How to find cheap flights is one of the most common questions I get asked. I wrote an entire guide about it in my cost of travel series, yet it’s still a topic that people constantly discuss. I get it, when it comes to travelling, airfare is one of your biggest expenses so people are naturally looking to save.
If you don’t want to do any work, you could follow one of those deal websites that search for cheap airfare and wait to get an email alert, but in my opinion, that actually limits you. Finding cheap airfare is surprisingly easy and all you really need to use is the KAYAK Explorer tool.
Using the KAYAK Explorer tool to find cheap flights
The reason I use the KAYAK Explorer tool is that I like its flexibility and reliability. Generally speaking, the tool shows you the prices of all searched flights in the last 48 hours. It’s not always 100% accurate and sometimes obvious mistakes are generated by KAYAK, but most of the time confirmed prices tend to be close to what’s listed.
Here’s a screenshot (and a link) of what a typical search looks like for me.
Toronto (YYZ) is my departure airport and I personally like to keep my dates set at anytime and any duration just to see what “deals” are out there. The KAYAK Explorer tool allows you to choose your dates by season, month, and even by holidays. You can also set your duration based on days, a weekend, weeks, or even say Saturday to Saturday.
You likely also noticed that I have my budget set at $1,025. That’s quite high for some people so let’s lower it and see what results we get.
By dropping my price down to $505, there are still quite a few deals to be found within North America and Europe. Heck, it appears that I can even fly down to Colombia for less than $500 which is incredible.
Verifying deals with KAYAK
Again, the prices shown aren’t usually 100% accurate. Think of them more like a guideline which you need to verify on your own. I’m going to go back to my initial search budget of $1,025, but this time, I’m going to select nonstop flights only.
My updated search is showing direct flights to Beijing for $643 CAD. I know this is an incredible deal since flights to China are normally $900 – $1,200. Since my search is quite broad, I need to verify the flight and dates by clicking Find Flights on the right.
As you can see from above, the updated prices for a nonstop flight from Toronto to Beijing is as low as $772. It’s $129 more than what my initial search showed, but it’s still quite cheap compared to what the average prices are.
You’ll also notice that KAYAK has also generated the cheapest dates with the flight departing on November 4th and returning on November 18th. I could likely play with the dates to see what else is available for the same price, but for the purpose of this post, I’m not going to.
Now, you still need to book the flight so click view deal to make your final booking.
The deal that KAYAK found me was through CheapOair and after clicking through, I was able to verify the final price was $771.25. You’re probably wondering why I was referred to CheapOair? Well, that’s because KAYAK doesn’t actually sell airfare directly. They’re a metasearch engine and they basically crawl all the various airlines and online travel agencies to find you the best deal. If the lowest price available was from Expedia or Air Canada, they would have referred me directly to them.
With these flight deals you sort of need to search on a daily basis so you start to get a rough idea of what average prices are and what deals are. Every so often, you’ll come across a mistake fare which is obviously an error. If that flight happens to appeal to you, book it right away! Most airlines will usually honour that mistake, but don’t book any non-refundable hotels until your ticket is issued.
Finding cheap flights really isn’t that difficult, you just need to use KAYAK’s tools to your advantage and be flexible. Remember, once you’ve created your search preferences, KAYAK generates a custom URL so it’ll only take you a few minutes a day to see what deals are out there. Now check out my article on the best credit cards in Canada to find out how to travel for free on points.