April 17, 2020

How to find cheap flights after Covid-19

The aviation and travel industry have probably been the hardest hit by the Covid-19 Coronavirus. The world’s major airlines have all but stopped flying international routes leaving a few domestic services operational. Their fleets either grounded or flown to storage facilities across the world.

British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic have brought forward fleet retirement for many of their aircraft including the Airbus A320, A340 and the Boeing 747-400. The industry is also reporting that several airlines have already retired some or all their A380 super jumbo’s. A firm favourite with passengers, the A380 has never really been popular with the airline revenue teams.

Any four engine commercial passenger aircraft are seriously under threat with the A340 surely to be the first to disappear from our skies completely.

So, what will the industry look like post Covid-19 and will cheap flights become available as soon as restrictions are lifted.

The airlines are already talking to their relevant governments about financial support. They also want to see air traffic control charges frozen and air passenger duty suspended for the first few months to stimulate demand. It is likely that the low-cost airlines will be quick to resume flying but we may also see a reduction in the number of destinations being offered.

EasyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air have brought forward its winter timetable to encourage passengers to move at no cost any flights disrupted by the coronavirus to alternative dates with many flights to European destinations being offered from as little as £19.99 one way.  This still represents unbelievable value for money and these flights are available now before any seat sales the airlines may introduce.

Scheduled airlines may take a little longer to get fully operational with many of their larger long-haul aircraft stored across the world. Having said that, we are already seeing some of the cheapest international fares for many years being published by some of the major airlines. Virgin Atlantic and KLM are offering return flights from London to Los Angeles from as little as £214 for travel between late October 2020 to February 2021. Manchester to New York with Virgin from just £211 return for travel between August 2020 and February 2020.

There are cheap flights out there and available to book right now. So, you can still book that dream trip if you know where to look.

Today, I am going to help you master the art of finding a cheap flight by showing you the same exact steps I take every time I need to fly, no matter where you want to go in the world.

1. Forget the Flight Myths

The first thing to remember when it comes to finding cheap flights is that there is no magic trick or stealth tactic involved in doing so.

Airlines run super advanced computer and pricing algorithms to determine price structures and ticket sales based on several key factors. This includes the time of the year, passenger demand, weather, major sporting and cultural events, aircraft availability, competitor prices and so on.

Any belief that you can fool or hack this system is simply wrong. The airline systems are complex and highly intelligent platforms.

Two of the most common cheap flight myths I hear are: It’s cheaper to buy an airfare on a Tuesday or Wednesday and setting your browser to search incognito helps you get cheaper deals. Well there may be some truth in the first point but certainly not during peak travel periods. Regarding browsing, airlines, flight consolidation and travel sites place cookies in your browser and are able to capture your flight search history.

2. Be Flexible on your travel dates

We all know airline tickets vary in price massively depending on what time of year we want to travel. School holidays, Christmas, New Year, Bank Holidays and Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July in the US. These are the peak times when everyone wants to fly, and demand is usually higher than supply.  So, this is where airlines make their money charging premium prices for the most in-demand destinations. If you are looking for a bargain during these times, you’ll need the best of luck on your side.

To get the cheapest or most attractive airfares we need to look outside the key holiday dates and fly off-peak or off-season. Searching for dates in these times will lead you to discover some amazing bargains and if you are flexible with your travel dates then you can really have some fun.

When searching off-peak or off-season dates this is when it will be cheaper to fly in the middle of the week rather than on a weekend. Even in low season, people still want to travel on weekends either for a quick get away of for a week’s holiday. The other key thing to remember here is that early morning flights and late night or red-eye flights are almost always cheaper because fewer people want to travel at these times.

By choosing to fly at these times, you can make significant savings.

Airlines are now so switched on, they know when there are festivals, major sporting events, school holidays and bank or national holidays taking place, they set their prices according to demand rising to a peak when seat availability is at its most scarce.

3. Don’t be fixed on one Destination

So, if being flexible with your travel dates is important then being flexible with your destination is equally important if you want to maximise the opportunity for finding the cheapest flights on offer.

Airlines have made it extremely easy to find cheap tickets by making their flights available to huge numbers of flight comparison websites around the world. Websites like Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo and my favourite Google Flights all have search tools to enter your departure airport and see a world map that display the flights available. This will often throw up some amazing destinations that you may not have even considered.

Obviously if you add you a small regional airport as your chosen departure point then options will be limited. Add a major international airport as your chosen departure point then you will have endless choices to select from.

