Insider Travel Tips and Hacks

3 Need-to-Know Hacks for Scoring Cheap Flights — From the Ultimate Insider

Travel influencer Johnny Jet shares the money-saving tips for cheap flights the pros use.

Johnny Jet (real name: John DiScala) is the expert and blogger behind the eponymous site JohnnyJet.com. He appears on Forbes' list of Top 10 travel influencers, and flies an average of 150,000 miles and visits 20 countries annually. Jet Set has teamed up with the professional globe trotter to bring you an exclusive collection of Johnny Jet's pro travel tips and hacks. Here's Johnny...

The question I’m probably asked the most frequently is, “What are your tips for finding cheap flights?” Everyone wants a cheap flight and it seems that no is ever low enough! For example, I recently had a friend call me and ask how he could find a cheaper airfare than the one he’d found, which was $145 each way, New York to L.A. I asked him how much it costs for a car service to go from his home to the airport. He said $125... and the distance was a mere 42 miles. So I pointed out that $145 to travel 2,500 miles seemed like a bargain. He still disagreed... so I gave him these four tips for cheap flights — all illustrated in my video above, so make sure to press play!

1.  Be flexible.

If you aren’t flexible, then you aren’t going to get a deal. The airlines have no incentive to lower prices when demand is high — and if you were an airline executive you would do the same. So the secret to getting cheap flights is to travel when others aren’t. For example, if you want to travel for Thanksgiving, don’t depart on the Wednesday before and return on the Sunday or early morning on the Monday after like everyone else. Instead, go a day or two earlier and return a day or two later to save big.

Not only should you be flexible with dates but with airports, too. For example, rather than flying into (or out of) Miami when going to South Florida, check out Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL), which is 26 miles north and usually much cheaper. Almost every major city has alternate airports including New York (JFK, LGA, EWR, HPN) and Los Angeles (LAX, BUR, SNA, LGB). Most third-party sites will show you alternate airports but I created a website called AlternateAirports.com to show users the actual driving distance to most U.S. airports.

2.  Pick an airline with inclusions.

Southwest Airlines, the original low-cost carrier, is now the only major carrier not to charge for the first and second checked bag (how ironic is that?) If you’re checking two bags, you can save an extra $120 for a roundtrip ticket just by flying Southwest. However, Southwest’s fares don’t show up in any search engines except their own so you need to log on to Southwest.com to find their deals. They don’t always appear the cheapest at first but when you factor in the fact that they don’t charge extra for baggage (and change fees), flying them will usually save you money.

3.  Pay with miles instead of cash.

Each time you travel, you earn miles or points that can be redeemed for travel. If you find a flight you like but it’s outside your price range, see if you have enough rewards points to book it. If you do, you might only have to pay $5.60 for fees and taxes. One of the quickest ways to accumulate miles is by owning a travel rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You earn two-times rewards points on every dollar you spend on travel and you can transfer them on a one-to-one basis to your favorite loyalty programs including Southwest Airlines and United.

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