Travel 101: How To Find The Cheapest Flights
Searching for flights can be cumbersome. With multiple different airlines including ultra-low cost carriers like Allegiant and Spirit Airlines, low-cost carriers such as Southwest and full-service airlines such as Delta, how do you find the right airline and find the best deal or cheapest flights.
First of all, it's important to know the difference in types of airlines.
Ultra-low carriers such as Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit will get you from Point A to Point B for a cheap price. But the price of the ticket isn't the only cost you'll be paying on these no-frill airlines. Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit all charge for not only checked baggage but also for carry-on baggage. You'll also likely pay fees for seat assignments and any on-board snacks and beverages. Allegiant will even charge you for paper boarding passes. So when you are checking airfare prices, it's important to remember that extra fees on these ultra-low carriers can add up! Sometimes the cheapest flights aren't always the best deal.
Low-cost carriers such as Southwest and JetBlue typically offer a reliable product, affordable prices and don't come with the charge you for everything philosophy that ultra-low carriers do. Southwest does not have assigned seating, meaning it is first come first serve, and doesn't charge for checked baggage.
Full-service airlines such as Delta offer the same services as low-cost carriers, although sometimes the product and service can be a bit better, but do charge for checked baggage.
So how do you find the right airline and the best price? Our favorite way to search for airline prices is by using Google Flights. Google Flights is Google's travel search engine. It does everything you assume it would, like locate flights based on your ideal outbound time, inbound time, number of stops and best price.
For example, if we wanted to travel between Boise and Indianapolis between November 24th and 27th, Google Flights shows us a list of all available flights, how long each flight is (including layovers) and the prices.
Google will give you tips on how you can save money. For example, Google Flights offered a Date tip: Save $93 if you return on Tuesday, November 28th (1 day later).
Google will also track the prices of flights for your trip. For example, if prices go down, Google will send you an email letting you know of the decrease in price. The same goes for price increases. Google will go as far as warning you if a price increase is likely in the coming days.
And one of my favorite features of Google Flights is the ability to help you decide on a vacation if you are undecided. Are you wanting to take a trip the week of January 21st? You can put in your starting destination and Google Flights will show you the price for all possible destinations.
Just remember, after you find the best price for a flight, remember to include any extras in the total cost of the flight such as picking a seat, checking bags, etc. That cheapest flight might not be so cheap after all.
One other thing we've found is that flights tend to be their cheapest (not counting holidays) about 45-60 days from the date of departure. So don't get in such a hurry to book your flight. There's a good chance you'll overpay, and with most airlines (other than Southwest), you won't get a refund for the difference.
Google Flight is always our first choice when searching for flights. It is easy to use and helps us save money. So what are you waiting for? Start searching for your next vacation!