. Most notably at the moment is the high cost of flights.
As frequent flyers and believers in seeing as much of the world as often as possible, we’re here to help. Here are our tips and tricks to finding cheap flights abroad.
Be Flexible With Your Dates
If you’re heading off with FTLO, you don’t need to arrive the day your trip begins. When searching for cheap flights abroad, consider looking one to two days out. Generally, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are the cheapest days to fly (however, that’s not always the case), so if you can arrive early, check out those days as well. In many countries we visit, a night or two in a hostel or hotel will be far cheaper than the difference in flights.
**As we’ve also seen a significant uptick in flights delayed recently, booking an earlier flight can also provide some peace of mind if you do experience a delay.**
Use Multiple OTAs or Aggregators
There are multiple ways to purchase flights online, and it’s crucial to search across as many of these as possible to find cheap flights abroad. OTAs or online travel agencies are essentially middlemen between airlines and customers. Aggregators are comparison sites that show flights from multiple different OTAs. Unfortunately, there isn’t any evidence that either an aggregator or an OTA is always cheaper than the other, so it’s essential to take your time and compare across multiple channels to find your flight.
Some of our favorites are Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Kiwi. Keep in mind that an aggregator often will direct you back to the OTA to make a purchase.
We should also note that there’s been an uptick in flight cancellations recently, and going through an OTA or aggregator can create hiccups when it comes to refunds or changes. So it can actually be better to find your flights on these channels and then buy that flight direct from the airline.
Fly Into Large Hubs
When you're searching for cheap flights abroad, always try to fly into the largest city near your destination. When you’ve figured that out, then grab a domestic flight, train, or bus to your end destination. More often than not, this will be much cheaper than trying to find flights to your final destination off the bat.
For instance: If you’re headed to Mykonos, find the best flight to Athens. Then book your domestic flight to the islands. Domestic flights, particularly in Europe, can be extremely cheap.
Set up Flight Alerts
Flights do not stay the same price. In fact, they can change drastically from one day to the next. Of course, monitoring that yourself can be an incredible hassle and cause you even more headaches than you started with. Thankfully, we’ve got flight alerts.
Most sites, including OTAs and aggregators, have flight alerts, and they’re all relatively easy to use. Set up your information, set your alert so you’re pinged when prices drop, and you’re all good.
If Flying in the US, Check Southwest
We discussed those fancy aggregators and OTAs earlier and their ability to draw from thousands upon thousands of flights. Well, in the United States, there’s one little caveat. The largest of all the airlines won’t show up.
Southwest doesn’t allow its flights to appear on third-party apps, so you need to go directly to its site. In the US, this is important, as Southwest often has some of the cheapest and best flights available.
Don’t Lose Out on Hidden Fees
You found that perfect flight that gets in at the perfect time at a bargain-basement price. Then, you get to the “Buy” screen, and boom, $200 in extra fees. It’s a tale as old as time—hidden fees when booking flights.
It can seem impossible to tell if the site you’re using is tacking on fees, so it’s essential to be extra careful and diligent when doing your search. Make sure the price includes checked bags, taxes, and anything else upfront, so you don’t get an unwelcome surprise in the end.
Check out Scott's Cheap Flights
On our never ending quest to find the newest, best, cheap flight tool we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Scott's. This one's a bit different as it's a subscription-based paid model; however, the results speak for themselves.
Here's how it works: sign up for the service, add your airports you're searching for deals from, wait for the team at Scott's to scour new deals and send them directly to your inbox, book and be happy.
Scott's cost $49 a year, yet most users make that up on their first flight. It's vital for travelers to jump on the deals they're sent quickly as most of these don't last long.
What Are Your Tricks?
We’re always on the lookout for helpful tips when it comes to finding the cheapest flights abroad, and we know travelers like you know them best. So if you’ve got that flight hack that you just can’t live without, leave us a comment below. Who knows; we might even drop those in an Insta poll and give some FTLO swag to the best new trick out there.