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How to Find Cheap Flights: 8 Hacks Every Traveler Needs

How to Find Cheap Flights: 8 Hacks Every Traveler Needs

Every trip is better when you’re paying less for your flight! Learn how to find cheap flights just by tweaking the way and day you book your trip.

We’re sharing airline industry secrets and hacks to show you the days it’s cheaper to book a flight, how to save on your flight cost by choosing a different airport, tweaking the time of day you book and fly, and more. 

You’re about to pay a lot less to get to your vacation destination – and it all starts with learning how to find cheap flights with tried-and-true methods. 

How to Find Cheap Flights Anytime, Anywhere

  • Use multiple methods to save 50% or more on airfare
  • Optimize your booking day/time + flight day/time
  • Be open to tweaking your itinerary for the best deals

Everyone who travels is interested in learning how to find cheap flights, but not as many of us actually put the tips we learn into practice.

It’s not that it’s hard to learn how to find cheap flights. That part is pretty simple – once you know the hacks and tricks to use to make cheaper flights visible in your search. 

It’s just that the rise of online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia and Kayak tend to make us think we’re seeing the cheapest possible flight price with a few clicks of a button. 

Spoiler alert: Those aren’t the cheapest flight prices available.

In fact, you’ll usually be able to score better deals on flights than you’ll find in any discount OTA to almost any destination at any time with a little research and a few tweaks to your booking process. 

Using a few different methods and industry “secrets,” you can take advantage of less busy weekdays, booking times, and airports and learn how to find cheap flights without relying on an online travel agency to gather and share those deals with you. 

With the average domestic round trip flight costing $330 (and continuing to rise), we’re all for scoring cheaper flights by playing these secrets to your advantage. 

With the hacks and tips you’ll see below, you can save around 50% or more on airfare. Using the average $330/round trip flight price, that could mean savings of around $165 per person! 

When you adjust your booking day and time, pick the right destination, choose the right departure days, and sign up for flight price alerts, you’ll be able to find cheap flights that cut the cost of your trip significantly. 

Let’s take a look at how to find cheap flights using these tried-and-true methods for booking discount flights. 

How to Find Cheap Flights: 8 Hacks That Work

Man using laptop on flight booking webpage shows how to find cheap flights with small houseplant and passport documents nearby

McLittle Stock/Shutterstock

How much would you like to save on your next flight? How about 5%, 15%, or almost 50% off your airfare costs?

That’s exactly what you’ll get when you incorporate these hacks, techniques, and methods that unlock the cheapest flight prices. 

These hacks are confirmed with real flight price data, historical airfare costs, and casual testing with flight browsing tools.

Each one can save you anywhere from 5% to almost 50% on the price of your next flight!

Use any (or all!) of the following tips to find cheaper flight prices that take advantage of the airline industry’s least busy periods and ever-shifting price schedules. 

1. Choose the Cheapest Day to Book Flights

  • Book on Sunday for cheaper flight prices
  • Avoid booking on Friday or Saturday
  • Save 5% to 20% off airfare with Sunday booking

Did you know that the day you book your flight matters in terms of the overall cost? Airlines review their open seats for flights and drop or raise the prices according to the busiest days of the week. 

Price analysis and reporting consistently shows that Sunday is the best day to book flights with cheaper prices than peak days like Friday and Saturday. 

That’s because Sunday sees lower booking volume and fewer people are jockeying for seats on flights. If you can remember to book your flights on a Sunday, you can save anywhere from 5% to 20% on the overall cost of your airfare. 

2. Fly During the Midweek Lull

  • Wednesdays are the cheapest for domestic flights
  • Fly internationally on Wednesday/Thursday
  • Save 15% to 20% off airfare on these weekdays

The day you book is an important piece of the flight pricing puzzle, but so are the days you actually fly. Flying in and out on the right weekdays can save you as much as 20% off your airfare. 

Wednesday is the overall cheapest day to fly domestically, while Wednesday and Thursday are the cheapest days to fly internationally. 

Book your flight to ensure you fly in and out on a Wednesday or Thursday, depending on your destination, to score the best prices on flights.

You can save about 15% to 20% this way, according to historic flight data from Google Flights. If Wednesday or Thursday won’t work, opt for flying on a Monday or Tuesday for smaller (but still helpful) cost savings. 

3. Book the Earliest Flights

  • Book flights around 5:00AM for cheaper prices
  • Choose early flights from 5:00AM to 8:00AM 
  • Save $50+ with the right booking/flight times

The days of the week you book and fly on have direct effects on the flight price, but so does the time of day. 

SkyScanner found that booking flights early in the morning and choosing early flights around 5:00AM to 8:00AM unlocks cheaper flight prices. 

We did a test of our own with round trip flights from Nashville’s BNA to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and New York’s JFK to Miami’s MIA. Both analyses confirmed that early booking/flights have lower prices. 

In each case, prices were about $50 cheaper when an early flight time was chosen from 5-8 AM. Later morning, afternoon, and evening flights were more expensive overall. 

Couplec celebrates sitting on the couch with luggage packed after booking flight for a piece on how to find cheap flights


4. Get Comfortable With Layovers

  • Nonstop flights cost $66+ more than flights with stops
  • Save 20% by booking flights with layovers
  • Make the most of layovers to kill time

Nonstop flights are by far the most convenient for travelers, but they often come with a premium upcharge that makes flying more expensive overall.

