5 Rules to Finding Cheap Airline Flight Tickets

Joel Lee 22-11-2013

Sick and tired of paying a fortune for air travel? The easiest solution would be to skip the plane and take a road trip instead, but many of us don’t have the time or energy to do that. Plus, with gas prices on the rise, the road trip might end up costing more than air fare. And that’s assuming you aren’t traveling across an ocean in the first place.


Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks you can make use of in order to maximize your savings when purchasing airline tickets — in fact, you might even be able to save a few hundred dollars per ticket These Cheap Flight Websites Will Save You Tons of Cash If you don't want to miss out on potential flight deals, use these websites to find the best ticket prices. Read More in some cases. That’s a lot of extra spending money you can use while away from home!

The next time you’re planning a flight, keep the following guidelines in mind.

The Right Time to Buy


Did you know that there’s a right time to make your ticket purchases? It’s hard to pinpoint an exact rule of thumb since the industry is always adapting to variations in demand, but there are two important factors always in play.

Don’t buy too late. If you’re flying out next week and you don’t have a ticket yet, then you’re out of luck. The unfortunate truth is that you aren’t the only one who needs a ticket and airlines know this. With so little time flexibility, airlines know that they can raise the price and you pretty much have no choice but to buy the ticket. Thus, don’t wait too long before you secure your flight.


Yet, paradoxically, last minute flights are another matter altogether. Prices will actually drop for last minute tickets! Airlines hate empty seats because empty seats don’t earn them money, so it’s better to have the seat filled cheaply. Use this to your advantage when you can, but don’t rely on it since there’s no way to guarantee that a flight will have last minute spots available.

Don’t buy too early, either. You might think that prices would be dirt cheap if you purchased your tickets 6 months in advance, but that’s unfortunately not how it works. The optimal time to buy a ticket, then, is between 3 and 12 weeks before the flight.

Also, consider using Bing’s Price Predictor. Bing might still be lagging behind Google in the field of search, but they have some cool tools that come in handy every once in a while. The Price Predictor is one of them.

The Right Time to Fly



Not only does it matter when you click the “Buy” button, it also matters when the flight departs. If you pick a time when everyone else wants to fly — for example, during the Christmas holidays — then you’ll be competing with a lot of people for limited seats, which ultimately raises the price.

Fly during off-peak seasons. Throughout the year, there are five periods when people tend not to fly that often. These “dead zones” are:

  • January, after the 7th
  • February, excluding Valentine’s Day
  • September
  • November, first two weeks
  • December, first two weeks

Fly middle of the week. The actual day of your flight can influence the price greatly. Most people tend to travel on the weekends with a tendency to fly out on Friday and fly back home on Sunday, making those two days the most expensive. Tuesday and Wednesday, on the other hand, tend to be the least expensive days.

Fly early in the day. Have you ever flown at 4am? It’s a miserable experience and most people will actively avoid flying at such times, which means there’s less demand for those flights and, consequently, lower prices.


Always Compare Prices


There are many websites that offer the lowest airline prices and there are even search engines for cheap flights 3 Lesser Known Flight Search Engines That Will Help You on Your Quest for Cheap Flights We all know travel websites like Expedia, Kayak and Orbitz, and sometimes these big websites are more than enough. But from all those other smaller websites out there, how do we know which are good... Read More . The best thing you can do is visit all of them and compare carefully. Will it take a lot of time? It might. The decision is yours whether the savings in price is worth that extra effort.

First, check all available airports. You might be lucky and have a big airport near you with a few smaller ones scattered about. The bigger ones tend to be cheaper but not always, so check the other ones and compare.

Then, check all available airlines. Some airlines are naturally cheaper than others. Keep in mind that you’ll definitely notice the difference in price when it comes to seat comfort, flight attendant service, accommodations, etc. But depending on how long the flight is, the price cut may be worth it.


Lastly, check all available routes. Direct flights between point A and B are fast and convenient, but you might be able to find cheaper prices if you can stomach the hassle of a layover and connected flights. With the latest rulings, at least you’ll be able to use electronics on these flights Can Airport X-Ray Scanners Damage Your Phone or Laptop? Ever find yourself worried when you're in an airport and about to send your electronics through the security scanner? Here's everything you need to know about that. Read More .

Note that some airfare websites employ price discrimination based on your browser activity and search history. When comparing prices, always use a VPN These Cheap Flight Websites Will Save You Tons of Cash If you don't want to miss out on potential flight deals, use these websites to find the best ticket prices. Read More or your browser’s private browsing mode.

Split Groups Into Separate Purchases


Even on the same flight, different seats will often have different costs. For example, back seats near the plane’s engine can be uncomfortable and distracting, thus resulting in a lower seat price. While it’s nice that some seats are cheaper, this can prove troublesome when buying tickets as a group.

