Getting a good deal on airfare has never been easier. With so many websites out there finding insane, it’s not uncommon to hear of a friend that booked a flight for a price that seems too good to be true. What most people don’t realize is that these deals usually come with conditions. In some cases, it’s a pricing error from the airline which they may or may not honour, or more commonly it’s a long flight which might require a stopover.

There’s no arguing the prices can be killer, and it’s actually easy to find cheap flights if you know how to use certain websites. But, there are so many articles floating around talking about ideal times to book, or “hacking” websites to give you lower prices when those tricks don’t work. Here are some tips on how to get cheap flights that people need to forget.

There aren't many tricks to getting cheap flights

There is a specific hour to book your flights

I honestly have no idea where this came from. The time of day has zero relevance on airfares. You can stay up til 3am when there’s a full moon out, but the prices won’t be any different. I suspect this myth came from a flight website that looked at the data from thousands of tickets to come up with the perfect time. I suppose that data may be true, but that doesn’t mean there’s an exact time where you can book flights for cheap.

Book on a certain day of the week

The same thing applies to the day of the week, airfares don’t get loaded on certain days, and they certainly aren’t cheaper if you book them on a specific day at a certain time. That being said, flights are cheaper if you fly out a Monday and return mid-week.

Clearing cookies will reduce fares

Whenever you browse a website, small amounts of information called cookies are stored which records your browsing history. The assumption is that since the airlines will know that you’ve been looking for certain flights, there’s no reason to offer you a lower price. Clearing your cookies will make you look like a new browser so the lowest price will be offered right? Nope, airlines price their tickets based on supply and demand, they have enough data of their own and they price accordingly.

Booking from another country is cheaper

To be fair, on occasion lower fares can be found if you choose a different country of origin. e.g. you say you’re in Argentina as opposed to your home country when looking for flights in South America. The theory is airlines price by region so deals can be had. This used to be one of those tricks to getting cheap flights that worked, but now it almost never happens unless you’re searching for flights within a developing country.

Standby deals

These may have existed many years ago, but no airline offers standby deals anymore. It doesn’t matter if you don’t care where the flight is going, or how long it’ll take, you can’t just show up at the airport expecting some kind of deal. That said, if you know a flight attendant, there is standby available to staff.

Flying standby no longer works

Last minute deals

If you’re looking for a last minute deal on airfare, I’ve got some bad news for you, you’re more likely to pay more, much more when booking at the last minute. Last minute deals do happen for all inclusive resorts and tour operators so not all is lost. Companies such as G Adventures, Intrepid Travel and Air Canada Vacations have websites dedicated to their deals so it’s always worth browsing.

You should books exactly X days before your flight

A few years ago, KAYAK released their Travel Hacker Guide with their suggestions of when the best time to buy your airfare is. I quite like KAYAK and I’m sure their mass amounts of data are worth considering, but really, it’s not an exact science. They’re basing their findings off their aggregate data, it’s not like airlines decide when the cheapest time to book airfare is. If you see an airfare that’s reasonable, just book it.

You can get on a flight during its stopover

Some of the best flight deals out there usually require a stopover e.g. Boston → Toronto → Hong Kong. Well, what happens if you live in Toronto and want to take advantage of the deal? Can you buy the ticket and simply get on the plane in Toronto? Nope, you must get on the plane at the originating destination or your ticket automatically becomes void. Some people think this is an unfair practice by the airlines, it’s not, so stop trying to beat the system.

Bereavement fares

I’m sorry for your loss, I really am, but you know who doesn’t care? Airlines. Bereavement fares don’t really exist anymore. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a recent death in the family, generally speaking, airlines will only you a 5% discount at max. The only other thing that airlines “might” offer you is the ability to change your dates at no extra charge. Getting a refund would likely be difficult too.

5-star resort, all inclusive, free for children and under $1,000

There are a ton of travel groups, websites, and forums where people share travel deals they’ve found. These deals are great, but some people are under the impression that a deal can be found for anything– this simply isn’t true. Finding a deal for your exact dates for a specific property will never happen.

Final word

I hate to say it, but there’s really not that many tricks to getting cheap flights. My best suggestion is to monitor those websites that find cheap airfares and to book as soon as you see a deal since they won’t last long. You also need to be flexible, you’ll never know where the flight deal will take your or what dates are available. Alternatively, you could sign up for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada which can help you offset your costs.