Many of my friends have asked me, “Buzz, how are you able to find such cheap flights?” Being a teacher who loves to travel, I have to be able to be responsible when it comes to the cost of my trips. To my friends it always seems like I am finding a great deal on airfare. In the past three years here are some of the deals I’ve found:
ORD to Taipei-$541 Roundtrip on American/Cathay Pacific
MSP to Reykjavik-$189 one way Icelandair
MSP to Amterdam-$486 roundtrip on Delta
ORD to Amsterdam-$480 roundtrip on American/British
Auckland to Honolulu-$421 roundtrip on Air New Zealand
So here is my secret. It’s nothing special but it definitely works for me. The secret to finding good deals for me is that I don’t care where I go. My goal is to go to 50 countries by the time I am 50. I have a list of 75 places I’d like to go and I do not care about the order. The best way to find flights is by using Google Flights “everywhere search.” Simply type in the dates that you want to travel and search “everywhere” or a region such as “Latin America” or “Asia.” Here is an example of a search I recently made to Europe.
Looking at this map there are definitely some destinations that look like good deals. Copenhagen for $447, Oslo for $490, and Dublin for $469. Let’s say I decide that I want to go to Dublin. Here is the next great feature about Google Flights. I now take my destination and plug it into the search box. It will now show me the round trip price for all of the dates on the calendar.
In this example, I not only don’t care where I go, but I don’t care when. Let’s pretend I have a week to take off of work. March 27th has the best airfare at $390 so I am going to select that date. Here is our flight to Dublin for $390. It is on Iceland Air with a stop in Reykjavik.
Google flights does not provide booking links so now we must book our flight. I would then go to Icelandair’s website and see if the price is the same. In this case, the price of the flight is exactly the same. As is common these days, this particular fare does not include a checked bag, but it does allow the traveler to choose their seat and bring a carry on. Now let’s say that I am a Delta loyalist and hope to earn status by only flying Delta. No problem, I can now make it so Google Flights only searches Delta and their partner airlines. By selecting “Airlines” and clicking on the “SkyTeam” option, I can now search by airlines that would earn Delta miles.
Looking at this map it now appears that Oslo is the best priced destination. If Oslo is a destination that I haven’t been to, that’s now where I would be going. As before, the next step is to now look at the calendar and see if any dates are cheaper.
I found a price of $378 for a one week trip leaving on March 26th and returning on April 2nd. The price is pretty similar booking on Delta.com coming in at $398 for a round trip ticket. This ticket is booked at Delta’s Basic Economy price. It would be an extra $150 to upgrade to the full economy ticket
Now comes the real fun part. Let’s say I want to go to two destinations during my trip. I can now search “Dublin” to “Europe” and see what other European Destinations are inexpensive.
I could then head to London for $40, Madrid for $69, or Paris for $52. These are all roundtrip prices. Using this method, I could go to Dublin ($390) and London ($40) for $430 total. The cheapest flight directly from MSP to London for the same dates would cost $841. This method is almost 50% cheaper and allows a bonus destination.
Europe is overall much cheaper than other regions. Let’s consider Southeast Asia for a moment. Even more money can be saved when booking a flight to Southeast Asia. Last summer, I wanted to go to Japan. Flights from Minneapolis to Tokyo were $1800. Never fear, Google Flights to the rescue. I found a flight from MSP to Taipei for $541 and then went from Taipei to Tokyo for $480. This was much cheaper than the direct flight and allowed a bonus destination. I will add that my flights to Taipei and Tokyo both had the economy seats with extra leg room. Had I opted for the basic economy they would have been cheaper.
One of the keys to finding cheap airfare is to check daily. I check Google Flights a few times a day and when I find a good fare I book right away. Hopefully this page provides some good information for finding cheap airfare.