There’s no shortage of travel websites and online agencies to search and book flights, but when it comes to getting the best deal, using a combination of sites will often give you the best results. If you have a little time and flexibility to play around, here are some to bookmark for your next trip.
Track Prices on Skyscanner
You can set alerts on a site like Skyscanner or Airefarewatchdog if you have flexibility in when you want to go on your trip. Some airlines don’t appear in search engines like the aforementioned or Google Flights, however, so it’s worth heading directly to their site.
Add a Short Layover
Airwander is a site that adds a 24 hour (or longer) stopover to your itinerary, which allows you to visit a new place and save money. If you have some flexibility, you can also use something like Google Flights to add nearby airports to your search criteria for better rates.
Be Cautious with Hidden City Fares
One popular hack is to book a flight with a layover that is actually your final destination, which search engine Skiplagged makes easy to find. These “hidden city fares” can be cheaper than a direct ticket—however, they’re also frowned upon by airlines.
In fact, United sued Skiplagged, though the suit was thrown out. Still, “the National Association of Airline Passengers warns the fine print on most aeroplane tickets typically forbids hidden city fares,” reports NY1. They may hold on to your bags or kick you off the original flight.
Additionally, “never buy a round-trip ticket when using this strategy,” suggests Business Insider. “When you don’t get off the plane at the indicated ticketed destination, the airline will cancel the rest of your trip.”
Book One Way Tickets
As we wrote previously, “one-way tickets are becoming increasingly affordable options for international travellers.” But the way to do this isn’t to look for a ticket to and from Paris, for example. Rather, use a service like Google Flights to find cheaper flights to and from nearby countries. Take advantage of low-cost carriers like Norwegian Air and Ryanair if you're flying in areas they service. Kayak’s Hacker Fares can also help you find a pair of cheap one-way tickets.
Look for Fifth Freedom Flights
As we covered recently, fifth freedom flights allow a carrier to “sell tickets on standalone city-to-city routes in countries that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to operate in,” as long as it’s along a route that originates or ends in the airline’s home country, according to Airfare Watchdog. You’ll find better times, nicer planes and, in some cases, cheaper or more direct routes. Check out some of the options here.
For all of these, a little flexibility is key to a good fare, if your schedule allows it. And here are a few other tips and tricks to keep in mind.