How To Book Cheap Flights – A Guide to Skyscanner

A lot of people regularly ask me how I always seem to find the cheapest flights to the places I plan on traveling to, so I thought I would write a quick post about one of my favourite booking websites – Skyscanner. 

Looking for tips on surviving a long flight – check out The Savvy Globetrotters Ultimate Guide.

Here is my quick guide on How To Book Cheap Flights using Skyscanner.

Tip 1 – Search regularly

I browse Skyscanner as often as most internet addicts browse Reddit or 9Gag…let’s just say I spend an obscene amount of time on the site and am always ready to grab any cheap deals which interest me. In fact, my addiction to skyscanner and browsing flights to exotic destinations at bizarre times throughout the night recently led me to booking a flight in my sleep! When I woke up in the morning I had an email confirmation from Skyscanner with a booking reference number for a 1 way flight to Thailand! Turns out I must have half woken in the middle of the night and found a flight from Seoul, Korea to Bangkok for less than 100 euro – a bargain, in my sleepy trance, that I simply could not refuse!

Searching for flights on a regular basis would probably be my first tip to those looking for flights – always be on the look-out. Many budget airlines like Air Asia and Ryanair hold last-minute sales that are only available for 48 hours so if you don’t always have one eye on the prize, you will risk missing out.

Tip 2 – Delete those cookies!

Did you know many popular booking websites will increase the price of the flights if they know the specific flights you are looking for. Every time you refresh, you may notice the flight price sky-rocketing. You may think, “Oh Crap – If I had booked 10 minutes ago I would have got that deal” or “Damn, someone booked the flight I wanted and now only the expensive seats are left!”. Wong, wrong, wrong. Often times, the airline knows what you want, knows the days you want to fly and each search you type in is being saved and used against you. Each time you log on to SkyScanner, make sure to delete the cookies on your computer.  I have recently been informed that Skyscanner do not increase the price of flights at all as they have no control over flight price. As a search engine, they simply show the flight and price details from data they pull from airline websites. So it seems deleting your cookies is more relevant when it comes to using an airline website than Skyscanner.

Tip 3 – Carefully consider what day you book

I’m not talking about the day you FLY, I’m talking about the day you actually sit in front of the computer and SEARCH for your flight. Did you know that the cheapest days to book flights are Tuesdays and Thursdays? The airlines release new seats on these days and often there are lots of great bargains to be found. The most expensive time to look for flights is at the weekends because that is when most people have free time and start to plan vacations. Airlines know this and thus hike the price of flights at the weekends. Goodness, they’re a sneaky lot. (Note: this doesn’t ALWAYS apply, see example below, so make sure to play around with your days and dates to find the best option for you).

Screenshot 2016-01-04 at 3.25.14 PM

Tip 4 – Be Flexible

Similar to tip number 3, there are also cheaper days and cheaper dates to fly. Some of these are obvious such as flying on September 11th, Christmas Day or New Years Eve, three days that most people in the Western world really, really, REALLY don’t want to travel on. That being said, a recent look at Skyscanner data proves that flying on Christmas day is actually more expensive, except if flying to the USA.

Screenshot 2016-01-04 at 3.27.39 PM

Skyscanner Travel Editor, Catherine McGloin, says:

“It’s a long held belief that you’ll be guaranteed to bag a bargain by flying on Christmas Day but as our data clearly shows, that is not always the case. The best way to find the cheapest deal is to be flexible on your travel dates, using our browse by month tool shows the cheapest flights available and setting up price alerts so you’ll get alerted as soon as the price drops (or rises) will also save some of that all-important Christmas cash.”

Other cheap days to fly, especially within Europe, include Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This mainly due to budget airlines such as Ryanair dropping there prices midweek. I mean, nobody really wants to leave for a vacation on a Tuesday, do they? If you are willing to fly on these unpopular days, you are guaranteed to find much cheaper flights. On Skyscanner, there is an option to click WHOLE MONTH when choosing the dates you wish to fly. When you pick this option, the website will tell you the cheapest dates to fly.

Tip 5: Go EVERYWHERE

Not fussed where you go, as long as you get out of  your home country for a few days? Skyscanner will be your new best friend. Whenever I want to go away for a long weekend in Korea, I click the option from Seoul to EVERYWHERE. This means that SkyScanner will tell you the cheapest cities and countries to fly to on the specific dates you are free. Using this great feature has landed me in the Philippines earlier this year and on a solo trip to Japan in October last year. Use this feature, and use it often, and soon you will be traveling to more countries than you ever dreamed possible!

skyscanner-cheap-flights-results

Tip 6 – Switch Browsers

I was told recently that flight prices can increase or decrease depending on the browser you are using. Apparently the browser you use can be linked to the computer you own and this can be linked to what kind of income you earn/your social class. For example, if you search for flights using Safari, then you must be a Mac user and are deemed to have more money than someone using Firefox or Chrome. I just did a search using both Safari and Chome, at the exact same time, to test out this method and sadly it did not seem to make a difference. That said, you never know, so no harm in trying, eh?

