UPDATED OCTOBER 2022!
Finding cheap flights is easy if you know how to do it. We all love traveling, but it sounds costly, especially if we fly. The ticket is the most expensive on a journey.
I got this question from people about how I manage to travel often. My simple answer is – I arrange everything by myself, so simple is that! I go twice a year on long trips, mainly to destinations outside Europe, and I often go on short breaks. Oh, the short breaks (we called in Belgium – city trips).
I have almost completed the European continent. That is the advantage of living in Europe because there are many budget airlines, and if you plan the trip months before, you can fly for less than a hundred euros.
At the beginning of my adventure in the year 2000, I had no choice because most airlines did not have websites back then, so the only way to book a ticket was through a travel agency.
As of today, you don’t need a travel agency because you can arrange everything online. However, I understand that some people are scared to book online because of scams and fraud.
Well, the truth about booking everything by yourself – you’re responsible for solving your problems, like if the trip is canceled or changed. And while booking through a travel agency, you’re at ease; you pay almost twice the price, but you don’t have to do anything if something goes wrong.
Subscribe to an airline to receive their promotional fares
If you sign up for airline memberships, you will receive their latest promotional fares, and it doesn’t cost you any pennies. It is entirely free! You only need a valid email address where they can contact you. Moreover, you can save miles by engaging how often you fly with the same airlines and the more air miles you save.
The benefits of the saved miles are that you can upgrade seats or fly gratuitously. You only pay the tax for the free ticket you used. The mileage drawback depends on which airline is valid only for three years. But don’t get stressed about it. Don’t you want your mileage to disappear in the air? Then go for online duty-free shopping. Airlines like Turkish Airlines, Etihad Airways, etc., have beautiful articles on their website and can be pre-order by paying with air miles.
Plan a trip and choose a destination
Plan your trip ahead of time for short or long-haul flights. On some airlines, you can already book a ticket 11 months in advance. I book around 9 to 5 months before. These were the best times to book, while the first hundred seats were available for the best price. The closer you book, the more you pay for the ticket.
Also, be flexible if you can fly anytime, a last-minute booking can be good! That said, there’s no guarantee that you will fly cheaply, especially at a particular destination. I barely book at the last minute. However, it happened a few times when going on a trip during the pandemic, as it didn’t give me an option because it was too risky to book months before.
Some say don’t book too far in advance because it is expensive! Or book your ticket on Tuesday or Wednesday because these are fare error days. That’s a myth. I have tried all that, and it didn’t work! The practical part is planning a trip, choosing a destination, and then booking the flight.
Advantages and disadvantages of booking far in advance
The disadvantage of early booking is that your flight may be changed or canceled. It happened once that my flight was canceled a month before my trip. The airline wants me to re-book my ticket at a ridiculously high price than the original booking.
I canceled the flight and demanded a refund. So be careful because these were the tricks for some European budget airlines. And that creates stress since everything is paid for at my destination, like accommodation and car rental. So I have to book another flight at the last minute. And I was fortunate to find an affordable ticket.
Another thing you must be aware of – before clicking the booking confirmed button check the exact dates and your personal information if it’s correct. Because once you’ve done and you missed something, this delivered you extra cost. A long-haul flight for a non-European destination will cost 200-250 euros, depending on the airline. As for European flights, it will cost from 100-150 euros just for small changes. So take your time when booking a ticket.
Search engine Booking websites
There are many search engines to check for the airline ticket. These were just a few of the list: Expedia, Kayak, Opodo, Skyscanner, and Momondo. I also like checking prices on Google flights.
Download the apps to your phone and create a profile. And then, fill in your destination and departure dates and save them. You will receive a notification when the price goes up or down.
During your search, it categorizes low to higher prices, and you will see the airline’s name. And then, go to the airline website; you’re good to go if you want to book a ticket.
