There are tons of guides out there showing how you can find cheap airline tickets and airfare deals. Some of them, like Nomadic Matt’s travel hacking guide, are incredibly comprehensive and useful. However there are two problems with all those guides:
- The recommended flight search engines (Kayak, Skyscanner etc.) cater to travelers living in North/South America. They almost never find the cheapest fares for flights in Asia.
- Earning airline miles in Asia is ridiculously difficult. There are some decent mileage run routes but unlike in the US, you don’t get miles for signing up for a credit card, opening a bank account, staying at hotels etc.
But I digress. This guide isn’t about travel hacking to get more miles. It’s my secret to finding the cheapest flights in Asia and Europe. Let’s start…
1. Power up the flight search engines
Not all travel search engines are made equal when it comes to different geographic regions. I always start with my Number One choice: Wego.
Why Wego? Being the bargain hunter that I am, I’ve done hundreds of searches for cheap flights. Flying to/from/around Asia, Wego gives me the cheapest fare every time. That’s because they’ve included Asia’s many budget airlines like Scoot and infrequent routes by smaller carriers – such as direct flights from Bangkok to Ulaanbatar and North Korea.
Next, Skypicker. Skypicker started off as a fantastic tool that will sift out dirt-cheap European flights as low as 28 EUR (one-way), but now they’re venturing into Southeast Asia as well! Their interactive map interface and Anywhere feature are great for planning your route around Asia or Europe.
Finally for comparison, I use BootsnAll Indie and HipMunk. HipMunk has some cool features that are missing in Wego: multiple tabbed searches, searching 2 days before/after, and filtering results by airline alliances instead of just individual airlines.
2. Snap up special deals
If you’re really serious about finding cheap flights, subscribe to airlines’ special fare promotion emails. Make sure they’re targeted to wherever you’re residing. My favorite is Lufthansa: they’re a pretty good airline, the promotional fares are attractive, they allow turnaround open-jaw, which means I can fly into one European city (e.g. London) and out from another (e.g. Amsterdam), and I get to earn some Star Alliance miles. Whee!
Daily deal sites such as Groupon also offer all-in tour packages that even include accommodation and city tours.
3. Leave it to the experts
If you’re too busy to keep searching for cheap flights and keep track of airfare deals, try Flightfox. All do is pay a small fixed fee, enter your itinerary, and experts from around the world will compete to find you the cheapest flights. Because you’re working with real people, it’s easy to specify your preference for travel dates, airlines, and layovers even for complex trips.
Even when testing Flightfox on a simple one-way flight, I was recommended some amazing cheap flights that I could never find on my own.
4. Check direct bookings
Finally, after I’ve gotten the best results from the above steps, I always visit the airline’s website to try a direct booking. It’s often cheaper and you can select better flights with less layover time, as well as check the fare conditions (like how many miles you can earn!)
Some final tips
- Being flexible with dates is the best way to find cheaper flights.
- Layovers may be worth it if the airfare is significantly cheaper than a direct flight and it’s at a good timing that allows you to stretch a bit.
- You should choose a flight that’s slightly more expensive if it can earn you more frequent flyer miles. Do the math!
That’s it for now. Let me know if this guide on how to find cheap flights around Asia/Europe was useful! If you’ve got some tips of your own, do share them in the comments.