How to Get Cheap Flights to Europe and Anywhere Else

There’s some truth to the famed airline myth that savings come with restrictions, discomfort and stopovers, but only not everything. You can get reduced prices on tickets on reputable airlines with direct flights as well.

If you’re not tied to one particular destination, you should check prices on flights to the cheapest gateways in Europe. Start with London, Amsterdam and Paris, then try Rome, Milan, Madrid and Frankfurt. Trying to begin your journey with a flight into say, the Swiss Alps, isn’t going to do much more than make your travel agent light up with dollar signs. If prices are relatively equal, book with well-informed travel agent and get their email address and phone number. The can point out things you never thought of (e.g. a flight that leaves at 6am, before there’s any cheap transport running to the airport) and provide access to consolidator fares. Besides, it’s nice to have someone to contact in case you’re in a jam.

But before you call an agent, do a little online checking on your own, so you’ll know know a good price when you see one. Start looking on the major online booking engines and check out the lowest published fares for a particular flight. Here are a few tips that will help you keep down your flight costs:

1) Take an hour or two and try combinations of dates into different cities (Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Milan are good hubs) at one or more of the online booking engines mentioned above. Sometimes, just leaving a day later of flying into a different city can make a difference of EUR125. in this sense, a little flexibility can translate into substantial savings.

2) Often, the cheapest flight tickets are sold far in advance. Call a trusted travel agent and ask him/her to book the cheapest fully refundable flight ticket available. Then keep looking. If you find something cheaper, simply cancel the first ticket

3) For internet bookings, consider purchasing the ticket on a Wednesday (when airlines offer special promotions), not on a weekend (when the prices shoot back up).

4) Once you find a good deal, go directly to that airline’s site to see if they’re offering any other special promotions to places nearby that are even cheaper. Or any frequent-flier bonuses. Strange as it may seem, flights and prices can differ between airlines’ sites and the site where you originally spotted the flight.

5) Keep in mind the cheapest flight tickets are often less direct, less conveniently scheduled and may involve an airline you’ve never even heard of. It you have more time than money, this is a fine way to grab a deal.

6) Don’t let your “frequent-flier” plan get in the way of finding the best and the cheapest airline tickets. First, look for the best deal, then if two or three offer similar fares, pick the one that fits into your mileage plan.

7) If you don’t live in a hub city, look for ads in the mainstream press in the nearest one to you, plus any student newspapers or the free and alternative newspapers in your area. If you find a great price, but you’ve never heard of the company, buy with a credit card so you can stop payment if need be.

8) Consider an open-jaw ticket. These are two-one-way flights sold for half their round trip value, with an overland connection in between that you provide. For example, instead of using two travel days to zip back to London to catch your flight home, you can buy an open-jaw ticket and fly back from, say, Rome. If you know your itinerary, you may be able to save by not backtracking