Finding The Cheapest Flights Online
Flying can be extremely expensive, especially when you are strapped for time and have to make a last minute purchase decision..
As someone who travels for business somewhat often, I’ve seen the best and worst of airline ticket prices. I’ve been able to fly round-trip direct to Maui for under $300 USD on Hawaiian Airlines, yet had to choke down a $500 USD flight from Seattle to Los Angeles with a six hour layover in Vegas. Through these experiences, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to find the cheapest flights online.
1. Turn on Incognito Mode
Although airline companies won’t confirm it, many people have noticed an increase in ticket prices when websites are able to cache their web browsing.
Basically, if the airlines website detects you’ve been to the site previously and are returning, they assume you are cross checking prices with their competitors websites, and will present to you a higher ticket price in an attempt to push you to purchase quicker. They can also identify where you are browsing from, and display prices accordingly. Best way to avoid this?
- Browse Incognito
- Access websites via VPN/VPS to hide your location
2. Hold Purchase Screens
When looking for cheap airline tickets on website aggregators like Expedia.com or Kayak.com, find the cheapest ticket price and follow through all the way until the purchase screen where it asks for payment information. Then leave this tab open and continue searching for lower priced tickets on other sites.
Many aggregate websites hold the ticket price for you (not all, but many) so that, in the case of you not being able to find a better rate, you will have that preferred price on hold. When I purchased a ticket to Maui, I held a tab open for three days before deciding it was the best possible rate. While other ticket sites went up by two to three hundred dollars, I was able to purchase mine at the rate I originally found.
3. Browse Multiple Websites
This one is a no brainer, but do your due diligence and research various ticketing websites for the best option. Below are a few websites I use when purchasing flights, and I suggest checking all of them before making a decision. Don’t forget to go incognito!
4. Calling Airlines Directly
Call me old fashioned, but this method works well in a pinch. I once desperately needed to push my flight back a few hours due to a personal delay. The issue was, I couldn’t get a refund for the flight and the second flight cost nearly twice as much as the first one. I called and spoke with one of the airline reps (it was Alaska Airlines, in full transparency) and they gladly moved my flight, free of any charge.
I can’t guarantee that every flight representative will be as lenient to adjusting the rules, but it might be worth a try as a last resort.
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