How do I find cheap international flights

Tips: how to book cheap flights (+ best search engines)

Are cheap flights the best?

Finding the cheapest flights has become almost a competition. Booking flights has become easy. But finding the best flight for yourself, preferably the cheapest, is a challenge.

“For 300 euros to Hawaii? How did you do that?"

Well, at the beginning I asked myself this question when friends or colleagues hired me spontaneously "Bargain" when booking a flight. Because the most expensive thing about travel is often the plane ticket.

That's why I took the trouble to write down my experience and tips for you so that you can find cheap flights too. I have acquired a few tricks and tips over the years that, surprisingly, not everyone knows.

Incidentally, I prefer direct flights and prefer to pay 100 euros more. But that has only developed like this in the last few years.

My tips to find the cheapest flights

Are there any insider tips when it comes to booking a flight? There are a lot of rumors circulating when it comes to getting a bargain. From deleting cookies in the browser to booking a flight on a Wednesday.

Here are my tips and instructions on how to go about finding flights. Incidentally, the more and more often I fly, the more important I attach to getting to my destination as quickly as possible. Preferably with a night flight. For this I am happy to pay 100 - 200 € more for plane tickets. But I'm also not a student or trainee who has to pay attention to every penny. Fortunately, that time is long gone.

1. Book flights early

I am spontaneous and don't like planning very much. But planning and booking early really pays off. Last minute bargains are only very rare.

Rule of thumb for domestic German flights: According to one studio, the cheapest flights are if you book about 6 weeks in advance.

According to this study, tickets are then 40-50% cheaper than on the day of departure. The prices rise rapidly the closer the departure gets (empirical values ​​are 21 days, 14 days, 7 days and 3 days before departure).

For long-haul flights (especially when traveling at popular travel times) you should watch the prices for flights earlier.

Example: Japan at the cherry blossom. If we hadn't been here so spontaneously and had looked for flights more than 3 months before departure, we would have been able to save at least € 300-400 per person (direct flights, for flights with a stopover it would have been less, but definitely more expensive).

2. Flexibility pays off

Be flexible about departure and arrival days. The cheapest day of departure is not always (as is often recommended) a Wednesday, but often Friday. However, only early in the morning or late in the evening. For Flights within Europe Monday is the cheapest return day. Experience has shown that Sunday is the most expensive then. But do you come from one Long-distance travel back, Sunday is often the cheapest.

Therefore: Take your time and check exactly what the flights cost 1-2 days earlier or later. You also have to be flexible when it comes to departure times.

Almost all flight search engines now offer to display a whole month so that you can see how the flight prices differ day by day (examples from Skyscanner and Momondo):

3. Avoid the main travel season on vacation

The main travel season is the holiday season. The demand is great, Tickets are scarce because everyone wants to travel. Avoid if possible school holidays or public holidays or travel from another federal state in which there are no holidays yet.

Also check in the country of arrival whether it is a public holiday or vacation time.

4. Use flight search engines

The best way to find cheap flights (and also the fastest way) are so-called flight search engines. They search all platforms and websites of the airlines in order to find the cheapest offer or the fastest flight for you.

I prefer direct flights and if possible avoid having to change planes more than once. The time that is lost when changing trains is immense. The chance that your luggage won't make it is just as great.

In general, flights with 1-2 stopovers are of course cheaper. So I leave it up to everyone to do what is more important to them: save time or save money.

I recommend these flight search engines (in exactly this order):

The best search engine for an initial overview is Google Flights. You can easily specify multiple departure airports, open jaw flights and alternative nearby destination airports. The search is very simple and clear. Nevertheless, I have found that not all airlines are always listed.

The search engine for joining is simple and really easy to use. You enter your departure airport and destination as usual and select a specific date or "flexible travel dates". When you mouseover the date, the search engine shows you the cheapest day to get your flight ticket.

You can even see how much a First Class flight would cost.

You can also add other departure or destination airports. Sometimes it is worth driving to another airport. For me, Stuttgart and Frankfurt are convenient. I always look for departures from Stuttgart and Frankfurt and then decide which one to choose.

What is the difference between Google Flights and Skyscanner or Momondo?

The common flight search engines get the prices from travel agencies. As a result, these are not always completely up to date. In contrast, Google Flights accesses the airline's data directly. Google claims they can undercut any offer with the cheapest flight.

You also have to be careful with the flight search engines, as there are sometimes high fees when paying by credit card, bank transfer or PayPal.

This was the case on the last flight I helped friends book and we searched over Skyscanner another inexpensive provider that did not charge high transfer fees.

5. Book with or without luggage?

The cheapest way to fly is if you only travel with hand luggage. Not a problem in Europe, but often a big one on long-haul flights, as you usually travel longer.

In addition, there has recently been the problem that flight search engines will show you the cheapest price, but not that this supposedly cheap flight ticket does not contain any luggage to check in.

Happened to me in search of cheap USA flights (Frankfurt - New York). Skyskanner showed me really cheap tickets with KLM, AirFrance (operated by Delta). I booked this flight for 2 friends. In retrospect, it turned out that Delta didn't have any luggage with you to check in. The confusion is great.

Because according to the website you can only book luggage at the airport when you check-in. The information about how much it costs varies from $ 50 to $ 80 per flight. Bingo.

The next day I booked another flight for a friend. This time the first flight was already sold out and surprisingly the cheapest one was with Lufthansa. Except that they now also offer flights with hand luggage only.

