10 Tricks for Snagging Super Discounted Airfare

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Insider secrets for finding great deals on international flights.

In an era when more and more people are either self-employed or working in offices where vacation time is unlimited and unstructured, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of the opportunity to work from a desk far away from your usual setup. And who doesn’t dream about hopping on a last-minute flight to somewhere pretty to spend a few days in a vacation spot you never would have dreamed up on your own? For the adventurous among us, there are more and more opportunities to spontaneously plan a trip, book a cheap flight somewhere fun and figure the rest out as you go. From newsletters to websites, there are a host of online tools that make it easier to do just that–here are some of our favorites.

Newsletters

A daily email can be a great way to keep hold of inspiration, enticing you with travel deals to points across the globe. Pounce when you find a great price on an interesting destination–these deals often don’t last long.

Dollar Flight Club

This subscription service is no slouch when it comes to finding great deals. Dollar Flight Club sends members targeted emails alerting them to great prices on flights departing from their local airport, saving them an average of 60 to 90 percent (or about 500 bucks!). It’s travel hacking without all the work–just set your departure point and keep an eye on their app or your inbox!

Airfare Watchdog

It pays to stay on top of your Airfare Watchdog emails–they track flights in real-time, so the lists of super discounted flights (both globally and within the US) you see in your inbox might only last a little while before it selling out. But these are flights worth waiting for. Airfare Watchdog emphasizes quality flights at a good price and limited stopovers and short routes.

Travel Pirates

While most newsletters stop at airfare, Travel Pirates (or “HolidayPirates” as it’s called on the other side of the pond), lists flights, hotels, and all-inclusive packages for those of us who hate planning as much as we hate overspending. They send subscribers tailored custom deals, making sure they get the best price on flights, bus, and train deals, as well as vouchers they can use during their time on vacation.

Search Tools

The information age has been empowering for travelers in many regards. It’s easier than ever to find that great hotel, that little locals-only hole in the wall with tons of five-star reviews. The same thing is true of flights, and the more you look, the better deals you’ll find.

[Skyscanner] even tracks industry-wide pricing trends, providing insider analysis on deals like Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday so you can see when it’s the best time to buy.

Skyscanner

For those of us who like to plan in advance, Skyscanner is a great way to track pricing trends. This site features a handy visual tool that shows you price fluctuations across the time period you’re considering for your trip. You can also use flexible booking tools to search for flights according to your preferred departure time, tolerance for layovers, and more. They even track industry-wide pricing trends, providing insider analysis on deals like Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday so you can see when it’s the best time to buy.

Google Flights

When it comes to customizable searches, Google really does it best, and their Flights interface takes this information-gathering behemoth and puts it to good use. Search for destinations with search terms as specific or as general as your heart desires—we particularly love the option to look for tickets in a broad region of the world—so you can plan your trip to Europe or Asia depending on which region is the cheapest to fly to. Set up an alert when the price dips an acceptable amount, and you’ll be notified right in your inbox.

ITA Matrix

If you’re not fussed about a slick website design, it’s worth digging into ITA Matrix which hides serious computing power behind a no-frills appearance. Their search tools are the OG, and use the same software that powers Google Flights, Kayak, and Orbitz. While their website is clunkier than these options, it’s a whole lot more customizable which means better deals on highly-specific flight preferences for the tech-minded among us.

Hopper

There’s something addictive about using Hopper. Their data-driven approach to finding the best prices on flights and hotels means they can help you predict, with 95 percent accuracy, when the best time is to book your latest adventure. Their app has a highly approachable interface, with color-coded calendars showing you the best prices to book, and customizable notifications from their friendly little rabbit mascot, who will notify you when prices are likely to be at their lowest so you can get where you’re going for the lowest possible price.

Sneaky Tricks

When all else fails, we’re not above getting what we want with a little harmless skullduggery. These resources help you take advantages in slip-ups in the well-regulated world of online flight pricing, finding great deals hidden in plain sight.

Secret Flying

Secret Flying pulls out all the stops when it comes to finding ridiculously low-priced fares. They do this by using tricks like digging up mistakenly low priced fares, or helping travelers plan out “open jaw” flights, where they get you great deals where your departure or arrival airport differs from flight to flight. It’s a great resource for planning city or country hopping adventures. Snap up these deals fast—they often don’t last longer than a day or so—by keeping a close eye on their app for the best scoops!

When all else fails, we’re not above getting what we want with a little harmless skullduggery.

Cleverlayover

Inspired by the founders’ experiences travel hacking their way into a more affordable trip to Istanbul, Cleverlayover finds the cheapest combinations of connecting flights across a variety of airports and airlines, so you can use your layover to hop to a different airline and save big. You can connect directly between one airline and another in the same airport, or add a second destination to your trip while saving money on flights.

Skiplagged

This website’s clever algorithm takes advantage of loopholes in airline policies by helping travelers find hidden city flights—itineraries where you pass through multiple destinations before arriving at your final stop—helping you save money by connecting from one airline to another. If you have TSA precheck, or don’t mind standing in that security line more than once, you can save up to eighty percent on the cost of your trip with Skiplagged.