Let’s say a particular flight has 3 seats available for $100 and you’re traveling as a family of 5. If you search as a group of 5, you’ll never see the $100 seats because airlines typically show you the lowest priced tickets available to the whole group. In this case, the flight might have enough $200 seats for 5 people, thus you’d see the lowest price as $200.

Here’s how you get around that.

First, search as a full group to find all of the flights that have enough total seats to accommodate your whole group. Once you have a list of these flights, go back and search through them for one ticket at a time Ticket-O-Matic Is the Best Fake Flight Ticket Generator Want to create an elaborate prank or just dream of a summer vacation in the sun? This is the fake flight ticker generator you need. Read More . Instead of being stuck with 5 $200 tickets, you could end up buying 3 $100 tickets and 2 $200 tickets.

Research Those Sneaky Fees


Most air fares will include all taxes and fees in the ticket price, but the included fees are only those that are directly related to flight. There are plenty of other services that may incur hidden charges. The most common fees relate to checked bags, seat selection, snacks, blankets, and other on-board services.

Research ahead of time and avoid these pesky fees as best as you can.


As is true when shopping for any kind of deals, there’s always a measure of luck involved. Sometimes it comes down to whether or not you click the right links, search the right terms, or pick the right times to go scouring the web. But if you stick to the guidelines above, you’ll be able to tip luck in your favor. Who says you can’t fly for cheap?

For other help with your travel plans, take a look at our tips for planning your trips Planning a Trip Soon? Nail Your Travel Preparation With These 8 Tips Travel planning comes with a lot of details. Here are a few crucial tips to take care of before you even start planning a trip. Read More .

Image Credit: Boarding Passes Via Shutterstock, Price Graph Via Shutterstock, Morning Airport Via Shutterstock, Airborne Airplane Via Shutterstock, Airplane Seats Via Shutterstock, Airplane Food Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Save Money, Skyscanner, Travel.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. United Airlines
    December 11, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Very nice post, if you looking for cheap airline flight tickets then visit

  2. jcincy
    January 6, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    I sort of disagree that you should not book way too early. I have been using Hopper and am traveling from the midwest (not Chicago) so our flights are usually (IMO) higher to fly anywhere. I have been using the Hopper app to watch flights and have found this as a good tool. I had been watching for round trip flights to Rome and Ireland for early September 2017. I received an alert that tickets are at a good price on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. I did some sleuthing because my dates were not set into stone and I bought a ticket round trip to Ireland for $398 from the midwest from a major US airline! So it is wise, if you want to travel overseas, to start looking out for plane tickets as early as you can. The next day, the tickets were over $1,200. Honestly, I did not purchase directly through Hopper but it was spot on for a good deal.

  3. SmartAirFlights
    May 23, 2016 at 4:50 am

    These are best and basic steps to know about find cheap airline flight tickets. To find cheap airline flight tickets is according to passenger's budget.

    I am quite impress to read your posted article.Its nice attempt by you.

    Keep it up !!..

    • Joel Lee
      May 27, 2016 at 1:42 am

      Thanks, I really appreciate that. Glad the tips were helpful for you!

  4. Siri Rao
    January 30, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Another way of claiming cheap airline tickets is by way of using coupon codes. Once you have done enough research and have chosen a specific airline, always remember to look for latest coupon codes for that airline. Then, apply that to your shopping cart and claim decent savings. Websites like have promotions related to Air France, Qatar Airways, Eithad Airways to name some.

  5. robert
    December 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    If you don't know, by law, airlines have to block a percentage of seats to be assign at the airport... for free. In other words, you don't have to waist any money to reserve a seat.

  6. bart
    December 1, 2013 at 11:32 am

    My tips:
    compare todays fares against those 3 month from now. (almost sure that those are the bottom fares and lower than the 'last minutes'.)
    there may be advantages in booking the hotel/car/... while booking the air-flight tickets.

  7. Matthew H
    November 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    That's quite helpful. Personally? I quite often book in advance, and I book using the websites of the airlines. I'm quite flexible about when I fly, so I usually fly late at night or early in the morning. I don't think it's an especially miserable experience, though. I rather enjoy it!

  8. Jean-michel A
    November 27, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    ty please explain private browsing part

    • Joel L
      December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Essentially, some sites will track your visit and remember which flights you were interested in. If you return later, the site will secretly bump up those flight prices only for you. You can get around it by using private browsing since private browsing disallows cookie storage, which is how sites do this.

      This might even apply to online retailers, not just airlines.

  9. Denise E
    November 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    These tips are useful! My usual go-to for getting tickets at a good price is it allows comparison of different airlines and shows basic ticket price (minus tax and other fees..) so one thing to bear in mind is just as the article said - especially for budget airlines that do not include check-in luggage allowance in the price. for example, a ticket may look like it costs SGD180, but may become 40 dollars more because you pay 20 dollars each trip for baggage.