I made a booking anyway, because Lufthansa has the service of being able to book the luggage directly for € 50 per flight. Excellent! So this was still the cheapest direct flight from Frankfurt to New York (and back).

So: Pay close attention to whether the price includes hand luggage only. All flight search engines are working on a solution because they are aware of this problem and do not want to annoy searchers.

6. Use the proximity search of Google Flights

Like you in Screenshot you can directly display the airports in the vicinity. Use this function.

Example: Nuremberg. A departure from Munich or Prague could also be worthwhile here, as in the example mentioned in the introduction with the cheap flight to Hawaii (departure was cheapest from Prague).

Check: Try a different departure and arrival airport or arrival and departure location. These don't necessarily have to be the same. Sometimes you can fly up to 50% cheaper as a result.

7. Check the prices directly on the airlines' websites

Immediately after the flight search engine, I go to the website of the airline with the cheapest price. Sometimes you will find the cheaper price then. Unfortunately not very often anymore, as the flight search engines often have contracts with airlines (supposedly) so that they can offer cheaper tickets.

Example booking via flight search engine: I found my flight from Jordan via Dubai to Denpasar (Bali) for over half less kiwi.com. At Emirates direct it would have cost twice as much.

I also found my flight to Florida with Skyscanner cheaper than with Lufthansa direct.

Example booking with an airline: For example, I booked my direct flight to Japan directly with Lufthansa, even though I fly with ANA. This has the advantage that Lufthansa displayed the lower price and I was able to pay part of it with miles.

Note: In the event of a rebooking, you will have the least stress with a direct booking with the airline.

8. Save with one-way tickets

Ok, one-way tickets usually cost as much as the return flight combined. Sometimes (though very rarely) it pays to two single one-way tickets to book. Since my trip to Mexico, I've always been checking whether the flights are cheaper when I am Book outward and return flights separately. This is really very rare, but it has happened to me and I was able to save over 150 euros on direct flights.

As a rule, however, these are more expensive. Every now and then you are lucky like we did back then on our flights from Frankfurt - Cancun and Cancun - Frankfurt with Condor.

9. Use programs to earn miles

It has become really difficult to earn miles now. If you are not yet registered for a bonus program, you should still do so. You earn miles with every flight. If you fly regularly or often on long-haul flights, you will quickly accumulate credit with which you can get your next flight cheaper, treat yourself to an upgrade or even fly for free.

The fact that there are no really good credit cards for earning miles in Germany is due to the fact that the EU has regulated "interbank fees". This means that the banks are no longer allowed to charge such high fees for credit card transactions. That’s why there’s not so much money left to invest in miles. In America it looks totally different, because they have really good miles-collecting credit cards.

My preferred credit card for earning miles since Air Berlin left it has beenMiles and More credit card from Lufthansa. I also collect miles by paying for my mobile phone bill and other purchases (e.g. Apple Store) with my credit card. Since then, the miles have increased very well and I hope to be able to enjoy Frequent Flyer status for the first time this year. Keep your fingers crossed!

I now use Miles and More to pay all bills (mobile phone bill, Amazon, ...). With Miles and More Gold, I get one mile credited for every euro. In the meantime, over 60,000 award miles have accumulated. This is a long-haul flight to the USA, South America or Asia. Awesome, isn't it?

10. Subscribe to newsletters

Register for the airlines' newsletters or flight search engines. This is particularly worthwhile in Asia (e.g. AirAsia) or well-known airlines (Qatar, Etihad, Lufthansa). Here you will often find attractive offers for a limited period of time.

11. Search for cheap flights in bargain portals

Due to errors in the software's calculation, it can happen that flights are spent too cheaply. Then you get a real flight bargain (by the way, some claim that it is sometimes a marketing measure by airlines).

How do you find such tariffs? On blogs that specialize in finding and publishing these error fares. Point 2 also applies here: Be flexible.

You have to be extremely careful with these error fares: It has also happened that the ticket was declared invalid at check-in. Incidentally, the introduction to the cheap ticket to Hawaii was an error fare and everything went well.

Link tips for error fares with bargains:

When are the cheapest flights?

Again and again I realize that you just have to watch long enough. One study allegedly states that the cheapest flights can be found on a Thursday.
I already found a cheap flight on a Wednesday.

Is it worth flying to small airports? Are they cheaper?

Large airports have a higher frequency and occupancy. As a result, the airlines also have a higher occupancy rate. This means that fees are lower. In addition, several airlines fly the same routes at major airports. This increases the competitive pressure. That is why the flights are often cheaper. With low-cost airlines you often have hidden costs or problems with rebooking. I avoid this.

What tips do you have for booking a flight? Which flight search engines do you use?

Don't you want to miss any more information?

Come ‘to theMUCH ON THE GO Community on Facebook. In this closed group you can exchange ideas with travel enthusiasts.

Follow me Facebook, Twitter, ;Pinterest and Instagram and regularly subscribe to news via Newsletter or RSS feed.

Transparency and Trust: There are recommendation links in this post. For you that means: No additional costs. But: If you buy something via a link, I receive a small commission. You will not incur any additional costs, but help me to run this site and to support the blog and my work! Thank you so much!

Transparency and Trust: There are recommendation links in this post. For you that means: No additional costs. But: If you buy something via a link, I receive a small commission. You will not incur any additional costs, but help me to run this site and to support the blog and my work! Thank you so much!

You might also be interested in these articles