Flying to America: Tips for finding cheaper flights
Author: Annika Ziehen
roadsurfer has arrived in the USA which means it’s time for you to plan a road trip in California. But first, you’ll have to get on a plane before you can pick up your camper in LA.
Find out how you can great deals on flights to America below. With our tips and tricks for cheaper flights, you’re guaranteed to have enough left in your budget for s’mores by the campfire!
When is the best time to book & fly?
For international flights, it’s best to book 2 to 8 months in advance. If you want to fly during the holiday season or around the holidays, it’s even better to book a little earlier. For regional flights, book 1 to 3 months before departure.
Airfares are now adjusted to demand around the clock, so sadly there is really no perfect time to get a bargain. However, experience shows that flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays are cheaper, and flights on Fridays and Saturdays are particularly expensive.
Flights from Europe to America have peak prices from mid-June to mid-August and between Christmas and New Year. However, this should not stop you from looking for flights. There are often good deals for those who don’t mind flying directly on Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Before you set your dates, you should also check the public holidays in the US. The 4th of July and Thanksgiving are celebrated in a big way, therefore, the demand for flights is very high around this time and consequently, airfares go up.
The more flexible you are with your travel dates, the better your chances of getting a cheap flight. This applies to the date as well as the time of travel. Flights that depart or land in the middle of the night are often cheaper than those that depart at more “convenient” times.
Are there cheap last-minute flights?
Cheap last-minute flights are unfortunately a thing of the past. Nowadays, flights just get more and more expensive the closer you get to the day of departure. Why is that? Airlines have found that many business travellers need to book last-minute and then don’t care about the price. Bad news for you if you’re flying to your holiday destination, though the concept mostly applies to regional and not international flights.
If you don’t have the opportunity to book months in advance, you can still find a good price up to 6 weeks before departure. Don’t wait any longer than that, though, as ticket prices start to skyrocket!
How & where can I find cheap flights?
Searching incognito online when looking for a flight and regularly clear your cookies – this is a very popular rumour. But experts now say that this does not affect the indicated flight prices or makes them more expensive. Here’s what you can do instead to find the cheapest flights:
✈ Stay Flexible!
Flexibility is our top tip, not only in terms of travel dates but also in terms of departure and destination airports. If you’re coming from London, you should also check flights from Birmingham or even Manchester, and look for flights to San Diego instead of Los Angeles.
This works well with Google Flights, where you can enter several airports as search criteria.
Once you have found your overseas flight, you can then simply look for a cheaper flight with a budget airline in the USA to get to LA.
✈ Avoid Direct Flights
As comfortable as they are, direct flights are always the more expensive option. If you want to save money, don’t let a stopover hold you back. Kiwi.com is a great place to look for cheaper options by mixing and matching flights operated by different airlines. However, when booking, make sure you allow enough time at the stopover to collect your luggage and check it back in.
✈ Collect Miles
Collecting miles is a huge bonus! It can make sense to be loyal to an airline or an airline alliance (such as Star Alliance), but then you are also bound to the flights and fares of the respective airline.
A smarter idea is frequent flyer programmes from American Express or Miles & More Mastercard Gold. For every euro you pay with your card, you are credited with miles that you can later invest in flights or hotels.
✈ Booking on Your Own
Even if you are flying with others, it can be cheaper to search for tickets individually. Why is that? Airlines often only have a certain contingent of seats at a particularly low price. However, if there are not enough tickets left at this price for your requested group booking, it will not even be displayed. Each traveller should rather check and book individually, and split the difference if someone gets a bargain.
✈ Read the Small Print
When saving money, you should always read the small print so that you don’t save in the wrong place. Check beforehand what is included in your chosen fare and consider what is really important to you. Do you need one piece of luggage or two? Do you want to be able to choose your seat and do you really need a hot meal on the plane? Many of these offers are now charged as extras, so you should check in advance what the conditions are and what you really need.
✈ There & Back
Did you know that flights are actually always cheaper if you book a return flight? It’s best to take a flight that has flexible booking conditions if your return date hasn’t been set yet because it’s definitely cheaper than booking two separate routes.
✈ Price Alarm
With many search engines such as Kayak or Google Flights, you now have the option of setting an “alarm” that informs you when prices drop. You enter when you want to fly and where, and are then informed by e-mail when it becomes cheaper than originally indicated.
✈ Error Fares
Error fares are like the holy grail of flight search – very rarely seen and everyone wants them. What is an error fare? Quite simply put – an error in the price of airline tickets. An error fare can be caused by a technical or human error and most of the time you can save big time! It’s best to register on sites that share error fares with their readers because it’s pure luck to find such a price error. Once you have found one, be quick and grab it – you should not hesitate for long with an error fare because the airline can notice and correct its mistake at any time.