    • Joel L
      December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Skyscanner is a cool site! Thanks for sharing. :)

  10. Stephanie S
    November 26, 2013 at 8:09 am

    I refuse to fly any more because of govt intrusion (TSA and NSA) but I am also retired and on a fixed income so the luxury of flying isn't on my budget. These are great tips and I am forwarding this article on to my daughter who does take air travel trips with her hubby and kids from time to time. I am sure she knows some of these but it never hurts to pass an article like this on. Even one tip you didn't know might be THE tip for saving the most money. Thanks for the article.

  11. Rob H
    November 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    I once got dead cheap flights by going on Xmas day.
    There are big differences between "no frills" airlines and conventional ones. No frills will cut the price to the bone if they've got seats to fill and the "no frills" aspect isn't necessarily much worse than conventional airline (with the exception of Ryan Air who have a dreadful reputation for minimum "service" and loading up a bargain price with hard to avoid extra charges and using remote airports with a long coach transfer.)
    Don't assume no frills is cheapest, if the flight is nearly full, prices can be more than conventional airlines.
    Many charge extra for hold baggage but at checkin some offer to put carry-on bags in the hold for no charge (travelling as a couple we have two maxed out carry ons and one booked in for the hold - we're quite glad to put the carry on into hold).
    Some cheap flights are to smaller airports which in general are less convenient - but check out the options, they may be convenient for your plans, you may even be able to adjust your route plans for the overall trip to take advantage.
    Car hire rates at the airport can be a lot more than if you take the transfer to town and hire a car there.
    I was trying to book a trip to Malta and the usual web sites were only giving crazy prices, thousands for a trip I'd expected to pay hundreds. The solution was to check Malta airport arrivals and departures and find out what airlines were operating flights I may be able to use then go check those airlines schedules, that got me an affordable flight.

    BTW bardwso advice re cookies - using cookies this way to screw consumers is illegal in UK, not saying it might not happen... Another questionable practise is that when you make an enquiry you are misled about the number of tickets available, told something like "only these 2 left" to rush you into making the booking.

    Take extreme care over the passenger details - if not an exact match with the name on the passport some will require a "change of name" fee which, with no frills flights, can cost more than the ticket. This is especially high risk for names transliterated from a foreign alphabet like Greek where there may be more than one recognised version of the name in the Latin alphabet. Don't expect airlines to be "reasonable" they will stick to the letter of the contract if it gives them the opportunity to apply an extra charge.

  12. Karsten
    November 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I cannot get to Bing travel, it takes me back to and search ends with expedia or cheap tickets, but no pricepredictor or so.

  13. Gram
    November 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Bardwso is correct. . use one login to determine price. . use a different login to book your flight. . if you use the same site your costs will go up on your second visit. .due to cookies. .

    • Joel L
      November 26, 2013 at 1:29 am

      Thanks. It was mentioned under the "Always Compare Prices" section.

  14. bardwso
    November 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    What about deleting cookies? Or going though a proxy? (within originating country)
    It is known that returning visits will bump the prices up slightly creating a 'now or never' feeling to purchase tickets.

    • Joel L
      November 26, 2013 at 1:27 am

      The last paragraph under "Always Compare Prices" does cover this phenomenon.

  15. John
    November 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Nothing new here.

  16. dragonmouth
    November 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Of course all this is predicated on one's flexibility to fly at any time, on any date and to any destination. A majority of people, however, are constrained by their circumstances - kid's time off from school, when their boss gives them time off, places they want to visit, etc.

    • Joel L
      November 26, 2013 at 1:29 am

      "Cheap" and "I have a lot of specific criteria that need to be fulfilled" rarely go together - much less so for airline prices.

    • dragonmouth
      November 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Maybe for the airlines they don't go together but for most people that fly they certainly do.

      Any fool can find a cheap fare when there are no constraints on when, where and/or how he will fly. The real achievement comes in finding a cheap fare while meeting all or most of one's criteria.

    • Joel L
      December 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      Yes, that "achievement" mostly revolves around planning ahead, knowing the optimal buy periods, and taking advantage of that. That's precisely what this article is meant to shed light on. If you can't plan ahead far enough (or if you just don't care to) and you can't take advantage of low price periods, then you're out of luck.

    • dragonmouth
      December 3, 2013 at 12:36 am

      Obviously you do not have a wife whose vacation schedule is different from yours and you definitely do not have kids in school. You can only go on vacation in July and August, along with 90% of other families. Your kids want to go to Disney World or Busch Gardens because that is where 90% of their friends are going. The only cheap fares are to places like Duluth, Green Bay or Marquette, Michingan. Go ahead, start planning ahead.

    • Joel L
      December 3, 2013 at 3:04 am

      That was pretty much the point I was trying to make.

  17. Tom S
    November 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Great article with good info
    But, what's with the "From The Web" ? Is it advertising? If so say so. I clicked a link and WOT almost screamed at me to get off