Get comfortable with layovers to find cheaper flight options and save hundreds on your next trip. Since the average flight price is around $330 round trip (domestic), a 20% savings could be nearly $70. 

If you’re paying for more than one person to fly, that $70 savings quickly adds up! A family of 4 could save $280 just by booking flights with stops. 

If you hate layovers but want to start reaping the benefits of cheaper flights with stops, focus on filling your time while you wait. Get some work done, walk the airport, or take a nap to help the time pass quickly!

5. Change Your Departure/Arrival Airport

  • Check airports further away for cheaper flights
  • Compare cost savings with car rental costs
  • Save up to 48% on airfare with regional airports

Picking a smaller, regional airport near your home or destination can help you find cheap flights. Some budget airlines will only fly into airports outside of major, high-traffic airports in big cities.

It might be less convenient for your trip, but you can save money by flying out from or into a smaller, cheaper airport.

An analysis of regional airport flight prices found that the least expensive, smaller airport (Arnold Palmer Regional in Pennsylvania) had flight prices about 48% below average. 

With all the money you’ll save flying into a smaller airport, you’ll have plenty left over to rent a car and get to your final destination. Be careful which regional airport you choose, though.

Some, like Bangor International in Maine, can be even more expensive than larger airports. We found a few on the list charging almost 49% more than the average flight price. 

6. Sign Up for Flight Price Alerts

  • Choose your destination and dates for price alerts
  • Be flexible with airports and flight times
  • Act fast to score the cheapest prices on flights 

Researching and tracking flight prices can be exhausting, especially if you’re trying to find the cheapest flights possible. It seems like there’s always a price drop around the corner, but if you don’t act fast, you’ll miss it. 

Sign up for price alerts with (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) and choose your top departure airports to get instant alerts when the flight prices drop. No more obsessively watching flight prices for those sweet, major price drops! 

Going watches over 900 destinations worldwide, so you can sign up to get alerts for any of your must-visit locations. The more flexible you are (and more departure airports you add), the better the flight prices you’ll find. 

Just make sure you’re ready to act fast when the price drops for your airport and destination. These deals go fast and can be over in a flash. 

Person holding calculator on airplane runway indicates the concept of how to find cheap flights


7. Consider One-Way Flights

  • Score “hacker fares” by booking 2 one-way flights
  • Book with different airlines for the biggest savings
  • Save $40-$100 with this cheap flight hack

You might be able to find cheaper flights by getting two one-way tickets instead of buying round trip. Choosing different airlines for your departure and return flights is the best way to score big savings. 

The New York Times analyzed prices for round trip and one-way flights out of O’Hare and into LAX to test this hack. They found two one-way flights cost $275 total with an outbound Delta flight and American return flight.

Compare that to Delta’s round trip cost for the same trip at $372 and American Airlines’ round trip cost at $312. Both were more expensive than cobbling together your own “round trip flight” with two one-way fares. 

You could save 12% to 30%, or $40 to $100, on your average domestic flight by avoiding round trip flights in favor of one-way flights. It sounds like a great way to start and end your vacation! 

8. Browse Flights Incognito 

  • Access cheaper flight prices with anonymous browsing
  • Browse privately, in incognito mode, or with a VPN
  • Confirmed method, but doesn’t always work

The New York Times and Thrifty Nomads have confirmed that browsing flights privately (i.e., anonymously without cookies or location-revealing data) can sometimes unlock the cheapest flight prices for you. 

If you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), private browser, or open an incognito window to browse flight prices anonymously, you’ll benefit by getting cheaper airfare. 

That’s because cookies show flight booking websites that you’ve been visiting the page a lot – and are obviously interested in booking a flight. Over time, that can result in you seeing more expensive airfare prices. 

By browsing privately, you take away the site’s ability to identify you as a “serial browser” who’s clearly interested in booking this flight. Instead, you get to see the cheapest rates that are typically reserved for first-time browsers.

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So, Did You Learn How to Find Cheap Flights?

You wondered how to find cheap flights and we shared 8 tried-and-true hacks that can save you almost 50% off the cost of your airfare. These tips and hacks are great, but only if you remember to use them! 

Let’s recap what we covered so you can keep this info fresh and top of mind. 

  • The day and time you book and fly matters. To score the best deals, book your flights at around 5AM on a Sunday, fly out on an early 5-8AM flight on a Wednesday/Thursday, and try to return home midweek. 
  • Stop prioritizing nonstop flights, which cost about 20% more than flights with layovers and stops. Layovers reduce the overall ticket price, and the longer your layover, the more you’ll save. 
  • Be open to departing from or arriving to smaller, nearby airports to access lower flight prices. This is where you can save almost 50%! 
  • Use a website like to sign up for price alerts set to your nearest airports and your preferred destinations. You’ll be able to pounce when the price is right. 
  • Skip round trip flights in favor of booking separate one-way flights with different, competing airports (like Delta and United). You can save $40 to $100+ this way. 
  • Finally, do your flight browsing using a VPN, a private browsing window, or incognito mode. This prevents cookies from tracking your visits to the site, which can result in you seeing higher and higher flight prices. 

Overall, you could save 50% or more on your flight when you use the methods here. Learning how to find cheap flights puts the power back in your hands and helps you save up cash for even more exciting things!