If anyone has any more tips about booking cheap flights, please leave a comment!

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17 Comments

  1. James
    June 10, 2014 / 2:04 pm

    Couldn’t agree more Janet. We don’t book a flight without SkyScanner! It’s so unique and simply the best out there. Can’t tell you how much money we’ve saved by these principles listed in this article by Janet. However I just found out about the cookies scheme and always wondered about this. Because I like cookies for remebering site info etc, 1 trick I might try is to use the Incognito browser feature in Chrome! We’re booking Summer flights now so I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks again and keep traveling the world people!

    • June 11, 2014 / 12:54 am

      Removing the cookies are clutch! I don’t always go with the prices on sky scanner, but I always give it a shot! But must say those cookies gotta get removed. Nice post!

    • July 18, 2014 / 4:49 pm

      Hi there, Skyscanner here!
      We loved the blog, and are thrilled that you find our site and apps useful – it’s certainly always our aim to assist happy travelers! Some really good tips there, too!
      We wanted to follow up about the cookie aspect. To give some more context, Skyscanner acts as a search engine and as such the technology can only display the prices passed on to us by our airline and travel agent providers. We don’t influence this pricing in any way, so can certainly reassure that there is no cookie-based trickery going on :-)
      Flight prices are of course live, and subject to constant change – usually in line with demand and availability – so prices can change quickly. If you ever have any examples and screenshots where you can see any unexpected behavior we’d love to hear from you so that we can investigate – you can reach us here: http://www.skyscanner.net/contactus.aspx
      Thanks again for the blog piece and comments, and great to read that you enjoy using Skyscanner!

  2. June 11, 2014 / 6:03 am

    Yeah those dratted cookies can make a massive difference! Not just flights, hotels too!

  3. LOLMOMA
    June 19, 2014 / 2:32 pm

    I changed over to Kayak after few years using Skyscanner, I definitively get better prices than the previous one !

  4. November 17, 2014 / 11:12 pm

    Thank you for this! I’d heard of Skyscanner but had never tried it- how I was missing out! Obviously it’s great that it’s cheap, but it’s also so EASY! Booking flights and trying to compare prices is always so stressful and time-consuming, and I usually avoid expedia etc. because of a few bad experiences (it’s almost impossible to cancel a flight- though at $40 why would I even need to bother?!)

  5. December 19, 2014 / 3:56 pm

    Searching for flights on a regular basis would probably be my first tip to those looking for flights – always be on the look-out. Many budget airlines like Air Asia and Ryanair hold last-minute sales that are only available for 48 hours so if you don’t always have one eye on the prize, you will risk missing out.

  6. July 29, 2015 / 3:57 pm

    Regarding tip # 2, instead of having to delete cookies, you could just launch incognito/private browsing in your browser so the site will be tricked into thinking you’re a new user every time you visit it. The cookies are deleted when you close the incognito/private browsing session. However, if you need to log in to the site with an account, then it’ll probably not matter as the system will recognize you as a returning user. :)

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  8. Ravi
    September 18, 2015 / 4:54 pm

    This is interesting and useful!
    I might be trying Skyscanner for the first time to travel to Asia, but I have some doubts. I was looking at some of the flights, and I found some good ones. Then, just to check, I went to the airline webpage to check for the same flights…and ….the flight number and the schedule was the same, but NOT AVAILABLE anymore (all seats had been booked). So, I’m unsure about buying my ticket from Skyscanner now…are they selling overbooked flights?

    I’d really love to buy a ticket from there because of the cheap prices…but what if I show up at the airport and can’t actually board the plane?

    Thanks!!!!

  9. Jeremy
    February 3, 2016 / 4:01 am

    Are you being paid by skyscanner??? Skyscanner DOES increase prices on cookies!!!!!!! I often delete my cookies and I see massive price drop in less than 1min. Same for my other travel friends. Am already travelling for 4y continually so I know what am talking about

  10. JS
    June 1, 2016 / 7:17 am

    One thing I noticed though is that you should always check the airline’s website in parallel. Skyscanner usually has the best fares, but I was able on occasion to get almost half priced tickets by booking directly with the airline.

    The travel agencies also tend to add some fees at the end of the purchasing process. It’s usually not enough to make you start over, but it does sometimes remove the advantage of booking through them.