Flexible travel dates along with keeping an open mind on travel destinations is key to your success in finding some fantastic low fares. Let’s use my favourite tool and start looking for some great deals. These deals are available to anyone and not just the travel gurus and influencers.

You can add your own dates and destinations to the search criteria but for now, let’s create an outline trip I would like to take.

My trip:
10-day city break in Europe (Fixed dates – 13th – 23rd October 2020)
No of cities: 3
Leaving from: London, UK

Step 1: Go to Google Flights and click on the map: Note: The map displayed will be based on your location.

Find Cheap Airline Tickets with Google Flights

Step 2: I am looking for multiple single trips to build my itinerary. Follow the 1, 2, 3 and 4 numbers on the image. 1. Select 'One Way', 2. select 'London All Airports' , 3. select the 13th October 2020 and 4. Move the price slider down to the maximum you are willing to pay.  Now you can look at a wide variety of options on the map available from all London airports. I have highlighted my selection 'Barcelona' in the red box.

Use Google Flights for Finding Cheap Air Fares

I randomly selected Barcelona as my first destination for £25, London LTN to Barcelona BCN. To view the range of flights available for this price, simply click on the destination and price on the map.

To book your next leg, repeat as above however change your departure city to Barcelona (All airports) and the date you want to leave – for example Friday 16th October. Now you will see all the destinations and prices available from Barcelona on that day.  Just repeat the process as many times as you like.  Here’s the itinerary I came up with.

Flight 1: Tuesday 13th October 2020
London LTN – Barcelona BCN         
Cost: £25

Flight 2: Friday 16th October 2020
Barcelona LTN – Rome FCO            
Cost: £27

Flight 3: Tuesday 20th October 2020
Rome FCO – Paris ORY                   
Cost: £35

Flight 4: Friday 23rd October 2020
Paris CDG – London LTN                 
Cost: £30

That's 4 International flights for just £117 including all taxes. With airfares there’s always a deal to be had somewhere and being flexible on your travel dates and destinations can save a lot of money as I have just shown.

4. Fly Budget Carriers and not Full-Service Airlines

Low cost airlines are now real competitors to full-service airlines, not just on short haul routes but on transcontinental routes as well. Most people don’t even think of low-cost options when it come to flying long haul, but they should. This makes it possibly to fly around the world at very competitive prices.

Norwegian Airlines has by far the most transcontinental routes of any low-cost airline now. It offers direct flights from several major European and UK airports to 11 major cities in the US, as well as flights to Brazil, Argentina and Thailand and to a vast array of European destinations.

Level Airlines is a low-cost airline with hubs at Barcelona (BCN), Amsterdam (AMS), Paris (CDG) and Vienna (VIE). They fly throughout Europe, to Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Montreal in North America and Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Martinique and Guadeloupe in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Level Operate from Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris and Vienna

Level operate Airbus A330-200 aircraft on transatlantic routes.


Air Asia offers ultra-low air fares throughout Asia and Australia. Flights can be from as little as $9 one way domestically and flights intercontinental flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Sydney (SYS) from as low as $90 one way. That’s a flight of over 8 hours in length! Incredible value.

Middle Eastern Airlines such as Pegasus (Turkey) and FlyNas (Saudi Arabia) offer connecting flights from major European and UK airports to destinations Europe, the Middle East and India.

Indian low-cost airlines offer cheap travel through the whole Indian sub-continent and into the Middle East and beyond.

Here are some of the most popular low-cost airlines in the world:




Flying low-cost airlines is a great alternative to flying the major airlines. You may get fewer perks, but you can save a heap load of money. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you book.

Low-cost airlines make their money in many ways and some that you may not have even considered. Look out for charges for checked bags (in the hold), carry on baggage, printing your boarding pass, booking seats, priority boarding and even using credit cards. Make sure you factor all these in and then compare them with fares from the major airlines.  Then you can get a true comparison.

 

5. Don’t Always Fly Direct

You’ll often find that airlines charge a premium to fly to their premier destinations. Your destination of choice may well offer direct flights however have you ever considered it may be a lot cheaper to fly indirectly and take advantage of some amazing savings.

The whole point of being flexible with travel dates and your destination of choice is to unlock cheap airfares. Adding an extra flight or a stopover can in many cases bring the cost of your flights down significantly.

