How I get cheap airfare

Copenhagen from above

I feel that one of the many questions on travel that I receive every day or every conversation that I have with a new person is about the flight costs. How do I find flights so cheap? When friends hear my entire trip to Thailand included airfare and was under 1500$ they were shocked. To me it was shocking that it is generally assumed that overseas flights cost that much. I couldn't imagine being willing to pay that to go somewhere.

Cairo, Egypt

While I am by no means an expert on this topic, I thought I could at least share some of my own methods of finding cheap flights for my travel.

Athens, Greece

My very first step in any situation is to use incognito browsing. This keeps websites from realizing you are searching a specific flight. Did you know that websites use cookies to track what flights you are looking at? This means they can sometimes jack the cost up 100-200$ extra hoping to make more off of you not being savvy enough to check elsewhere. Most phones will allow you to swap over to incognito browsing in the settings. You can also do this easily with chrome. I set my browser to deny cookies personally, or I clear them every time my browser closes.

Your choice in websites can help you with another 100-400$ difference in costs. I utilize three websites typically. Google flights is good for checking directly with airlines themselves, but it doesn't always show third party deals that you may be able to get. Momondo is a search that utilizes third parties and is generally my second choice. I also drop on to Skyscanner and see what the costs are there. It tends to track price histories really well. Skyscanner even lets you know when there's an expected drop to occur in price via their app.

Athens, Greece from above

Something to think about with your travel is your flexibility. Do you have exact dates you need to travel? If you do, you're less likely to get as large of a deal on a flight. This compounds with flying out on certain days. Weekend flights are more expensive than Tuesday thru Thursday. There can be a 300$ price difference between flying out on a Friday and a Wednesday.

Cairo, Egypt

The day you search for flights also effects prices. If you go to the websites and search on a Friday you will see higher prices vs if you search on a Tuesday. The further in advance you buy, the cheaper they can be as well. There are also chances for last minute deals if you really have very little structure to where you're going or when you're leaving, but this doesn't typically work for me. At this point you should be beginning to see how you've been nickled and dimed for flights regularly. I'm going to keep going though because these next tricks are my favorite..

Ferry across the Nile River

Alternative airports - You might be able to get a huge difference in price by flying into a nearby airport. Google lets you explore nearby airports so that you can get an idea on these easier. I've flown into some airports and used public transit, via bus, ferry, or whatever necessary to get to my next location rather than fly into a main airport that was going to charge me more. Some major hubs tack on extra fees just because they're a large hub, like Chicago. Place like Europe have cheaper flights once you're actually IN Europe. You can hop fairly cheap flights to places like Copenhagen just to get yourself in Europe first and book your next flight separate.

Copenhagen from above

Reward miles/credit cards are a great idea if you're going to start traveling regularly. Many credit cards have a sign on bonus that is worth it. You can also cycle/hack credit cards if you know how. I'll be putting information on this in the future as well, but it's a fairly lengthy subject. Suffice to say that you can get rewards more than once on cards.

Honey is an addon for your browser that automatically checks to ensure you have the lowest price. It shows trends on prices, and looks for coupons and discounts. This isn't just for flights either, I use it for buying items online as well. It has helped me check on flights though right before I was purchasing.

These are all things that I use in combination to get the cheapest flights for both international and domestic travel in the United States. Try mixing and matching a few and see what works best for you. Do you have any little secrets to successful budget flying? What do you do for yourself? Share in the comments!


  1. For International flights, it can also help to look at the flight plan and the particular route that flight takes. Fuel contributes to the cost, but it's a surprisingly small contributor to why flights cost as much as they do. Airlines have to pay "overflight" fees to countries they fly over to cover using the ATC (Air Traffic Control) services of that country. An exception to this is the EU, which shares an airspace and flights within countries of the EU all count for the same country, so flights within EU countries are particularly cheap.


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