Therefore, you need a credit card: visa, or a master card for booking; no debit card. Some asked me if it is safe to book online with all the internet fraud. Years of doing this, I had never encountered any problem. The airline’s website payment information is encrypted, and it is safe to pay with credit cards.
Flying on multiple destinations
It is sometimes cheaper to book multiple destinations, especially flights to Southeast Asia and Oceania. So instead of flying straight to your destination, you break the trip to countries in the Middle East or Asian cities. Save a few days when planning a trip. Discover new places before continuing to your final destination. I love combining two or three countries in one trip and booking multiple destinations – it saves me some money.
For example, a few carriers from the Middle East, like Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Saudi Arabian airlines, will have their main airport in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia. Or you could fly with Malaysian airlines with a stopover in Kuala Lumpur.
Another option for multiple destinations is booking a flight to A and returning home from B, which is good when exploring a country with a limited time. I have done this a lot, which saves me time.
Self-booking is straightforward
Booking your plane ticket is very easy, as long you have access to the internet. Whether you’re on a desktop, tablet, or phone, it doesn’t matter. Ensure you have stable internet connections without interruption, as these can cause errors, especially in the payment process.
Sometimes, it takes ages before the payment complete done, and you suddenly see a blank page, but don’t panic! Instead, be patient, and let the site do its work. Also, it is good to have a printer around because some airlines don’t send confirmation emails.
It happened to me when I booked a flight with VIVA AIR PERU. But I was competent to write down the booking code before I closed the page. And then I went to their website and filled in my booking number, and there I found my itinerary and printed it out.
I encountered the same recently when I booked a flight with Austrian Airlines, but the confirmation email arrived five hours later. So you see, these are minor problems if booking a ticket online.
TIP: If you continuously look up the ticket prices, clear your browser cache, and start over again. Because after two to three times doing the same, you will notice that the same ticket you see on the first search becomes more expensive.
Play with departure airports
My main airport is Brussels. Sometimes flights from Brussels are cheaper depending on the destination and airlines. Make sure to understand that Brussels has two international airports: One for non-European destinations and the other one in Brussels. South Charleroi Airport serves budget airlines with destinations around Europe. A lot of travelers need clarification on the Belgium airports. I live in the West Flanders of Belgium, two hours from Brussels.
So anyway, I play with departure airports while searching for tickets. Whether from Schiphol Amsterdam or Paris Charles de Gaulle. And remember departing from these two airports takes me almost 4 hours to get there by train.
So here’s what to do. As I often make this booking, I will tell you how I do it.
For example, if departing from Amsterdam is one hundred euros cheaper than in Brussels, it didn’t save me money.
Because the rail price of a one-way ticket to Amsterdam costs 61 euros from home to the airport in Schiphol, I’m not going to battle that price. So I am going the easy way and willing to pay more by leaving Brussels. And this also applies if departing from Paris. In fact, it comes out more expensive because no IC train going to Paris. So you’re obligated to take the fast train. But if you have someone to drive you, you save money.
Flying with budget Airlines
There are now more budget airlines flying around Europe. But Ryanair is a leading airline with many European destinations at a meager competitive price. However, the apprehension of the reputation, such as delayed and canceled flights, many people avoided this airline. Fortunately, I never had a bad experience with them.
Flying on weekdays is cheaper than on the weekend. The only thing that will be annoying is that most of their flights depart and arrive at smaller airports. And that is sometimes 100 kilometers away from the city center. But there are regulated coaches at the arrival airports.
Plan and Book
I don’t like overpaying for a flight. Sometimes a combination of two airlines can make a difference. For example, on my recent trip, I booked my flight with two different airlines as it was cheaper than booking a return ticket. So this is how I search for my flights without breaking my bank account.
You need to have a lot of patience when searching for flights. I could spend hours and days if I need a ticket. However, as I have a long list of places to go for in 2023, I am already looking for tickets where it isn’t so expensive to fly. And I’m a person who doesn’t go to the same places that I have already been. That said! Plan and choose a destination and book your ticket as soon as possible.