For example, a return flight in December 2020, from London (LHR) to New York (JFK) with a major American carrier is currently on sale for £320. If you are flexible on dates, you could get purchase two single flights, one from Barcelona (BCN) to New York (JKF) for 83 and the second for the reverse trip for 109. Connecting EasyJet flights from London (LTN) to Barcelona (BCN) are available from as little as £59 return. Your total cost would be circa £222 for the same flight. Is the saving you can make enough to make you fly indirectly? If you’re in a rush then probably not but if you have a large family, these savings can really add up.

If you do book separate tickets for flights, then the best piece of advice I can give you is to make sure you have a minimum of three hours between your connections. This gives you flexibility if your flight is delayed or if you must go through the check-in process once again assuming you have bags or cases to check-in. If you are using two separate airlines, then your second flight will not wait for you. Furthermore, travel insurance companies stipulate a minimum amount time – normally 3 hours, for such connections before you can claim on the policy for missed flights.  Please check your insurance small print.

This is especially true when flying throughout the US. Your bags won’t be checked through to your final destination, so after your first flight, you will need to clear immigration, collect your bags from the carousel and find where your connecting flight is departing from. This maybe from a different part of the airport or a completely different terminal that may require a trip on a transit bus or tram.

Denver Airport Terminal Shuttle

Terminal Shuttle Train at Denver International Airport


If you have bags to check in for your second flight, then you will need to go through the check-in process once again and clear passenger screening (TSA). US airports are notorious for huge TSA queues at peak times so always allow enough time for these eventualities. This may sound like a lot of hassle to save money but believe me, if you plan accordingly and make the process work for you, then it will become such a normal thing to do.

6. Look Out for Special Deals

Ever wonder how some of the lowest priced flight deals are always taken way before you even find out about them?  When you watch the travel and aviation gurus on YouTube review a flight and the say they got it a ridiculously low price and think how the heck did that happen.

Well you can get a piece of the action too by subscribing to specialist websites that literally spend every day looking for amazing deals. Their teams trawl the Internet day in day out and distribute flight opportunities to their subscribers. Some of the flights may also be mistakes made by the airlines themselves and will be available until they have spotted the mistakes themselves, so you need to act quickly. These can be wrong calculations on currency conversions right through to simple human errors made when inputting data to their websites. If you’re lucky to be able to book one of these, you will find virtually all airlines will honour that booking in full.

Holiday Pirates Cheap Flights

Holidaypirates.com


Joining the mailing list for these websites will ensure when you don’t miss out on incredible deals.  Usually these deals have a limited window of opportunity – sometimes less than 24 hours so being able to book quickly is the key to success.

Here are some of the best websites for finding cheap travel deals:

Airfarewatchdog – US flight deals.

The Flight Deal – Worldwide flight deals.

Flynous - Worldwide flight deals

Holiday Pirates – European & US flight deals.

Scott’s Cheap Flights – US flight deals.

Secret Flying – Worldwide flight deals.

7. Use a VPN

Major airlines and travel companies are well known to price discriminate and offer completely different prices for the same flights based on where the user is located. While this may seem unfair, you can easily use this to your advantage.

Websites can easily determine your location using the following information.

  • An Internet Protocol (IP) address is like your ID number on the Internet – and informs websites exactly where you’re located. Any website you connect to is able to see your personal IP address.
  • They place cookies on your device. These cookies track and store information about your activities on their website.
  • Websites may also use the GPS features on your device to see your exact location and use it to determine which pricing they offer you.
  • When connected to WIFI, websites can track your location if you give them permission.
  • Airlines and travel companies can also use your chosen payment currency to infer your location and make judgments on your socioeconomic status.

Some or all of these hidden tactics may be employed to determine what prices they make available to you. It’s also the reason why you can end up paying more than someone else in a different part of the world using a different currency – even if you’re both looking at the exact same date, airline and flight.

How to Find Cheaper Flights with a VPN

So how can you take advantage of this and make these websites think you are based in a different part of the world?  Simple – use a VPN (Virtual Private Network to search for tickets both anonymously and as though you were located in another country.

  1. Take the following steps to find and book some great deals on flights:
  2. Search for flight deals on a website like KAYAK.com or Expedia.com without using a VPN.
  3. Mark down which flights you’d like to take.
  4. Fire up your VPN and connect to a server in a different country.
  5. Open up an incognito window in a separate browser.
  6. Search for flights just like you did in Step 1.
  7. Compare the prices.
  8. Repeat Steps 4 to 7 to find the best prices and book as required.

I currently use two VPN’s, SaferVPN and Surfshark and both work brilliantly finding cheap flights, hotel rooms and car hire. The links provided are sponsored links which means if you click then and buy the software, this channels gets a small amount f commission to help keep this community going.

