How to find cheap flights
It can be quite intimidating to plan a trip. Choosing a flight (s) that does not leave a dent in your account can be a daunting task, but it is well worth it. The first time I booked an international flight was not pleasurable. While there exist many resources online, albeit mostly providing conflicting information, very few are written with the African traveler in mind. This is resource is meant to ensure that you have an better experience than I did – no one should have it otherwise after this. You may even apply whatever you get from the post to booking domestic flights. Let’s jump right in!
The first step when it comes to finding a cheap flight is to use the best airfare search engine.
It is very easy and quick to use an airfare meta search engine. It is also the best way to find the cheapest flights. These sites have been designed to find tickets across different airlines. Tools like price maps depending on destinations, price predictions, and fare alerts by email are embedded within these sites, making finding cheap flights a walk in the park.
Before you confirm your flight, be sure to compare offers from different search engines. You might be surprised by the one that offers the cheapest flight or the best prices – yes, these two are not necessarily the same thing; factors such as opportunity cost and all that come in.
Here are my favorite flight search engines:
- Goibibo (for this one, you’d need a registered Indian number)
- Google Flights
Normally, I first check SkyScanner (I could swear by this site!). I then compare offers from the rest and also from the airline’s official website. It is not uncommon to get a crazy deal from the airline’s website, unlike popular opinion. I saved around $150 on my last trip to Dubai by getting my ticket directly from Kenya Airways – strange and uncommon, but possible.
This step requires patience since it is impossible to say with certainty where the cheapest ticket would be from.
Bonus airfare search engine
I am a great fan of local products. I said bonus because I have not used the site to book any flights. I went through it for the purposes of this article and I am excited to add it to my list. Travelstart Kenya offers intersting deals and you can also subscribe to have deals sent straight to your inbox. Now, this article, as I have already mentioned, is for the African traveler. There are currently many sites like HolidayPirates.com, TheFlightDeal.com, SecretFlying.com, and the AirfareWatchdog.com that have crazy flight deals. However, they are in no way meant for Africans. I found a few deals from Nairobi on SecretFlying.com though. Very few. As such, tools like Travelstart Kenya are a breath of fresh air.
See below how going the extra mile can make all the difference:
(Let’s go to Dubai on 31st October)
Here’s what the official Kenya Airways site gives:
From Travel Start Kenya:
One may then go ahead and, say, look up Air Arabia’s main site to see if what they are offering is cheaper than what the search engines are giving. Again, patience.
Play around with the features!
Most of these search engines have different features that could help you minimize costs extensively. For instance, SkyScanner, if prompted, gives prices for the whole month. I am sure by now you’ve heard that flights are cheapest on Tuesday. While it’s true that most flights are cheap during weekdays, saying Tuesday is being overly specific. Anyway, ask SkyScanner to give you the monthly prices then be the judge.
From the screenshot above, you see it’s also possible to select nearby airports; sometimes checking that box could make all the difference. Instead of choosing 31st October as we’ve done above, let’s check what SkyScanner offers for the whole month, shall we?
Tuesdays are not the cheapest, are they? This brings us to the other point: flexibility. A traveler should not have fixed dates unless it’s very urgent or unavoidable like when you have to attend an event at a certain date. In such cases, be sure to book your flight in advance to avoid disappointments.
Fly Budget Airlines
This should be my next post – a list of all budget airlines, perhaps? Still, most countries have budget airlines and where one’s lucky, some even do inter-continental routes. While there might not be free food or TV, saving a couple dollars makes up for that, right? If it’s a long flight or you generally like eating like me, pack some snacks – bearable that way ??
There is always a first time for everything; do not be intimidated. If you use the tips above, you will not only have an easy time booking your flights, but you will also score the best prices. I am on the lookout for more search engines designed with the African traveler in mind, and I’ll be sure to update the post soon. I’ll also give a detailed description on how to do multi-city bookings and booking legs separately.
How do you book your flights? Do you have a tip you’d love to share? We would love that ?
Cheers to the top!