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Hack: Best website EVER to look for cheap flights

(Hint: It’s not AirAsia.com)

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I am a budget-conscious traveler. If you are under 35 and grew up under AirAsia’s promise of ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’, chances are you are a budget-conscious traveler, too.

I admit that sometimes I feel entitled and expect to get cheap flights. In my defense, AirAsia spoiled me. Constant offers through various media channels made me believe that I deserve that RM9 cheap flight ticket.

But as much as I love AirAsia (big fan!), today I am going to give you my ultimate hack in getting cheap flight tickets. It may include AirAsia, it may not, but you will get the best possible price for cheap flights.

When you want to travel, you will need to decide these three things:

  • Location
  • Date
  • Duration (of trip)

Budget travelers usually take flight prices into consideration. At some level, it might even affect your travel decision. For example, you might decide to leave one day earlier in order to shave RM150 off the price of your flight tickets.

There’s a lot of websites that can help you compare prices of flight tickets. AirAsia, for example, can easily show you how much flights cost on another day. But of course you are excluded from other airlines. With other websites like Skycanner, you can only check a country at a time.

What if you can check all options in one website, for the ultimate cheap flights comparison?

The hack to get cheap flights

It’s called Google Flights.

If you click on the page, you’ll come to a very standard page. Where do you fly from? Where to? Departure date? Return date?

But do me a favor – click on ‘Explore Map’. It’s in the red circle.

screenshot-www google com 2016-01-04 03-13-04

This is a mere snippet of what you may see:

screenshot-www google com 2016-01-04 03-18-19

My map is zoomed way out, but look – you can see the flight prices to go to different cities in the map itself! I used random dates for this example. You can see that it costs USD198 to go to Tokyo, USD140 to Hong Kong, USD 65 to Jakarta, etc.

All the red dots represent airports, so if you zoom in more, you can see prices of local flights, too.

Let’s say I am interested to visit Tokyo, Japan. I want to see if USD198 is a good price for my dates (20-24 January 2016). I click on ‘Tokyo’. This is what I get:

screenshot-www google com 2016-01-04 03-26-14

Look! USD198 is indeed the best price for the dates chosen! More information about the flight is in the red circle. In this case, Vietnam Air is the service provider. The flight has an 11-hours layover at the Hanoi airport. If I am a hardcore budget traveler, this wouldn’t be much of a problem. If I wanted something faster on these specific dates, I can select other options.

Cool? Here’s where it gets cooler. What if you want to compare the prices for different departure dates? You click on your departure/return dates. It will show you three options. The first is Calendar.

screenshot-www google com 2016-01-04 03-27-19

As you can see, USD198 is still the cheapest option for KUL-NAR.

Even cooler: the middle button – Flexible dates. Here you can easily click on a super user-friendly matrix. You can easily see how much it costs if you take different departure/return dates.

screenshot-www google com 2016-01-04 03-27-56

It’s interesting – you can see that in this case, Mondays are bad days to depart and Wednesdays/ Thursdays are bad days to return.

A same-day depart/return flight costs a whopping USD673 0.0

You can scroll the dates backwards/forward, too. I personally like longer stays – I might select 17-26 Jan 2016 because it costs the same as 20-24 Jan 2016.

The last button shows the price graph. Here you will see a bigger picture of the flight prices. Useful to just confirm what you already know – this particular flight is a freaking deal.

screenshot-www google com 2016-01-04 03-29-09

And that’s how you know you got the best price for your destination 🙂

Don’t know where to go? It’s also fun to let Google suggest you a location by clicking ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ (circled). Let’s try it out.

I got New York. It costs USD954 via Korean Air. Not bad.

screenshot-www google com 2016-01-04 03-48-42

Just for fun, let’s see if we can get a better price to New York.

Jackpot! See the red circle – Google gave a tip for an even cheaper flight! It now costs USD663, if I make the trip earlier by a day!

screenshot-www google com 2016-01-04 03-49-58

I just saved about a third off this flight. Super easy.

Try it out. It’s one of my favorite travel hacks ever. Do you find it useful? Know an even better hack to get cheap flights? Share in the comments!

If this article helped you, share it okay 🙂

Author

2 comments

  1. Hi Suraya,

    You always share the crème de la crème and budget traveling is the best way to see the world =)
    May I ask, taking the Vietnam Air as an example, am I entitled for any free lodging+meals since it is a 11-hours stop-over at the Hanoi airport? Think I read somewhere that passengers are entitled to it if reconnecting flights are longer than certain hours.

    thanks for the wonderful write-ups. Keep sharing. Adios!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Karan!

      I think, as a general rule, most airports and airlines don’t owe you anything for long stopovers. That’s why some people get credit cards with travel benefits; some airports have premier lounges they can use. If the delay is the airlines fault, over a certain no of hours they might give a bit of compensation. Some travel insurance compensate for delays as well. If you don’t have these credit cards or insurance, it’ll be your own cost.

      Airports like Singapore does give free city tours for people with long stopovers, so some people plan based on that as well.

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