How and where to find cheap flights

Caroline Cassidy

Most of us have had to tighten our belts in the past couple of years and a holiday abroad might seem like a distant dream. But there are always bargains to be had - here are some tips on where and how to fly cheaply or even for free.

How to find cheap flights
How to find cheap flights

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Price comparison

If you know when and where you are travelling to and from, the obvious first option is to use a price comparison site to check scheduled flights. Both and offer excellent price checking services though the latter may offer more choice.

While standalone flights may seem like the cheapest option, it is often the case that package deals work out more cost-effective thanks to charter flights and, since the majority of package operators are protected should they go out of business, it means you are too. As ever, always check first.

It is also worth checking sites such as and Opodo as there may be extra discounts to be had if you book a hotel at the same time.

Inside information

Those who are willing to delve a little deeper online can often find some hidden, low-priced gems., for instance offer some serious bargains with their 'secret flights'. Simply enter your chosen dates and see what comes up - the only downside is the information provided covers only departure and arrival city, flight length and any possible stopovers.

Booking late doesn't always mean bargain prices as airlines often hike ticket prices to take advantage of must-fly business people. However, many airlines offer cheap seats on a limited basis and there may not be any need to jump in and book straight away. To find out how many of the bargain deals remain, begin booking more than you need - if there's a sudden increase for taking three or four seats, grab it while you can.

Flight sales and freebies

Budget airlines such as Ryanair are well known for their "flight sales" in which return fares can cost as little as 1p. Even though taxes and charges may be added, such as luggage and check-in, the overall cost can still be low.

Airlines also try to tempt customers to apply for their own credit cards and, while it might seem like a money-making scam by operators, it can be handy to check the opening offers. Many offer free flights as an incentive whereby new customers must spend a certain amount in order to claim.

In some cases though, the threshold is very low so if you can use the card to buy some essential you are already planning on shelling out for, it just might be worth getting that application in. Just be sure to pay off the balance as soon as you can.

Happy bargain hunting!