Here's a few examples of the savings you can make.

Save on Flights with a VPN

 Example Savings on Flights Using a VPN

Savings on Hotels Using a VPN

Example Savings on Hotels Using a VPN

Example Savings on Car Hire Using a VPN

Example Savings on Car Hire Using a VPN

 

Tricks to Finding Good Deals on Flights

You might be wondering: What are some tactics to finding good deals on plane tickets.

1. Change your IP address to a low-income country

You’re more likely to find deals if you search for the flights you want with a VPN server in a poorer country – e.g., India, Vietnam or Romania. You will often get much better deals These sites will generally offer better deals because they expect people in those countries will be unwilling to pay as much as someone in the UK or US.

2. Change your IP address to your destination country

I’ve also found it helpful to change my VPN server location, so it’s based in the place I’m looking to travel to. Some airlines offer special local deals you won’t be able to get unless you have a local IP address.

3. Change your IP address to the airline’s home country

The same goes if when I switch my IP location, so it’s based in the airline’s home country. For example, if you’re traveling with an Indian airline, switch to a India IP address – and you may well find the fares offer and much lower.

8.Take Advantage of Student Discounts

Many airlines and travel agencies offer discounts to students (under 26) usually between 20-30% off the standard fare. Travel agencies such as Travel Cuts, CheapOair, Generation Fly, STA Travel and Flight Centre can help with finding cheap air fares and accommodation.

It’s also worth remembering most airlines have discount fares for students so you can book with one airline and get the same discount fares with their partner airlines too.

If you’re not sure which airlines offer student discount fares, take a look at their website or contact them via social media to find out.

9.  Airline Points and Travel Miles

I am not a great advocate of promoting Credit Cards as a great way to cheap or free flights. They can be a god send to some people and unlock hidden discount fares, free upgrades and use of airport travel lounges around the world. However, I know several people who have got into a spiral of debt because they have not used the card effectively. 

In the US a lot of banks use this method to attract users but, in the UK, and Europe they are not so prevalent. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer American Express and MasterCard credit cards and incentivise the holder to use the card in return for some form of exclusive promotion.  My general concern with these is the annual APR rate is often higher than normal credit cards and may also have an annual fee and to qualify for one, your financial status has to be as clean as a whistle.

I much prefer an air miles as a reward system as anyone can start collecting points simply by doing your weekly shop. Shopping giant Tesco have a partnership with Virgin Atlantic where Tesco Clubcard points can be turned into Flying Club miles. You can collect Clubcard points on almost anything you buy in-store, at tesco.com and even Tesco Fuel. Clubcard is free to join and it's a great way to get something back from your everyday spend. Collect Clubcard points and get rewarded.

For example:

Spend £500 per month in store and collect 500 Clubcard points = 1,250 Flying Club miles.

Spend £400 per month on fuel and collect 200 Clubcard points = 500 Flying Club miles.

An average Virgin Atlantic Airways family could earn over 20,000 miles on their everyday spending.

Don't have a Clubcard? Simply join today at tesco.com/clubcard/join

Avios Points is another great way to gain redeemable travel points. If you’re book flights, stay in hotels or hire cars you might as well do it with companies that Avios points. When you have enough points, just exchange them for flights with their airline partners on avios.com

10. Consider hidden city ticketing

Many airlines operate ‘hidden city’ flights. In short, this is where a flight that connects in a city you want to go to is cheaper than flying directly to it. So instead, you book that cheap flight to the other destination but when it connects in your desired city you hop off there.

It goes without question thin can be risky for several reasons.  Here are some factors to consider:

If your luggage is checked in the hold, it may go on to the final destination. For this reason, with hidden city ticketing it's best to have carry-on luggage only.

Before booking, you need to find out if your flight is taking on more passengers at the stop you want to get off at or if there is a change of aircraft. You may not be allowed off the plane if the same plane is continuing onward to its final destination.

Airlines may detect that you did not take your connection. The consequences of this are hard to say, especially since people miss flights all the time.

Skiplagged

Skipplagged.com


The airlines really don’t want you to find out about these fares and until now you had to really look hard to find the, However, there is now a website which finds the hidden city tickets for you. It's called Skiplagged and was recently sued by United Airlines who were angry about this debatable hack. I must point out that I have never used the hidden city approach, but I know several people who have tried this – all on flights in the US and have made some great savings. You have been warned, use the hidden city system at your own risk!


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