Flights are often the most expensive part of a vacation and can be prohibitively so. They are expensive but often the costs can be reduced significantly with a few hacks and tips. Some people are loyal to certain airlines, that is one's preference but it is generally more expensive. For those wanting to find the best deals out there, one should never be brand loyal.
There are many hacks on reducing how much to pay for tickets - here are a few suggestions. This is by no means a full discussion of flying hacks! See here for 10 other flying hacks seasoned travelers know.
Check Multiple Locations
If there are multiple airports one can choose to fly out of, then check with all of them. Sometimes it is more expensive to fly out of or into large hubs. For example, both Istanbul and Doha are major hubs, they receive lots of flights from all around the world as a layover for passengers to catch their onward flight.
- Hubs: It Is Often More Expensive To Have A Hub As The Being Point Or Final Destination
If a hub is one's end destination then it can be much more expensive. An example of this was a flight by Qatar Airways, from Los Angeles to Belgrade in Serbia with a connection in Doha. That ticket was around $420.00. But if one was just to buy the ticket from Los Angeles to Doha (on the same flight), it was over $1,000.
Another example is flying from Istanbul to Bogota, Columbia. At the beginning of 2020 Turkish Airlines' ticket was around $1,000. But if one was to fly from Sofia in Bulgaria (a six-hour drive away) with Turkish Airlines it was around half the price (with a flight from Sofia to Istanbul and then the same flight to Bogota).
- Book Return Tickets: Return Tickets Are Normally Discounted And Cheaper Than Two One-Way Tickets
Another trick is to book with multiple airlines. This is can be cheaper to have multiple tickets with different aircraft (say book with Delta to LAX, and then with Qantas from there). This is particularly useful if one needs to fly to a remote location.
- Tip: Consider Mix Matching The Ticket
Caution: Check Transit and Immigration Requirements
If one does book multiple tickets be careful. If one's flight is delayed or canceled, one can miss the connecting flight - and it's not their problem! Also one will often have to go through immigration and recheck one's luggage. If doing this, be very careful to check the regulations (visa requirements and relevant Covid restrictions). It may be one can't go through immigration without having to quarantine for two weeks - by which time one has probably missed the connecting flight!
The Airline Booking Sites
There are many websites that scan and match different airlines in different ways. Some of the best are Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Kiwi.com - but there are many more. These can all be scanning different airlines with different combinations. So it is useful to check multiple websites. Skyscanner also matches different airliners on separate tickets and so one has a multiticket option - they can be cheaper, but exercise the caution above.
- Skyscanner: Check Out Skyscanner's Search "Cheapest Month" To "Everywhere"
Caution: Many Of The Flights Shown Are Out Of Date On Kiwi.com, Skyscanner, etc.
Skyscanner and Google Flights also have useful bar charts that show the prices over time and say if these flights are above or below averagely priced.
Another very useful hack is to change the website currency and/or the domain. So if one is in the United States, Skyscanner is likely to default to the .net domain. Play around with it and change it to .de (Germany), .fr (France), .za (South Africa), etc. The prices for flights are often different depending on with country someone is logging in from.
Cheap Flights In Europe
There are many very very cheap flights all across Europe - e.g. one can fly from Portugal to Scotland for $8! But it is important to understand how these flights work and which airline one is booking with. See here for the best budget airlines in the world.
Airlines like Ryanair, Wizz Air, Ukraine International, EasyJet, are very cheap, but they will always seek to get their money elsewhere. Paying for checked-in luggage can be very expensive relative to the ticket price. Look at their carry-on regulations and try to pack for that.
- Budget European Airlines: Ryanair, Wizz Air, Ukraine International, EasyJet, and More
- Check-In Luggage: Always Check It Checked-In Luggage Is Included
Also always print out one's boarding pass (they often charge for printing out the boarding pass). If one has check-in baggage it may be cheaper to book a more expensive ticket that includes checked luggage. With Ryanair, it can even be cheaper to book a "first-class" ticket that includes checked baggage than booking an economy ticket and then adding baggage.