Finding Flights Without Points

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Flights at Madurai airport

Even with all the manufactured spending methods available, it’s likely you will still have to pay for one or two flights at some point in time. Whether you are booking a flight for a friend who doesn’t collect points/miles, you have an emergency flight that does not have any award tickets available, or you’re paying for a flight that is not worth the points, it’s important to have a backup plan.

Recently, I ran into a situation where I needed to find a flight for a family member who did not have points or miles to use. That’s why I put this post together. Here are a few of my favorite flight finding methods:

Google Flights
I’m a big fan of Google Flights. It is a mixture of ITA Matrix and Google, which is a great combination. Every time I’ve compared Google Flights prices with other website prices, it has always been the same or cheaper. I did not do a study on this, by any means, but from my experience Google Flights is the first and last place I end up going when booking a flight.

What I like about it:

  • It’s quick – It’s Google, so you should expect this.
  • You can Google search your flight. For example, if you search “dtw to lax june 17”, Google brings up all the flight options from Detroit to Los Angeles on June 17.
  • Great pricing – Like I mentioned above, whenever I am looking for a flight Google Flights always seems to be tied for the lowest price or has the lowest price.
  • No spammy ads or multiple windows. Sites like Orbitz and Travelocity have tons of ads and pop-up windows when you try searching for flights. Google doesn’t do this, thankfully.

Kayak
Kayak is usually my second site to check when it comes to flights. I like how they compare other travel sites with their own, but I hate the pop-ups. They also have a pretty neat feature called “Price Trend”, which looks at the previous fare prices and tells you whether they think booking the flight at that price is a good idea. That feature is based on an algorithm and market trends, not on inside knowledge. So, there is no guarantee that it is 100% accurate, but it never hurts to get their input.

What I like about it:

  • The price trend feature is one of my favorite features of any flight booking website. That is primarily why I use this site.

Priceline
Priceline is good for one thing: name your own price. I hate all their pop-ups and ads, so I only use them as a last resort. If I am looking for a specific flight that hasn’t gone down in price in a weeks time, I will try to name my own price and see what I can get. Only once has this method gotten me a cheaper flight. When you name your own price, completely low ball them (i.e. $100 for a $1,000 flight). That way they will send you their lowest price and you won’t be locked into the purchase.

What I like about it:

  • The name your price feature. That’s about it.

Tips

  • If you have some time to book, use Airfarewatchdog.com. They have real people monitor flight deals and alert you when they found a great price for the flight of your choice.
  • Churn credit cards, MS, and join all the frequent flyer programs you can. That way you maximize your cost per ticket!
  • A study done by Farecompare.com says the best time to book a flight is Tuesday at 3:00pm Eastern. I’m not sure how much weight this study holds, but it never hurts to try.
  • Again, Farecompare.com also said the best day to fly is on Wednesday. This is convenient if you’re flexible, but sometimes that’s not an option.
  • Book in advance. Six weeks in advance is usually the best time to book. Otherwise, if you are very flexible, last-minute flights can be quite affordable.

Do you have any go-to flight booking websites?


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