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It happens at least twice a year.
When the time comes, whether in Summer or for New Year’s Eve, family members, colleagues and friends who have to plan their holidays ask me the same question: “How can I find a good flight for…?” you can fill the blank with whatever destination may appeal to you.
Now, I am not a travel agent, nor a money saver guru of some sort. What I usually do, though, is sharing my way to find the best available flight according to my needs, which doesn’t mean necessarily the cheapest, more like the most affordable I can find based on my preferences and my budget. And, in my experience, one of the best tools is Momondo, if properly used.
For those of you who never heard about it, Momondo is a website that allows you to buy flights and book hotels. They also share tips and suggestions about destinations all around the world, based on the mood of the trip you are interested in.
So far, I never visited Momondo for hotel rooms, as in my opinion the section still needs some improvement. However, as far as flights are concerned, they have an efficient search engine with many cool filters to choose from, and a couple of extra tools that are very interesting (more on that later).
The first thing I do on Momondo’s website is selecting my language from the bottom of the page. I normally use the Italian version, but for the purpose of this little guide I’ll visit the British version.
Tip #1: It may be obvious, but the best way I know to score a good price is buying a flight quite in advance. According to several experts, the best time is between a minimum of 3 weeks to a maximum of 3 months. Bear in mind, though, that searching too much ahead could be useless: airlines, in fact, can generally show flights up to 8/10 months in advance only .
The first remarkable tool is right in front of me, on the top of the page. A chart shows me the fluctuation of the prices on the days preceding and following the dates I chose, which allows me to decide whether to change them or not. Of course, there is no guarantee that I will find a cheaper flight if I change my dates, but it’s an useful indication and, on a few instances, it proved to be providential.
In my case, I am happy with the dates I have, hence I can move on to set the other filters. I select Max 1 Stop from the list on the left, because in my example London is quite close to Rome and I have no intention to waste my time touring for airports for such a short trip. Of course, when the distance is greater, sometimes it’s inevitable.
Some of the most important filters, for me, are the Time Of The Day (both Outbound and Return). I think it’s pointless to score a good price for a flight if my arrival time is in the middle of night, when all I can do is going to sleep. It means I will pay for an extra night in my hotel/apartment, which will nullify the fact that I saved some money by booking that uncomfortable flight in the first place. Besides, I want to spend as much time as possible in my desired destination. Hence, I always set the Time Of The Day filters so as to see flights that will depart in the early afternoon by the latest on the day of my arrival, and that will leave at least beyond lunchtime when I return home.
Scrolling down the page I see the Origin and Destination Airport. In my case, as I don’t want to land to airports that are too far from London, I uncheck the Luton and Stansted airports so that Momondo, as a result, shows me only flights arriving in London City, Gatwick and Heathrow airports.
Now I can check the actual flights and their prices. I skip all those flights showing a red +1 symbol, because it means it will take an extra day to arrive wherever I need too. The reason is the same as in step #5: unless I actually want to visit the place the flight makes an overnight stop-over at, I’m not interested in spending an extra night –and, subsequently, waste my time and my money- just to sleep. The same goes for all the flights that could forced me to change airport in the same city.
Fortunately, I found a good deal for my trip to London: I like this amazing flight schedule operated by EasyJet at £ 73. If I am not ready to buy this flight yet, I can always click on that little heart on the top right and save it for later.
Tip #2: You can register to Momondo and save all the flights you want. Sometimes I do that, too. However, beware: when you search for the same flight over and over –regardless of the website you’re using- the browser cookies track your search with subsequent increase of the price, because it will look like that flight is on high demand. I experienced this issue myself, although most airlines and travel websites swear the search history does NOT affect prices. In any case, if you need to repeat your searches, I suggest you to clear your history or visit these sites anonymously.
It is not my case, but let’s pretend for a moment I have yet to find a flight I am pleased with. This is when another, great tool comes into play. Right below the prices chart I click on the blue Timetable tab. Momondo will now show me all the outbound and homebound flights, and I can decide whether to sort them by departure or by arrival time, duration of the flight or price per person.
I choose the latter. Now I can select the outbound and homebound flights I like the most separately. This is especially useful when you need to build a ticket without being forced to fly with same airline for both trips.
Again, in my example is not necessary, therefore I click again on the Tickets tab and then on the Go to site button under the chosen flight. I will now be transferred to the site where I can proceed with the purchase of the ticket… and it’s done!
And you? What is your favourite way to find a good deal for flights?