Of course you do!
Summer vacation, holiday travel, or weekend getaway. All of us want to find the best travel deals on our next flight.
Some people research and book hotels and airline tickets separately. Others prefer vacation packages through their favorite airline or travel sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, or Priceline. When trying to find the cheapest flight, many airlines like Southwest, JetBlue, and America want you to book on their site.
Searching travel web sites is one of the best ways to find the cheapest flight. People go online, search for a flight, and buy their airline ticket.
What if you didn’t get the best deal? Will airfare searches find the cheapest flight?
Why the best travel sites won’t find the cheapest flight
Many people pay too much for their flights and many people aren’t aware that they can get better deals. Right now, there is no search technology to give them the cheapest flight. Don’t believe it?
Let’s say you wanted to fly from Sacramento to Seville, Spain. Flying from the west coast is expensive so you want to find a good deal. So you do all of your research and think now is the best time to buy. Your travel dates are November 29 to December 7 so you look on Expedia to try and find the best deal.
A flight on American Airlines from Sacramento to Seville costs $1046 (including taxes).
A search on Continental’s website shows you an airfare with taxes of $1037. However the dates for this flight don’t fit your travel plans as you arrive home a day later. A search on American’s website gives you an airfare of $1039 and you get back on 12/7. American has the best deal so you grab it.
That’s not the cheapest airfare and no airfare search technology is going to find you an airfare as this – $983. This flight saves you $55. For a family of four, that is a savings of $220.
6 travel tips to find the cheapest flight
How did I get a flight $55 cheaper than the lowest quote online? I broke up the flight into segments and purchased a flight on different airlines by searching for individual flights to my destination.
First, I found a flight from Sacramento to Barcelona on American Airlines for $939 (taxes included). Then I found a flight on Ryan Air on 11/30 from Barcelona to Seville and 12/7 Seville to Barcelona for a total of $44.50.
So how do you find the cheapest flight without relying on online travel sites and their airfare search technology?
1. Budget airlines - You can search budget airlines in regions or countries to help you find cheapest flight. Budget airlines like Southwest and jetBlue, as well as smaller, regional airlines like Ryan Air, Go! Mokulele, and others offer discounted flights.
If you are flying from a big city to a smaller city, find a cheap flight to a nearby big city and then search the regional budget airlines for a cheap connection. Recent airline mergers may hurt travelers and make budget airlines a better alternative.
Note that some budget airlines are located at smaller, alternative airports. Flying into these airports saves you money on your flight but may mean longer travel time to your final destination.
Also some budget airlines may not allow checked bags, limit the number of bags, and may charge you for carry on bags.
Pack lightly, avoid peak day travel and airline baggage fees, and consider all your options when using budget airlines.
2. Taxes and fees - Most people look at the total cost of their flight. However, airline taxes and mandatory fees can make a huge difference in the cost of your flight.
A recent article in the Washington post states that airline passengers are overtaxed when it comes to flying.
The $1037 airfare from Sacramento to Seville, Spain was cheaper at $589 but taxes and fees were $448. Meanwhile, the American Airlines flight from Sacramento to Seville was $930 but the taxes and fees were only $110.
Why the difference?
Airport taxes vary based on which airports you land and flying into multiple airports can increase the amount of taxes and fees for your airline ticket.
Finding a direct flight will cost you less in taxes and fees. Use a budget airline to fly to your next destination. The taxes and fees on Ryan Air between Barcelona and Seville? $3.22 round trip.
Passengers need to know how much taxes and fees affect the price of an airline ticket. While airline prices now include taxes and fees, understanding how they work can help you find the cheapest flight.
3. Use multiple websites - Online travel site may not give you the best deal. Don’t just check Orbitz, Expedia, Bing Travel, Priceline, Kayak, and others. Check the airlines and sign up for their airfare alerts and dealson sites like Farecompare and Airfare Watchdog.
Know which airlines fly to your destination. Searching different websites and airlines and using airfare alerts can help you find the cheapest flight to your destination.
Check out this review of the popular online travel sites.
4. Sign up for deals on airline and travel websites - Sign up for travel deal alerts on airlines for specific flights or dates. Use Farecompare, Kayak, and Airfare Watchdog to set up alerts for destinations and trips on multiple airlines.
Be the first to know about airfare sales and get alerts on trips and destinations. Don’t play roulette and hope to get lucky with your search for the cheapest flight on an online travel site.
5. Break up your itinerary - Breaking your trip into segments allows you to search for flights on different airlines for multiple cities.
If you are flying from New York to Boise, Idaho, Frontiers may have an airfare sale from New York to Milwaukee but Southwest may have a deal from Milwaukee to Boise. Separate airfares may save you money if you find deals that connect cities on the way to your destination.
Searching for flights by segment on different airlines allows you to find deals you can’t find on many online travel sites or airline website. There are times online travel sites and airline websites will be cheaper – but not always.
6. Use a travel agent - Travel agents can steal find the cheapest flight for you so let them do the work. Online travel sites and doing your own research makes searching for flights easier. However, travel agents may have deals and packages that you won’t find online.
Think outside of the box when searching for flights
Saving money on travel is important to a lot of people. Finding the cheapest flight isn’t as easy as searching for a flight on an online travel site.
Despite the conveniences of modern technology, the airfare search engines aren’t perfect and are limited in their abilities to search across multiple airlines for certain itineraries.New travel sites are trying to work around these limitations and implement the type of airfare search technology that will find these deals.
Do your homework, research, and plan. These travel tips can help you find the cheapest flight as you look beyond online travel sites and airlines.