Times are a changing! There are many ways in 2018 for finding cheap long haul flights and we are going to list some super tips for saving money on your next plane ride!
Remember that flights is often the most expensive part of your trip…
For all of the changes in the transatlantic flight market, many pricing factors remain the same—as do the strategies for getting the cheapest airfare possible.
Be flexible. Summertime is still peak season, yet flights generally cost less if you avoid the season’s true peak and opt instead for departures in early June or late August. For example, in one of our searches Aer Lingus was charging $1,146 for a round trip from Los Angeles to Dublin in mid-July, compared to around $800 for departures at the tail ends of the season. For that matter, flexibility in general boosts the odds of snagging cheap flights. Switching departures from the weekend to the middle of the week can save you hundreds.
Look for budget hubs. You can save hundreds of dollars by tweaking your plans to fly to airports served by the low-cost carriers. Instead of flying Aer Lingus nonstop from Los Angeles to Dublin, for instance, go with WOW Air from LAX to Cork (via Reykjavik) for as little as $680 on our searches for peak July travel dates. Or, instead of flying out of Boston, consider Providence, which is served by Norwegian Air. During searches in late March, we found nonstops from Providence into Bergen, Norway, in mid-July for only $302 round trip. With prices this cheap, you can handle the extra costs and hassles of using B-list airports, and still have money left over to hopscotch around Europe by booking a few low-fare flights within the continent. (Just remember that they too charge hefty fees for baggage—so pack light.)
Be indirect. Connecting flights have always tended to be cheaper than nonstop to Europe, and that’s largely still the case for 2017. We couldn’t find direct flights from Washington, D.C., to Rome for anything less than $1,700 throughout the summer, for instance. But routes with one stopover could readily be had for under $1,000.
Book strategically. CheapAir.com crunched months of search data to conclude that the optimal time for booking flights to Europe for the least amount possible is roughly four months before departure. (That’s too late for you if you fancy a June getaway, but perfect if you’re targeting an August escape.) Travelers probably have more leeway when flying during non-peak periods; we’ve seen plenty of deals to Europe available for under $400 round trip at the last minute this winter and spring. And if you’re hoping to get ultra-cheap airfare, pay attention to when carriers like Norwegian Air announce new routes—and insane introductory prices as low as $65 to go along with them.
It’s a good idea to check multiple flight search engines before you book a ticket. You never know which site may show you the best price and cheapest flights.
Our Favorite Flight Search Sites:
Generally, my first stop is Skyscanner when searching for cheap flights. When I find a good deal, before I book it, I’ll also double check Momondo, Google Flights, Kayak, and finally the airline’s official website.
Be Flexible With Dates/Times
The best time to book a flight has been found to be 4-10 weeks in advance of your trip. The best days to depart seem to be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday because they’re off-peak with less passengers and lower fares.
Early morning flights or red-eyes (overnight) will usually be cheaper too.
Flights with long layovers are less expensive. Another way to save money on tickets is by flying during the off-season, or shoulder seasons, when there will be less demand.
For example? Iceland in the Fall/Winter, or Mexico in the Summer.
Check Alternative Airports
If you happen to live near a few airports, remember to check the fares for each of them, as well as alternative airports or large hubs near your intended destination.
Sometimes traveling by bus to or from a different airport can save you a lot of money on flights.
In the past I’ve saved a few hundred dollars choosing a $10 bus ride to New York rather than flying directly out of Boston. It takes longer, so you’ll have to weigh the opportunity cost.
Identify the cheapest day to fly out
While many theories exist around booking specifically on a Tuesday to save money, the reality is there is no consistent truth to exactly which days are cheapest to fly. Most of the time it is cheaper to leave on a weekday, though this isn’t always the case. Your best strategy is to get a quick visual of prices for a whole month to see what days are cheapest for your specific route. Here’s how:
Step 1. Hop on the Skyscanner website or download the app
Step 2. Enter your departure & arrival cities
Step 3. Select “one-way” (even if flying round trip – you’re just determining the cheapest days to fly out first)
Mix it up
Long gone are the days when it was always cheaper to book a return flight on the same airline. Our research indicates you can frequently save by being disloyal. When we checked flights from London to Gran Canaria in August, we found savings of £76 for a family of four by going out with one airline and back with another.
But doing a comparison of all the flight options on the airlines’ own websites would take hours. But on Skyscanner.net, every search scours all the airlines and brings you the best deal, whether it’s flying out and back with the same airline or mixing it up – or even flying into and out of different airports.
Finally don’t forget holiday cover particularly if you are over the age of 80 as insurance has never been more important!