Here are the four ways to finding cheap flight tickets and booking them:
Best Search Engines To Find Cheap Flight Tickets
There are hundreds of search engines to find cheap flight tickets. Here are my personal favorites
a. To: Everwhere: Skyscanner allows you to leave the destination open. Thus, if you planning a vacation from Mumbai, India and you are not sure where you want to go. Just put ANYWHERE in To and it will show destinations starting with the cheapest flights from Mumbai.
b. Date Flexibility: Skyscanner lets you pick entire months. And, then shows you airfare of different dates of the selected month. This way you can plan your vacation around cheap airfare dates and you won’t have to plugin different dates to find the cheapest fare in a given month.
c. Cheapest Month: You know you want to go to New York, the USA for your next vacation. You know you will be flying out of Mumbai, India. But, you want the cheapest flight. And, you are flexible with departure dates. Now, do you manually check airfare for the next 6 months to find the cheapest fare? No, you just select “Cheapest Month” in the date box. And, Skyscanner will return the month and dates with the cheapest airfare from Mumbai to New York.
a. Date Range: You want to fly from Mumbai to New York. You can take a 3 week vacation any time from mid-April to May end. Skyscanner only lets you put in entire months. So, you have to individually try different dates between mid-April & May. But with Kiwi, you can put precise date range. Say, Departure Date: April 18-May 15. Kiwi will show you the cheap flight tickets in that date range.
b. Multiple Airport Search Option: You will be traveling to the US east-coast for 3 weeks. And, it doesn’t matter to you where you start on the east coast. Kiwi allows you to enter multiple cities/airports and returns the cheapest flight between the selected cities. Saves you the trouble to manually search for airfare between Mumbai-New York, Mumbai-Boston, Mumbai-Washington etc. Also, if you are flexible with departure city/airport, you can select multiple airports and it will return flights with the best airfare for combinations.
c. Radius Search: You will be traveling on the east coast but you are not sure of all the airports on the US east coast. So, how do you search? Enter Radius Search. Select ‘Radius Search’ in From or To field. Click on the map where you want to fly to. A circle will appear. You can resize or move the circle across the map. Kiwi will search the best airfare in the area in the circle
Momondo is a more traditional flight search portal. The flexibility is limited. But, it has the tendency to dig deep to find cheap flight tickets. So, you can find the best time and city-airport combination using Kiwi and Skyscanner. Once, you have the time and city-airport, use that to search for cheap flight tickets in Momondo. And, Momondo usually does a good job finding even a cheaper fare than Kiwi or Skyscanner.
Due to different reasons – employee error, currency conversion error, computer glitch etc – ridiculously cheap airfares are mistakenly posted on the internet. For e.g. I found a round-trip flight from Havana, Cuba to Hamburg, Germany for just $70. To learn more about error fare and how to find it check out this excellent article by the thrifty nomads.
Midway Flight Fares
Direct flights between two faraway locations, Location A & Location B, usually cost an arm and a leg. So, what I do is I fly from Location A to Location M. Location M is a city or airport halfway (more or less) between Location A and Location B. Then fly from Location M to Location B. Most of the times this costs less and you get the option of visiting Location M. So, you get to travel to Location M for free if you look at it that way.
Here is an example –
In June, I wanted to fly one-way from Havana, Cuba to Ahmedabad, India. The cost – $1200.
I did a radius search using Kiwi for a flight from Havana, Cuba to Africa, Europe, Middle-East or Asia.
What did I find?
Havana, Cuba to Belgrade, Serbia — $320
Belgrade, Serbia to Ahmedabad, India — $200
So, I saved $680 and I traveled in Serbia for four days as well 🙂
This is the holy grail of airfares. Certain airfares have heavy fuel surcharges. In some cases twice the cost of the actual base fare. With Fuel Dumping, you can avoid paying the fuel surcharge and just pay the base fare.
You want to fly from Mumbai to New York round trip. Fuel Surcharge is $500 while the base fare is $300.
Now, you search for a flight (one-way or round-trip) anywhere in the world with no or little fuel surcharge. Let’s say, Bangkok-Dubai. Or any other combination. REMEMBER, you will not be taking this flight so the actual flight doesn’t matter.
Once you find such a flight, you do a multi-city booking on your favorite flight portal. You search Mumbai to New York. And, Bangkok to Dubai. And, you book it as part of one ticket. The Bangkok-Dubai flight will eliminate the Mumbai-New York fuel surcharge thus saving you money.
Read Fuel Dumping Basics by Secret Flying to get an in-depth idea.