Last time in my quest to help you find cheap flights I went over the basics of how to use Skyscanner, a flight comparison tool. But if you just use it like that, you’re going against the key rule in my more general tips on how to find cheap flights: be flexible! This time I’m going to get into the nitty gritty on features like:
- ‘Cheapest month’ for the best dates to fly
- ‘Fly everywhere’ to explore a multitude of options
- ‘Multi-stop’ to turn your long haul stopover into a few days holiday in its own right
You know WHERE you want to go. But you’re not tied down too much to specific dates. Enter your flight details as normal, but when you select your dates click “entire month” in the top right corner. Then there’s two ways you can go about this, depending on just how flexible you are. If you have a particular month or two in mind (e.g. school summer holidays), choose one of those months. If you can fly at any time, or just want to see what options there are, click “cheapest month” at the top. Now press search, and suddenly you can see prices for most if not all of the dates in that month. I prefer the Chart view (not available on mobile) for the easiest display of which dates to try.
Say you want to fly London to New York direct for a week in the summer holidays. Before, you might have just decided to go Saturday to Saturday in the first week of August, 5th-12th. Looking today, that’s £545. But just a short play around with the dates can find you Saturday 19th-26th August for only £344. That’s a saving of over £200 for only five minutes work!
But you can go even better if you click cheapest month – Skyscanner will automatically take you to the month with the cheapest flights. You can also open up the calendar dropdown yourself to pick a month based on the prices displayed. Don’t be afraid to try out the end of month and the start of another.
Now we’re in January 2018. Fly Tuesday 9th to Friday 12th and you can find yourself in New York for an incredible £274. That’s £271 less than if you’d just picked your dates in August at random – you can take someone else with you if you want! If you want to go for a full week, it’s still only £304.
Caveat: Do be aware that these prices are cached from previous searches – sometimes when you click through and it does up to date refreshes from all airlines, the best prices may have already been taken or will vary slightly.
Sometimes you’re even earlier than that stage though – you want a holiday, you know a month, but you don’t know where to go. Head back to the main search bar and enter your departure airport. Pick a particular month, or cheapest month if you’re really flexible – then in the destination box type ‘Everywhere’.
I’ve entered my local big airport and September 2017 – a late summer getaway. Top of the list is Ireland for only £38. Click on any of the locations and you can see the cities you’re flying to. But scroll further down the list and things get more interesting. Just a few of the good options I found:
- Tel Aviv, Israel for £225
- Nairobi, Kenya for £287
- Mumbai, India for £296
Those are some really decent long haul locations, all for less than £300. Let’s try again, this time with direct flights from London, and for the best of the bunch combining with ‘cheapest month’.
- Milan, Italy for £17
- Fes, Morocco for £38
- Reykjavik, Iceland for £56
- Boston, USA for £238
- Cancun, Mexico for £319
- Beijing, China for £331
You can also use a similar feature to search for an entire country at a time – try putting in the whole UK as your departure airport to find out the cheapest place to fly from, and vice versa for your destination country. Run a search now and see what you find!
You’ve decided on your long haul location, found your cheap flights and resigned yourself to an awkward stopover en route. With only a few hours to spare you can’t really leave the airport – but sometimes there’s a way to extend that. It doesn’t always work, but worth a try – I’m spending a couple of days in Bangkok for only £20 extra in April en route to New Zealand. And when I tried the same with a stopover in Amsterdam on the way to Kuala Lumpur, I saved £50!
First, make a note of your dates and departure/arrival airports, as well as your stopover location. Then above the flight information, click ‘Multi-city’. Decide whether you would prefer the stopover at the start of end of your holiday – I normally choose based on the timezone and when I am least likely to be jetlagged, as you’ll only have a short time in this location and will want to make the most of it.
Click ‘Add another flight’ at the bottom so you have three rows. If you want to stopover on the way out, enter your details like this:
Home airport – Stopover airport – Fly out date
Stopover airport – Main destination airport – Fly out date, plus a couple of days
Main destination airport – Home airport – Fly back date
Run the search and see what comes back – make a note of anything promising, then start fiddling with the dates to see if you can find anything better. Move them forwards and back, change the amount of time you’re spending in the stopover destination, but keep it based on the original dates you found.
As an example, I’ve found some flights from London to Manila in the Phillipines for £398, going via Dubai. Flying out on Tuesday 9th May, flying back on Sunday 21st May.
After spending about ten minutes trying dates, I found the best combination which is shown above – two days in Dubai then twelve days in Manila, for £411 – just £14 more than what I found to start with.
I hope this guide has been useful in showing you some tips on how to find cheap flights. You really can save hundreds by following the above, plus you’ll discover destinations you’d never have even thought of before. If you have any questions about the above, or extra tips, just comment below – and if it’s helped you please share to spread the word. Happy hunting!