Top 3 travel sites to find the best flight deals!
Updated: May 19, 2022
Over the past year or more, we have experienced inflation rates that make us feel like our wallet has a hole in it. Things are tight! It’s scary to even look at gas pumps, lumber, meat prices, and milk prices. Paper towels and toilet paper feel like they are the same as when the shelves were bare. That must mean travel and flights are more expensive then, right? Surprisingly, that is not what we are finding, particularly on international travel.
We have been fortunate to find international deals that cost the same or even less than travelling from Atlanta to Kansas City or California. We are also finding international flights that are much cheaper than we found in the past couple years. In 2020, for example, we purchased tickets from Atlanta to Athens, Greece after watching flight prices for a month and a half. The best price we got at the time was $1326 per person. Our trip got cancelled due to COVID of course. We planned on making this our honeymoon trip until we found a deal at the end of February 2022 that we could not resist. We got both tickets for $1365. Yes, BOTH!!! This cost was for main cabin, not basic economy. The lowest deals were $483 per person for a basic fare. The money we saved paid for FIVE nights ($250 a night) of our hotel expenses during our stay in Greece!! The best part, you don’t have to go all out on hotels like we did. There were options for $100 a night that were awesome. Our hotel stay in Athens city centre was only $100 and that included breakfast.
One more quick example: For Spring Break 2022, we planned to go to Costa Rica. We had been researching since September of 2021, and we were so excited to see monkeys, beautiful greenery, the ocean views. We found some excellent hotels. The bad part, when we started watching flights (we normally do this 90-120 days in advance,) the flights were outrageous from Atlanta. We never found the price to be under $800 unless we wanted layovers for 8-10 hours or to fly a budget airline (nothing wrong with that but not fun for long flights in our opinion. Flight times were not ideal. In addition to what we were going to pay for hotels, the entire Greece trip to four islands and two days in Athens was significantly cheaper than seven nights in Costa Rica. In full disclosure, we were going very bougie with our hotel stays in Costa Rica, but Greece was all four and five-star hotels as well. My point is, just because the country may seem super far away, does not mean it is more expensive…something I really didn’t know before.
So, where do we find these flight deals?
There are numerous places to watch for flights of course. There are times we go right through the airlines, especially if we want to fly direct. We generally always start with an aggregator (Orbitz, Expedia, Skyscanner), track flights for a couple of weeks (Google Flights), and then purchase. We also use a site called Scott’s Cheap Flights for low fares that come straight to the inbox each day!
Here are the top three sites we use and a little about why we like them. Click the headings/names for each one to go to the actual site:
Jay loves Skyscanner because it will look at every city from your departure city for the range of dates you select. You can also use flexible dates or specific dates if you have those nailed down. Skyscanner will also suggest the cheapest month to fly. Flights are categorized by best, cheapest, and fastest flight times. You can get ideas for great destinations and then start to research options within your budget.
Skyscanner lets you look at multiple airlines similar to other sites like an Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity. You can search “everywhere” if you want ideas, and you can also search for specific dates or best times to fly. If you want to follow a couple places or even track one destination, Skyscanner has a Price Alert tool.
We use Skyscanner to help us get an idea of flight prices and what airlines may be competitive for the places we are considering and the dates that may be best. From there we go to other sites like Google flights (link below) or directly to the airlines' sites to see if anything stands out or if there are nonstops available.
Tip: We have had some very bad experiences when purchasing through an aggregator. Our troubles so far have been through Momondo and Orbitz. Sadly, when something goes wrong, the wait times are very long, and the service is terrible. It is much easier to work directly with the airline. We have ended up wasting a lot of time and paying a lot of extra money to get to our destination by purchasing through the two mentioned, so just be prepared that if something goes wrong, you are likely in
Click here to learn about the items above directly from Skyscanner. Scroll to the bottom of Skyscanner and on the bottom left, you will see the Explore options. There is a ton of good information here.
