Are you ready to book your flight for your next holiday?
You can still be a winner and pose like Usain Bolt!
Here’s the deal:
I will go through some top tips for saving money when booking your flights…
…so you can buy a few extra drinks on the beach!
You may not look so much like Bolt after your holiday though.
But, it’s not like you were planning to right?!
Let’s get dug in
Keep your searches top secret for super savings (save money in 2 seconds flat)
It happens to me all the time. I go to book a flight and I find a good price but hesitate. Mostly because I want to have a look at other sites to compare options before I commit. You’re not crazy for thinking that a flight price has changed after searching it a few times. Based on the cookies in your browser (little bits of data websites can track), flight prices do increase when a particular route is repeatedly searched as the site wants to scare you into booking the trip quickly before prices get even higher. Increasing your urgency to buy, punishing you for trying to get a good deal. In this section, I will teach you how to stop it happening to you.
Why does this happen?
But what is a cookie?
A cookie is a small file that is downloaded from a site when you visit it. Cookies are typically used to manage items in your shopping cart, personalize your experience by offering relevant content, and track the pages visited over time.
Generally speaking, this isn’t a big deal. Cookies improve the customer experience on most sites. Prices on most sites are static. They won’t change regardless of how often you check them. But airfares are different.
How Airlines Abuse Your Search History
When you search a particular route, the cookie stores the details. It also remembers the dates and number of passengers. What this means is that their server can see if a particular route is in high demand (by you). When something is in demand, the price will increase. We’ve run tests on tickets that we eventually purchased, and it remained true almost each time. Ticket Warning: The more you search a route, the more the price increases.
Don’t let inflated ticket prices keep you from traveling or make you pay over the odds.
Little bits of data airlines and comparison sites use to push up the price? Don’t believe it?
See our little experiment:
After a couple of days checking prices I am offered this price that kept rising:
Just seconds later, using an incognito browser:
That’s a massive saving of $93 for only using an incognito browser and not letting the websites see your browsing history! You can get around this is by using an incognito browser when searching for flights. This stops the site seeing your cookies – what you have already looked at and searched – so they can’t go “Oooh, this guy KEEPS checking flights to Barbados, he must REALLY want to go…Let’s put the price up because we know how keen he is”.
Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest prices.
If you’re using:
- Google Chrome or Safari, Incognito is enabled by hitting Command (or “Control” if using PC), Shift, “N”. Note: if you’re using an older version of OS X, open Safari then select “Safari” in the menu bar, and select “Private Browsing”.
- Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “P”. This will open a new browser window where your information is not tracked, thus not inflating prices as you search.
Your cookies are reset each time you re-open an incognito window. So if you want to start with a clean slate for each flight search (so your previous searches aren’t “remembered”, potentially inflating costs), close all your incognito windows, open a new one, and then perform your flight search.
Search over 1000 flight combinations in less than 3 minutes.
With the wonders of the internet, we are all much savvier when it comes to shopping and finding bargains online. Take a look at the rise of eBay and Amazon. However, different comparison sites search different airlines and have massively different features, so check at least two.
My Top Pick Flight Comparison Sites For You
All allow you to search by flight class and include travel brokers, charter airlines, and budget airlines. Here’s our top 3.
- Kayak for range, speed & filtering. It allows you to filter options based on credit/debit card fees and whether or not you want to check in bags so you can compare costs more accurately. It also looks for the cheapest inbound and outbound flights and doesn’t automatically pair both legs with the same airline to maximise savings both ways!
- Skyscanner for the very cheapest time to fly. Skyscanner gives you fare options spread over a month to find exactly when’s cheapest. It has particularly strong coverage of budget flights, searching over 1,000 airlines in total. Pretty impressive right?
- Momondo for flight data. Momondo is a metadata search engine and works similarly to the likes of Skyscanner. However, its standout feature is the ‘Flight Insight’ data it gives you on some routes. It helps pinpoint when they recommend to book, which day to fly and even which airport’s cheapest for that specific flight.
When you’re ready to book, don’t assume one of these is best and will always come up cheapest – try the other 2 to see if you can beat it.
Want to know how many days before departure to book for the cheapest flights? Check out our Perfect time to book flights section
Timing is Crucial
When looking for cheap flight tickets, timing is crucial. Flights should be booked early. Business folk will pay top dollar at the last minute, so prices soar. Unless you prefer sticking with the same airline and you’re holding out for a sale you know coming up, it’s usually best to book as early as you can. The latest research from the comparison site Momondo found it’s best to book 53 days ahead and that booking then is on average 26% cheaper than booking on the day of departure. The last cheap booking date varies by destination, so you can use Momondo’s ‘Flight Insight’ tab on many routes to see the data for the flight you want:
- When we looked at a London-Sydney return, booking 54 days ahead was £122 cheaper.
- A flight from London to Lisbon, when booked 52 days in advance, costs on average £209 -compared to the typical price of £287.
- Flights from London to Dubai are cheapest 51 days ahead of travel when it will cost £458 – 20% less than the average fare of £551.
However, Momondo’s figures are based on the prices quoted in their flight searches, and this is an average across all routes so take ’53 days in advance is the perfect day to book’ info with a pinch of salt, as your course might vary from this. As per our example, London-Sydney it was 54 days (only one day off).
If in doubt book early. Hacks you can use when booking early.
Momondo also published research on the cheapest days and time to fly, if saving a further 20% is your thing see: Best days to fly on
The Inception Method
Seen the movie inception? A dream within a dream within a dream? The Inception Method gives you a holiday within a holiday. Spending a few extra days in a stopover city not only gives you a break from flying, but it also lets you experience a new place at no additional cost. Whether you fancy trotting around geothermal pools in New Zealand on your way to surfing waves on the Gold Coast of Australia or soak up the culture at the Batu Cave in Kuala Lumpur!
How you can book your mini holiday within a holiday.
Follow the steps in the Take a Break Technique (It’ll only take 3 minutes) but:
- When you search for 1 or more stop flights, jot down the layover locations that appear in the first few results.
- We will use the same example as the Take a Break Method. From London to Sydney. We can see that the great reoccurring layover destinations are Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
- Write the repeated layover airports down now.
- With Kayak again, select “multi-city”. Enter the same departure airport as before with the original departure date. This time set the destination as the layover airport you prefer the sound of. So we picked Kuala Lumpur.
- For the next leg, select from your layover location to your end destination, and set the date a few days later, so you have a chance to enjoy the layover city!
- Now for the final leg, select the end destination to the origin airport so that you can fly all the way back home at the end of your trip.
It should look similar to this, but with your destinations and dates:
Awesome! You have done a Leonardo DiCaprio. (No, you haven’t finally won an Oscar) You managed to build a holiday within a holiday, and for just £652! For £131 under the price of £783 you got a couple of days in an entirely different city too!
Our favourite Inception Method hotspots:
Reykjavik, flying into Keflavík International Airport (KEF)
The Northern Lights
Anywhere WOW Air flies! The Icelandic airline often have bargains when flying out of their home airport, so whether flying into or out of Europe it’s worth a stop off here!
If you enjoyed this article… as I am sure you did, check out some more tips on how to save money when looking for flights so you can have the holiday you need!
Guest post by Ollie Birk