Getting the cheapest airline ticket is not easy and, contrary to what happens in other sectors, it depends on many factors. Not only on discounts and promotions or being the first to purchase the product. So much so, that your seatmate may have paid more than twice as much as you for the same route, or may have gotten the same ticket at an 80% discount compared to the price you paid.
Why does this happen? Airlines have their strategies to set the prices of each ticket and, sometimes, to raise the price they charge to each user. Knowing what techniques they use, you can try to get the cheapest ticket or, at least, avoid paying a surcharge. Keep in mind these tips we give you to get your cheapest airline tickets.
How to get the best price for an airline ticket.
There is no magic formula to achieve the cheapest tickets when it comes to air travel, but there are a number of tricks and tips we can offer to try to get them as cheap as possible. Watch out:
When to travel
-Flexibility with dates: Whenever possible, try not to have to travel on a specific day at a specific time. If so, you will have less room to maneuver when looking for the best deals.
-Most economical dates. Although there is no exact science, it is generally cheaper to return in January and February -except for special dates such as Epiphany- and in November. If possible, avoid July and August, as they tend to have the highest prices. The companies know that more people have vacations only on those dates and raise their prices due to the higher demand.
-Travel midweek. As a general rule, traveling midweek is cheaper than traveling on weekends for a reason similar to the previous tip: many people can only travel Friday afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays. Try to come back at a time other than Sunday afternoon and you will see prices drop.
-Travel early in the day. Generally, flying first thing in the morning is cheaper (with the exception of Mondays, which many people take those flights to return to work after the weekend). But for example, flying on Friday morning and returning on Sunday morning is likely to be cheaper than flying in the afternoon and returning in the evening.
When to purchase tickets
-Plan ahead. Related to the previous two points, if you can plan your trip in advance, you will be able to choose the most economical dates. Sometimes buying too far in advance also means paying more because you do not benefit from promotions that may appear later. For example, it is advisable not to buy flights before Black Friday, because it is possible that discounts or promotions will be available on those dates.
-Buy on the airline’s website. Although there are many comparators that search for the best price and allow you to compare between hundreds of companies, then many of them add a small surcharge for their services to the final price. Therefore, you can use these services during the search process, but be sure to check that the price is not more competitive on the airline’s website.
-Compare between airlines. Even the airlines themselves have different prices between their divisions. For example, the same flight marketed by Iberia and Iberia Expréss may suffer price variations depending on the airline website you are visiting.
-When to buy. Avoid buying your flights on weekends. It is the time when more people are checking airline websites and making purchases. In many cases, prices drop on Mondays, a day that many companies also take advantage of to launch their offers. The same happens during vacation periods or public vacations. For example, prices tend to be cheaper as soon as Christmas or the summer months pass.
-Delete cookies. Surely it has happened to you, you search for a flight to a certain destination, you don’t buy it at that moment and you search again 15 minutes later and it is already more expensive. “What bad luck!”, you think. “Surely someone has beaten me to it and got the ticket at a better price.”
However, this is most likely not the reason why the price of your flight has gone up, but because of so-called cookies. These are small files that are stored on your computer and leave a record that you have made that search and you were interested in that destination and specific dates. When you do the search again from the same browser, the airline consults the cookies saved on your computer and knows of your interest, so the price goes up a little because, possibly, you accept it and buy “before it continues to rise”.
In this sense, it is advisable, if you have already made the search previously, to delete cookies from your Internet browser, so that there is no trace of them.
-Browser in incognito mode. One way to avoid saving cookies and traces of your searches when you consult the website of an airline is to navigate in incognito mode. This is an option found in your Internet browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Edge…).
-Use another device. Another way to check if you are getting a price increase because you had already searched for that flight before is to do the search from your mobile or another device that you had not used before. Also, do not do it with the same wifi connection, for example, use the data of your cell phone plan. This way it will count as a new search.
Other tips to get cheap tickets
-Don’t give up stopovers. On many occasions, making a stopover to reach a destination is cheaper than flying direct. Airlines often offer more competitive prices to alleviate the disruption of having to change flights. If you have time and don’t mind too much, you can save a few euros.
-Buying round-trip is not always cheaper. Maybe this you didn’t know, but it’s important to keep in mind. It is not always the case. Looking at the price of a one-way or round-trip ticket can sometimes bring you a surprise.
-Check different airports. Remember that there are cities that have several airports -or there are other airfields close to them- and maybe flying to another one of them will mean a significant price difference for you. Likewise, sometimes flying to one airport but returning from another means a decrease in the final ticket price.
-Turn on alerts. Many comparators offer an alert service and send you an email when the flight you were interested in goes up or down in price. Using them can help you to be the first to know about a promotion or discount.