We always monitor flight prices by setting up destinations in Google Flights. It will alert you when fares are low. You can almost always book directly with the airline and cut out the middle man. This is especially nice if something goes wrong on your trip. Someday I will share the story of how we were travelling to the Maldives and booked through a middle man. Needless to say, it cost us a lot more time and money to actually get there because we couldn’t work directly with the airline.
Google shows months and months of prices, so you know what the costs will be depending on your specific dates. It really helps to select departure and arrival dates to keep the trip within the budget. Click the “1-week trip in the next 6 months” on the main page and you will get the “Specific dates” and “Flexible dates” to pop up as shown below.
When searching flying from Atlanta to London, you can use Google’s date grid and price graph to find the lowest fares. No need to enter dates. Just leave the dates as they are.
The date grid looks like this:
The cheapest price is highlighted and is $571 if you leave Wed, May 18th and return Tuesday, May 24th.
Set price trackers as well using these icons:
You can also search multiple airports at the same time, which is great if you want to compare all options.
Did I mention we love Google? 😉
A well-traveled coworker notified me about Scott’s Cheap Flights, and I immediately went to check it out. With Scott’s, you can get free flight alerts or you can sign up for additional alerts/options using their Freemium model (pay for additional packages). They do all the work of finding the best deals, how long they are expected to last, as well as airline mistakes where the airline incorrectly priced the fare. All you have to do is enter an email address or better yet continue with Google (you will learn quickly that we love Google!) to get started.
Once you sign up, you will be asked to complete the following:
· Step 1 - Add your airports – select airports you are willing to fly from. Tip: If you know major airport that you can get cheap tickets to from the airport closest to you, also select that airport. For example, we can get pretty cheap tickets to Newark and JFK from Atlanta. We selected those airports as well since it may be cheaper overall with a super deal from Scott’s. Then we would just purchase a ticket to that airport from Atlanta.
· Step 2 – Watch for deals – flights will be sent to your email.
· Step 3 – Book the deal – the deal will show you the airports the deal leaves from, the price, and if it is nonstop. It will also link you to the point of purchase.
We love that fairs are fantastically low. The airlines are generally the more higher rated airlines, and the flights are generally nonstop or one stop flights. If you are an avid traveler or would like to watch additional deals, they do offer Premium and Elite memberships for a fee.
o International economy class deals only– domestic deals are not presented
o Can select to depart from 5 airports
o $49 per year
o 14 day free trial
o Economy deals, domestic economy deals, Weekend Getaways, and Mistake Fares from your home airport
o Can select up to 10 airports
o $199 per year
o You get everything in the Premium packages
o Mistake Fares from all chosen airports
o Mistake Fares from all US airports
o Control on the types of deals sent
o Premium, Business, and First-class deals
We currently do the Premium membership, and best of all, it paid for itself with just our tickets to Greece! We do generally upgrade our seats to have more leg room, and since we do travel a lot, we may move to the Elite at some point, but we really wanted to see if the Premium package was worth it and how many flights we purchased in one year. Why not sign up for the free ones? It doesn’t cost anything to dream, right?
Bonus tip: If you are tall, like exit rows or extra leg room, don’t want to sit next to the bathrooms, or want the worst seats on the plane, definitely go to SeatGuru. SeatGuru allows you to type in your flight number and see comments on the specific seats for your airplane (occasionally you have to select the specific jet if the airline has two options/models for the flight. Simply hover your mouse over the seats you may want to upgrade to or select and you can review the comments. We use this every single time and often times, we will watch specific seats to upgrade to up to the point we are at the boarding gate!!
Don’t let inflation make it feel like travel is out of the picture. Whether you drive to a town you’ve never been in your state, fly across the country, or fly to another country, there are options where you don’t have to spend your life savings. Use the resources out there for you.
Some are pretty sweet.
Jay and Stephanie
Note: These are our opinions only. We are NOT receiving commission of any kind for these thoughts. Information is up to date as of May 6, 2022 and may change.