One of the questions that almost everyone asks me is, “How do you find such cheap flights?!” I found and booked both of my European flights for around $300, I did Florida for $95 round trip. I booked a ticket from Chicago to Cebu, in the Philippines for $420 round trip. And those are just trips I’ve booked. I once found a flight from Chicago to Vegas for $27 round trip, but I was unable to book it. There are so many deals out there, you just need to know where to look!
I’ll be honest. It’s not easy. I do a ton of research to make sure that I am getting the very best deals. But I do have some tricks to help you out!!!
This is my holy grail. I have turned so many people onto Secret Flying that I feel like they should be paying me with how much traffic I must have given them! Secret Flying is a website, but it is also an app, and there is a Facebook page. Basically, they do the work of finding cheap flights for you.
If you follow/like their Facebook page, you’ll simply see them posting deals, such as “Johannesburg, South Africa to Frankfurt, Germany for $500 round trip with ______ airline!” They’ll post a description of whatever flight deal they’ve found, and then post the link to their website. If you click the link, you can find more information on this deal on their website. On the website, it will give you more concrete details, such as the dates that this fare is applicable on.
That’s the thing with Secret Flying. They’ll find you great deals, but you’re obligated to fly on the dates that the fare is available for! I’ve gotten lucky and I’ve been able to make the dates work several times, but that’s not always an option. So I’ve had to let some great fares slip through my fingers, such as the Vegas fare I mentioned above.
The website is great on it’s own, as well! You can go online and enter the city you’re hoping to leave from, and it’ll give you all of the deals they’ve found leaving from your city to basically anywhere! And then you can play roulette and just choose a location to go based on what you want to pay.
If you want to be even fancier, you can download the app. I downloaded the app because with the app, I never miss a deal. On Facebook, you don’t necessarily get to see everything that everyone you follow posts. I worry that I’ll miss an amazing deal. With the app, you can create an account and tell it which airports you want to track. I set mine to track Chicago O’Hare. Any time they find any sort of deal leaving from O’Hare, I get an instant push notification. So I don’t miss any deals! I really like the app.
Secret Flying is a great resource for anyone who wants to travel! The only thing is, you can’t be super picky. With Secret Flying, you fly on whatever airline they find, on whatever dates they choose. If you want to upgrade from Basic Economy or Economy to Business or First Class, you’re definitely going to end up paying typical travel rates (although you can sometimes find business/first class deals through Secret Flying). However, if you know how to look, you can sometimes be flexible with the dates and airlines that Secret Flying provides you. And this is where my other favorite website comes into play…
As much as I love Secret Flying, Google Flights is almost more fun! It’s embarrassing to admit how much time I spend playing around on Google Flights. It’s just fun for me to see all the places that I could go, and then I mentally catalog the prices that I see, so that I can know if I ever spot a better deal.
Google Flights is a website that you can visit on your phone or on your laptop. I recommend viewing this site on a desktop or laptop only, because it can lag and be a bit annoying to try and use on your phone. Also, with the computer, you can see all of the features that it provides, such as a map!
If you go to Google Flights, you can enter in your departure, and then the place you’re looking to travel to. If you have specific dates that you are looking at, you can enter those. Once you’ve filled in all that information, Google Flights will pull fares from basically every airline out there. Then it’ll calculate which one will be cheapest on the dates that you want to fly, and tell you to select that specific flight. If you’re like me and picky about your airlines, you can narrow it down and select to view flights only on specific airlines, such as only viewing Delta, or only viewing American. If you’re less picky, you can also choose to view all OneWorld flights, or all SkyTeam flights. Or, you can just go with whichever airline is cheapest, if you’re not at all picky.
Google Flights will then tell you which website to book through if you want the cheapest deal. For example, when I booked Chicago – Cebu, I had to book through Expedia to get the $420 price. If I booked through China Eastern (the airline itself), the fare would’ve increased to $600ish. Same for my Paris trip. I booked through British Airways to get the cheapest price. If I booked through American (the partner of BA who was operating the flights), it would’ve tacked another $400 onto my ticket prices! Insanity. The Google Flights website also handily provides you with the cost of checked and carry on luggage for each airline that you’re flying. It’ll give you a cost breakdown from the flights, and then warn you if the airline has additional costs for baggage. Super handy.
Now for the part of Google Flights that I like to play around with! If you can be flexible with your travel dates, you can select your location and the dates you tentatively want to travel. Then you can open the calendar of dates, and Google will tell you, “well, if you leave two days before the date you chose, it’s $410 instead of $420,” or “if you go in September vs. going in May, you’ll save $400!” Dates where the fare is considered better than usual will have the price in green. This means you’ve found a deal!
To get even further into playing around with Google Flights (and this is what I spend all of my time doing, oops!), you can go in and select your departing airport, and then just leave your destination field empty. Then you can go to “flexible dates,” and specify if you’re wanting to go for one weekend, for one week, or for two weeks of travel. You can have it set to search for those parameters six months away, or you can narrow it down to, “Oh, I want to travel from Chicago to anywhere for one week in May.” You can only look six months in advance, but it’s still fun!
And this was where the map that I mentioned above comes into place. If you’re exploring destinations, you can literally look at a world map. Each airport will be a dot with the price displayed of how much a fare is from your departing airport. It gives you an idea of how many places and how many options are out there! It’s super fun to play around with.
Anyways, I really love Google Flights. It has a nice, clean, easy interface, and is very user-friendly. I always double check any Secret Flying deals on here! And this is what I meant when I said you can kinda fiddle around with Secret Flying deals. If Secret Flying says that you can pay x-amount to fly from Chicago to Rwanda on November 6-18, you can check those dates in Google Flights. You may be able to get the same, or a very similar deal, on dates near those that work better for you! It’s always worth checking, if you find a deal that you’re interested in but you’re not positive you can make the dates work.
Other Ways I Save
Google Flights and Secret Flying are my two biggest “travel hacks.” And there are many other sites out there that do things like this, such as SkyScanner, StudentUniverse, Momondo, and Scott’s Cheap Flights. I just personally like Google Flights and Secret Flying because I find them the most user-friendly and easy to use.
However, there are also other things I do to try and spend as little as possible on flights! And these are just little “extra” things I do, they’re not going to save nearly as much as doing your research and using Google Flights and Secret Flying are, but you’ll be able to save something! As my Grandpa says, “Keep an eye on your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”
One thing I do is use Rakuten! It used to be called Ebates, but now it’s called Rakuten. I always thought this was a scammy/gimmicky thing, but I’ve saved so much money! Even if you’re only getting 5% cashback, you’re still getting 5% of your $500 flight back into your pocket. I also double check the site RetailMeNot to see if they’re offering cashback. Groupon, as well. Because you can stack the cashback! Make sure to double check that you’re using any sort of cashback credit or debit card when you book, too!
My credit card offers 5% cashback on PayPal purchases at certain points during the year. And they have 1% cashback on all other purchases. So what I do, is I pay for my flight through PayPal, with my credit card. Then I’ll get 5% cashback on my card because I used PayPal, and also 1% because I paid with my credit card. There’s another 6% back on top of the 5% Rakuten saved me!
It’s nothing fancy, but those are my other ways of saving some money on my flights! The final thing I recommend is making sure that you sign up for any sort of mileage/rewards program with the airlines you fly! That can also help you save once you’ve accrued some miles!
Hopefully these tips will help you travel for a little bit cheaper! I can’t say enough good things about Google Flights and Secret Flying. They’ve helped me out, and I hope that my spreading the word about them will help others out!