How to Find the Best Flights
In this post, I will share my personal method on how to find the best flights.
By the words how to find the BEST flights I mean you get from point A to point B in the fastest and cheapest way possible.
Note: This information is outdated. Find the and updated (and much simpler) version on the resources page.
I used to have quite a complicated system for this.
It involved using some different websites and then looking over a database for all the small airline companies.
It was quite good but I needed to update the database too often. Airline companies come and go more often than most people think.
In any case, the money saved wasn’t worth the effort.
So now I have this much simpler method. It is still based on the original method but simplified.
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How to Find the Best Flights
1. Choose Your Travel Date
It is preferable to book at least one month in advance.
Know the exact date you want to travel? Go to step two.
If your travel date is flexible for up to a week either side then choose Tuesday and go to step two.
For those of you whose dates are flexible for 2+ weeks then go to Matrix.itasoftware.com. Use the “see calendar of lowest fares” option. It won’t give you the cheapest flights but it does give you a general idea of the cheaper days in a month.
2. Search in JetRadar
JetRadar.com is by far my favorite flight comparison website. If you have another preference feel free to use them or compare a couple.
If your flight day is flexible then check a few days either side also to see the best deals. If your flight is not urgent then create a price alert.
Occasionally there are no search results. I assume this is because there is no partnership of airlines that go from the departure point to the destination. You need to consult lonely planet and/or WikiTravel.org. Between these two sources, you can discover which cities to use as stopovers. You may need to use some other mode of transport.
Once you know the intermediaries do a few quick searches to find out which flight path will be cheapest. Make sure you get the dates right, as your departure date from a stopover city may be different.
This sounds like it will be a lot of searching but it isn’t. This is because if JetRadar has no search results it means where-ever you are flying to is remote. There will only be a couple of places that it is possible to come in from.
When choosing your own connecting flights give yourself at least a two-hour layover.
3. Search in Skiplagged
Skiplagged.com specializes in hidden ticketing. Hidden ticketing is when there is a lower-priced flight that connects through your destination. You get off at the connection instead of flying all the way through.
There are two catches if you use hidden ticketing:
- Do not buy a round-trip ticket.
- Do not check-in luggage.
4. Pick Your Flight Path
Pick the flight path you like best of the results from JetRadar and Skiplagged.
5. Search the Connections Separately
When your flight has connections, check how much those flights cost separately. Often it is cheaper than having the airline make the connection for you.
Note: Only do this when the layover is at least two hours. This is because if you miss your connecting flight and YOU booked them then it’s your fault. If the airline or Jetradar did it then they will compensate you, e.g., put you on the next flight.
5. Check the Airlines Website
Sometimes the airline is cheaper, sometimes it isn’t. Much of the time it is the same.
Also, sometimes JetRadar figures out connections that the airline does not directly offer.
6. Book Your Flight
Now you have to choose whether to book through JetRadar.com or the actual website. Here are the things to consider.
- When the airline’s website is the same price or cheaper than JetRadar then book through them. In most cases, it’s best to go through the airline in case anything goes wrong.
- If JetRadar has made a connection that the airline does not do, then book with JetRadar. If you miss the connection then the booking site should compensate you. Make sure you check the fine print of the booking site you use.
Do you have your own method on how to find the best flights? Share it (or anything else you want to say) in the comments.