Jenn Crothers | Contributing Writer | Saturday, 21 November 2015

How To Find Cheap Flights Like An Absolutely Champion

How To Find Cheap Flights Like An Absolutely Champion

The Debrief: Tips on how to beat those dastardly travel websites and bag yourself the cheapest flights so you've got more money to spend on booze

Sneakily searching for your next travelling adventure in an attempt to get through your hangover? Then read on. 

You've probably heard of Skyscanner (if not, what’s wrong with you?/ where have you been?), it’s basically crack for those who love to travel. One of the most fun things you can do is search, ‘(your nearest airport)’ to ‘Everywhere’, which brings up a list of the cheapest flights to anywhere in the world (this once resulted in a weekend in Munich for £40). In fact, I've taken to randomly cruising for cheap flights when I have no intention whatsoever of going away. But that's normal, right? 

Cheap flight hacks 

On top of using Skyscanner to snap up a bargain, I've discovered that there are a few other tricks you can employ, such as looking for flights on a Tuesday (this is when new seats are released by airlines), booking around 45 days in advance, and avoiding buying anything at the weekend (peak times). Similar to train tickets, if you can be flexible, you’ll always save some money.

As much as Skyscanner does give you enticingly cheap deals, over the years I have noticed (especially with long-haul) that flights do creep up in price as you go through the process of buying them, as Amy, an STA travel agent explains.  ‘Athough it [Skyscanner] provides really cheap flights, most of the time it doesn't show the full price straight away, and there are sometimes hidden extra costs.’ So you need to be prepared to spend a little more than the quote given initially.

There's also another hack to keep in mind. A few weeks back, I was looking at flights to Peru (obvs)  and found a return ticket for £480 - considering the average return flight price for that time of year was around £700, I was pretty chuffed. But, when I did the same search (same dates etc.) a few hours later, they had suddenly shot up to £520.

Naturally, I started to panic- where had my bargain flights gone? I remember reading something online about flight prices fluctuating daily, so I gave it the 24hr test. When I looked again the next day, they were over £600! As I sat there, my Machu Picchu selfie dreams crashing around me, my tech-savvy co-worker explained how flight websites use cookies to monitor their flight prices - as in the digital storage, rather than a packet of Marylands.

Most websites use them, and will ask you to declare your cookie-consent, before letting you use their services. It’s their way of saying, ‘we’re going to stalk you, but is that like, cool?’ And they’re not always a bad thing- they record your behaviour online so they give you more accurate search results, or alert you to new offers on products you’ve been interested in.

But, once companies like Skyscanner  know what flights you’re after, they pass this information on to their airline partners. These sites them bump up their prices every time you visit, in order to make you think, ‘Shit! I need to book NOW.’ I once bought flights to Ireland for £160, when normally it costs around £45. But there is away around this - you just need to clear your cache. This is the place where the cookies are stored (think of it like an evil biscuit tin.) Here is s simple step-by-step, using Safari for Mac (I would suggest having a cheeky Goog if you use a different browser/ PC):

How to clear your cache 

1. In the Safari menu bar, click the Safari option.
2. Select the Preferences link.
3. In the Preferences window, click the ‘Advanced’ tab.
4. At the bottom of the window, select the Show Develop menu in menu bar checkbox.
5. Return to the Safari menu bar and click the Develop option.
6. Select the Empty Caches link.
7. Wait a few hours, et voila!

Essentially what you’ve done is, you’ve deleted your computer’s memory of you ever having visited the site. Kind of like being able to go back and delete all of your embarrassing drunk moments, so everyone thinks you are totally sane.

I love Skyscanner - as I've already said, I use it all the time and it's one of the most reliable and user-friendly comparison websites around (IMHO, this isn't sponsored by Skyscanner, FYI). But being a little more tech savvy could literally save you hundreds of pounds. You are welcome 

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

How To Explore Madrid On The Cheap

Can’t Afford Paris? Head To Its Cooler Little Sister Marseilles Instead

How to Travel The World For Free

Follow Jenn on Twitter @Crothh

Picture: Getty

Tags: Leaving on a jet plane, Travel