How to Find Affordable Flights to Any Destination

Unless you’re planning a staycation or driving to your destination, your airfare is likely to be one of the most expensive parts of your next trip. It’s undeniable that flights have become more expensive since the beginning of 2020 and inflation continues to drive prices up.

At Addition Financial, we always want to help our valued members save money on their travel plans. We’ve put our heads together to create this guide to help you learn how to find a cheap flight to any destination. Here’s what you need to know.

Does Timing Impact the Cost of Airline Tickets?

The first thing you need to know about how to find a cheap flight is that the time you book your plane ticket, and the time and day you fly, can impact how much you pay for your ticket.

When Should You Book a Ticket?

Let’s start with the biggest timeframe, which is when you should book your flight ticket. You can track airline prices at any time, but our research indicates that airline tickets tend to be at their least expensive if you book between four months and three weeks before your intended departure date.

You can book further in advance if you choose. In fact, if you find a great deal and you’ve been tracking prices to a destination for a while, you should take advantage of booking flights early if the opportunity arises.

That said, in most cases you will pay more if you book more than four months ahead of time or wait until less than three weeks before your trip to book. 

The day of the week you book your flight doesn’t have much of an impact. However, some observers have pointed out that booking early in a week, on a Monday or Tuesday, may mean that there’s more availability of inexpensive tickets.

When Should You Fly?

The next decision is when to fly, and this is where timing can make a significant difference in how much you pay for your airline ticket.

According to, the cheapest day to fly is Tuesday and Wednesday is a close second. In fact, a Tuesday flight may be up to $85 cheaper than a flight on another day. Saturdays, Mondays and Thursdays are the next best times if you want to save money. (We should note here that Saturdays are typically affordable for domestic flights, not international ones.)

You should also know the most expensive dates to fly, which are typically Friday and Sunday. The only exceptions are for budget airlines with limited flights. These carriers tend to have lower rates whenever they fly and that may include Fridays and Sundays.

You should also consider the time of day. Most people don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to go to the airport or depart late at night. For that reason, early morning and late night flights tend to be more affordable than midday flights.

What is the Best Way to Search for Affordable Flights?

Searching for affordable flights can be time consuming and frustrating. Here are some tips to help you find cheap flights as quickly (and with as little stress) as possible.

Use Flight Search Engines

The first choice you make when searching for a flight deal is which tool to use in your search. A review of the most recommended flight search engines revealed that the two that have the best ratings are Google Flights and Skyscanner, which is also available as a mobile app.

Flight search engines make it easy to compare flights and even to compare different destinations and airports. You may also want to consider using a flight tracking app to look for flights.

Track Discounts and Prices

One of the best things you can do if you want to save money on airfare is to track prices to your desired destination. Apps can help. One popular example is Hopper, which you can use to track price changes and book flights.

Another option is to sign up for one of the many available mailing lists that notify you of discounts and flight deals. Some of the most popular include the following:

These are all websites that have mailing lists. By providing your email address, you can get regular updates on cheap flights.

Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates

As we mentioned above, flying midweek is often far less expensive than flying on peak days. If you’re willing to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or early in the morning or late at night, you can save on your flight.

For example, if you use Google Flights, you have the option to choose specific travel dates or flexible dates. If you click Flexible Dates, you can then specify the length of your trip and the approximate time period, e.g. one-week trip within the next six months.

free vacation budget template

Be Flexible with Your Airports

Another search option to consider is expanding your search to other airports. Flying from a major hub may sometimes be the best choice, but sometimes it’s less expensive to fly into a small airport that’s still within a reasonable distance of your destination.

Let’s look at an example. Say you wanted to travel from Orlando to New York City. You could fly from Orlando International, but you might find a less expensive flight if you traveled out of Orlando Sanford or even Tampa, although the latter would involve some driving.

At the other end, you might find that it’s less expensive to fly into Newark or Hartford than it is to fly directly into New York City. If you’re willing to be flexible, you can save money.

Be Flexible with Your Destination

This next search tip won’t apply if you’re going to your friend’s destination wedding or you have your heart set on a honeymoon in Fiji. But, if what you want is an affordable getaway, then you may want to consider choosing your destination based on the prices you find.

With Google Flights, you can enter your home city and then click on the map to see prices for locations around the US and around the world. You may find that a flight to Paris is significantly less expensive than one to Brussels, and choose to fly into Paris and take a train to Brussels. Or, you may get inspired by what’s available and decide to visit someplace you never considered.

Travel in the Off Season

Traveling to any location in peak season is going to be expensive. That’s the law of supply and demand in action. Everybody wants an island vacation in the middle of the winter, but if you’re willing to travel at other times of year, you can save.

Before you search for a flight to any destination, find out when the peak travel season is and plan accordingly. You may be able to save hundreds of dollars if you’re willing to travel when it’s less crowded. As a bonus, you’re also likely to save on expenses after you arrive at your destination!

Be Willing to Take an Indirect Route

While it’s certainly nice to take a non-stop flight, the truth is that it may be significantly less expensive to fly if you’re willing to change planes on the way there and back.

Instead of searching only for direct flights, search all flights and compare. It may not be worthwhile to change planes twice to save a few dollars, but if adding a stop can save you $100 or more, then it may be something you want to do.

Shop for Travel Bundles

It’s always a good idea to look at flight prices to get a baseline for your destination, but you may be able to pay less if you find a bundle that includes your airfare and hotel, or airfare and a rental car – or all three.

Before you buy a bundle, check the price for each individual element to make sure you’re getting a bargain. If you’re not, then you can keep looking.

Book Single Tickets

When you book multiple seats at once, the airline is always going to list both tickets at the most expensive price. Since prices can vary even on the same flight, you may be able to save by booking one seat at a time.

The caveat here is that you may not be able to sit together, although you can certainly try to choose a seat for your first ticket that has available seats around it. If you’re okay with not sitting together, then you can potentially save hundreds of dollars with this tip.

Join a Frequent Flier Program or Get a Rewards Card

Finally, if you have a rewards credit card or you’re a member of a frequent flier program, you can earn points or miles to use toward your trip. 

We believe that anybody who flies regularly should be doing both: earning points for purchases and earning miles for every trip. That way, you’ll be able to maximize your savings any time you travel.

Which Airline Has the Cheapest Flights?

Our final tip for finding cheap flights deserves its own section. While there are certain advantages to flying with a major airline, the fact that most carriers have started charging for everything a la carte means that there are fewer amenities to lose if you travel with a discount airline.

Some airlines have affordability built into their business model. Southwest is a perfect example. They have made a name for themselves by providing affordable flights with minimal amenities.

According to Scott’s Cheap Flights, the best budget airlines for domestic travel are Southwest, Avelo, JetBlue and Breeze Airways. The best for international flights include Air Canada Rouge, LEVEL Airlines, JetBlue and Air Asia X.

You can find affordable flights to any destination with the tips and tricks we’ve included here. By combining our search tips with your points or airline miles, you can keep your flight affordable and use the money you save for other things.

Are you looking for a rewards card that gives generous points for travel? Addition Financial can help! Click here to learn about our Premier Rewards card and apply today.

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