Travel deals come and go and sometimes shopping for airline tickets can seem a bit like following the stock market. The price just dropped? Buy! Buy! Buy! If you’re looking to score a deal on cheap airfare, here are three methods to help you pounce on those low ticket prices before they disappear.
1. Consider Price Before Destination
Some people know exactly where they want to go on vacation, but what if you’re a travel junkie who just wants to find an interesting and affordable place to visit? Try using the Explore feature on Kayak.com, a handy interactive tool that allows users to view all options for cheap destination flights leaving from their home airport.
After entering your home airport into the search tool, a zoomable map of the world with price tags all over it pops up, displaying the lowest prices of recently booked flights. For example, a return flight from Chicago (ORD) to Bogota, Colombia came in at under $300 USD.
Fare alerts are another way to be notified of cheap airfares. You may even find a deal as good as travelling from Chicago to Istanbul, Turkey (pictured above) for $450 USD.
2. Sign Up for Fare Alerts
Airfare Watchdog takes a similar approach to Kayak.com’s Explore with a search of your home airport for the day’s best deals, but they also offer fare alerts sent to your email. Alerts can be set up to just list deals from the origin airport, deals only to a specific destination from numerous places, or the city-to-city combo of your airport of choice. You can also decide whether to receive email alerts on a daily or weekly basis. Most ticketing sites also offer this service including Cheapoair and Travelocity.
Can’t find a cheap direct flight to Australia? The beautiful Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Australia (pictured above) may just be a connecting flight away. Try flying via a transit hub such as Kuala Lumpur where discount airlines offer flights at incredibly low fares.
3. Create an Alternative Route
No deals for your favourite destination on the horizon? Find a cheaper intermediate city that offers budget airline connections to your target city. For example, if you want to go to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam or Perth, Australia but the airfare is astronomical, try looking for a deal that goes through a typical transit hub such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong. You may find there’s a special price on an alternative destination via a discount airline such as AirAsia, Tiger Airways, Jet Star or Ryanair.
With advance planning, airfares with these airlines may startle you. Prices as low as $10 USD each way are common (plus taxes and fees). Example fares you may find include flying from Bangkok to Vietnam for a total of $110 USD roundtrip, or $300 USD for a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Perth.
There is a risk here, however. If your overseas flight is delayed and you miss that connecting flight, it is not the problem or responsibility of your original carrier. So be sure to have a connection time long enough to protect you. Another solution might be to spend a day or two in that connecting city-which you may consider to be a bonus if you’re an adventure traveller!