How to find cheap flights for your next holiday

Post-pandemic, both domestic and international travel have become more expensive, so we asked the airfare experts how to find cheap flights to make travelling more affordable. 

Travelling the world is a dream shared by many people. However, a recent survey of more than 1000 people conducted by comparison website Finder has found that travelling abroad has become unaffordable for 37% of Australians. With that in mind, we’ve delved into Skyscanner data to learn how to find cheap flights for both domestic and international holidays.

Skyscanner travel expert, Jarrod Kris, says that it can be difficult to pinpoint a general period for low flight prices as a number of variables come into play, such as the destination, carrier, stopovers, and other factors. “To truly determine the value of a flight, it’s really up to what the individual traveller values most. For some, that may be securing the cheapest flights, for others, they may want the fastest route, and some people might be more particular about their dates of travel – all of these factors will impact the price.”

People boarding a plane
© Pexels/ Longxiang Qian

Six ways to find cheap flights

Get to know the time period airlines typically have sales

Jarrod says airlines tend to put cheap flights on sale in the lead-up to key holiday periods or major holidays, such as Christmas, while some run weekly sales on a Friday, and others opt for flash sales to promote a new route. The best way to find cheap flights is to stay across the goings-on of relevant airlines or destinations. Sign up for newsletters or early-bird notifications to be among the first to know of any happenings. 

“In the past, we could rely on seasonality to predict the best time to book flights, whether that would be a few weeks ahead, or at a certain time of the day. The reality now is that it differs on a route-by-route basis,” says Jarrod. “Algorithms have become a lot more sophisticated since the world came to a standstill in 2020, and now, looking at the specific route is far more accurate in terms of savings. Having the right intel is crucial to finding the best deals – and properly comparing what’s on offer can reward you with a cheaper-than-average price.”

Book well in advance, or be flexible with travel dates 

One of the best pieces of advice on how to find cheap flights is to book early, or be flexible with travel dates, says Jarrod. “Generally, the earlier you can book, the better. However, if you’re not in a rush to book but know where and when you want to travel, setting up Price Alerts with Skyscanner is a great way to stay on top of the latest pricing changes and jump on the cheapest deal,” says Jarrod. “When it comes to getting more bang for your buck, the real difference in price comes from flexibility in booking rather than picking and choosing fares based on the airline itself.” 

Woman taking picture of a landmark
© Pexels/ Haley Black

Mix and match your airlines and airports 

To find cheap flights, it’s sometimes best to mix and match airlines, and arrival and departure airports. “To get the best price for your trip, consider mixing and matching the airlines you fly with on different legs of the journey,” says Jarrod. “You can also consider flying in and out of different airports, depending on which is cheapest.” 

Avoid travelling during peak season or school holidays 

It comes as no surprise that travelling in the off-season is the quickest way to find cheap flights. “Typically, the months with the highest volume of bookings are April – most likely due to the long Easter weekend – and December for the Christmas holidays,” says Jarrod. “While there are often some good deals floating around during these months, the timing of your booking does not always dictate the cost as there are many variables that determine flight fares.” 

Supply and demand can influence the cost of airfares, and off-season travel can save travellers substantial amounts of money. “Our data has shown that flights to France this past June saw a massive 96% increase in bookings compared to June 2022. June is a particularly popular month to travel to France as it sees 33 times the booking numbers of that of off-peak November, and 17 times that of off-peak March.” 

Man sitting in airport gate lounge
© Pexels/ Kelly

Be open to new destinations

Skyscanner offers travellers a unique ‘Everywhere’ search function which presents a plethora of destination options based on your travel dates, all ranked by price. This will showcase the destinations that currently have the cheap flights. “Swapping your usual break in Bali for Fiji for example, could be an unexpected delight, so let the algorithm decide,” says Jarrod. 

Choose flights that depart at undesirable times

To secure cheap flights, consider travelling very late at night, extremely early in the morning, or even overnight after work. “Depending on how long the flight is, you could get an extra evening, morning or full day at your destination,” says Jarrod. “You might even make it out for a meal or some sightseeing when you land in the evening. Skyscanner allows you to filter for flights by time of day to go even further towards the most hours spent out-of-office. Flying at slightly less popular times means you are likely to get them cheaper, too.”

Read more:
How to book the cheapest flights and hotels with Kayak’s new online tool
Nine common travel mistakes and how to avoid them
Nine destinations where the Australian dollar goes further

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