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The airline industry desperately wants to squeeze as many Benjamins out of us flyers as they can, but you don’t have to fall prey to their price hiking tactics. With the right app, you can save hundreds of dollars on an upcoming trip, with virtually zero effort on your end.
While Tuesday afternoons are still often the cheapest time for fares, you don’t need to watch the clock to know when to start searching on the United website. Now, smart travel apps do all that thinking and management for you. Just plug in your destination, date range, and budget, and let them take it from there.
Click through for 29 awesome apps and services that will take the stress out of finding a cheap flight so you can focus on what really matters: having fun once you arrive at your destination. View full article here.
Best For Sticking To A Specific Price Range: OneTravel
If you know you need to keep your airfare cost below a certain price tag, head to OneTravel. The discounted airfare site lets you search for fights under $200, under $400, and so on, in addition to letting you search by city and airline.
Best For Using Your Points: Fare Finders
If you have points with a specific airline, head to their main web site. Many, including JetBlue and British Airways have fare finders that will help you find the lowest possible price to your destination. You can choose to see the cost in dollars or points, then make the decision about using the loyalty rewards in your account.
Best For Planning Specific Vacation Packages: Hotwire
Sometimes you need to book a flight and a rental car. Other times it’s just the flight and hotel. Or maybe it’s all three. Regardless, Hotwire has you covered. The site saves you hundreds of dollars by finding the best group discounts around.
Best For Short Trips: Fly.com
Fly.com offers stellar deals on airfare, hotels, and cars, but we especially love it for its “short trip” airfare offers. Go to “Today’s Best Fares,” enter your departure city and ideal price range. Select “short trips” and you’ll see roundtrip airfare options for a range of reasonably close locales.
Best For Finding Major Airline Deals In One Place: RetailMeNot
You might associate RetailMeNot with apparel discounts, but the site has a robust selection of travel discount codes and deals, too. Opt for the website over the app, though, to search specifically for flight deals. Before testing a code, be sure to check out the user comments to see if others have tried and found it successful.
Best For Finding The Perfect Time-Cost Balance: Momondo
Like other apps, Momondo asks you to start off by entering the basics — where you’re leaving from, where you’re headed, and your dates of travel. From there it pulls three different categories of ticket options: Cheapest, Quickest, and Best. As you might guess, Best is, well, the best. For each listing in the category, Momondo provides a rating that’s determined by weighing the length of the flight against the price. So, you can easily find the cheapest flight available that won’t leave you with insanely long layovers.
Best For Finding What’s Possible On A Budget: liligo
If you want to get away, but aren’t sure what’s possible for your budget, download liligo. In addition to comparing prices across plane, train, and car, the app lets you put in a departure city, month, and budget. Then, it will map out the deals for you and show you where you can go on the fly.
Best For Business Travelers: Upside Travel
The genius of Upside Travel is that it rewards you for work travel. Book your flights and hotel as a package online. The lower-priced bundle means that your company gets a better deal. Every time you book, you’ll get a gift card to use for yourself, some of which can total hundreds of dollars, to places including Amazon, Target, and Whole Foods. Plus, you still get to use your own frequent flier miles when booking, so it’s really a win-win situation.
Best If You Need To Get Away ASAP: GTFO (Get The Flight Out)
GTFO (free, iOS) is one of the simplest travel apps out there, but it’s also the best if you really need a weekend away at a second’s notice. All you have to do is enter your departure airport. The app compiles a list of the cheapest next-day flights to cities around the world and, when you’ve found one you like, links you to the airline’s site to buy your tickets. You’re done in seconds and can go pack sooner.
Best for knowing what you’re getting: TripAdvisor
In addition to offering helpful alerts that will tell you when prices drop, TripAdvisor’s app (free, iOS and Android) provides what the site does best: reviews. Photos and write-ups from other travelers will give you inside intel on your plane, so you’ll know which seat to pick and can judge if the low price is worth the minimal legroom.
Best For Getting Upgrades: Thanks Again
If you tend to buy coffee, food, or candy at the airport, download Thanks Again (free, iOS and Android). Add your credit or debit cards to the app and use it when shopping. You’ll earn points at over 1000 merchants that are registered with the app that you can use towards free miles, cash back, and seat upgrades.
Best For Comparing Destinations: JetRadar
If you don’t have your heart set on visiting one location, download JetRadar (free, iOS and Android). The app’s Price Map allows you to check out the cost of flights to cities around the world, so that you can find one that fits your budget or discover an insane deal to scoop up stat. The app also offers push notifications to alert you when ticket prices drop, and breaks down the best flights based on price and speed.
Best for Curated Deals: Travelzoo
If you don’t feel like scrolling through tons of deal listings, just read Travelzoo’s Top 20. The app (free, via the App Store) researches the best deals across across the web and compiles them into one, easy to digest list every week. Not all of the packages include airfare, but many do.
Best for Package Deals: Orbitz
Kill two birds with one stone with the Orbitz app (free, iOS and Android). Select “Packages” to book your hotel at the same time as your flights and you can save over $500.
Best for Beach Goers: Fareness
While Fareness (free, via the app store) will help you save 50% or more on flights to a wide range of locations, its dedicated beach section is what sets it apart. Find the best roundtrip deals to white sand locales including Cancun, St. Thomas, and Puerto Vallarta. Once you find one you like, you can easily share it with friends via iMessage or Facebook.
Best If You’re Flexible (& Impulsive): DealRay
DealRay (free trial, iOS or web) scours the web for the best flight deals all over the globe. If you become a member of the app, you can also set up alerts so you’re notified when there’s a bargain flight taking off from your area airport. If you’re flexible about where and when you want to travel, so long as you’re traveling on the cheap, this app is for you.
Best If You’re Still In The Planning Stages: Google Flights
You want to take a vacation at some point a few months from now, to somewhere… But, while you have an idea of what you want, you don’t have anything pinned down yet. That’s okay! You may not have ever realized it, but Google actually has a powerful flight search built into its browser, and if your travel plans are a bit open-ended, it’s excellent for exploring your options. Here’s how it works: Enter your search, like “Flights to Paris,” for example, then in the search results, click “Flights” across the top navigation bar. There, you can customize the date range and budget and see a list of options from a variety of airlines neatly listed out. If you’re not sure (or you don’t care) which airport you want to travel to — say you just want the cheapest flight into Europe, it doesn’t matter if it’s actually Paris or not — Google shows a map that plots out other airports and their prices for the same travel dates. You can click a result for more details, like whether it has in-flight TV, Wi-Fi, and how often it’s usually delayed. Then you can choose what site to actually book the fare through.
The latest update to Google Flights includes notifications that let you know when fares are expected to go up or down to help you decide whether to hold off or book right away. If you’re having trouble picking a flight, use the site’s tips on finding low airfare to guide your choice.
If your plans are more flexible, tap the “Explore” tab to see suggested destinations and accompanying flights.
Best If You’re Not In A Rush: Lola Travel
If you want to take a trip at some point in the future, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time planning it yourself, check out Lola Travel. This invite-only app gives you access to real, human travel consultants who will help you plan everything from your flight and hotel stay, to what you do once you get to your destination. You can be as specific or as general as you want in your requests (say you want a romantic week-long getaway with flights under $1,000, or a trip to the Bahamas during the cheapest time of year), and Lola will help solve your needs.
Best If Your Flight Might Get Cancelled: Freebird
When you’ve got to get to your destination tonight, and your flight’s been cancelled, it can be a nightmare to deal with your airline, finding a new flight, and trying not to spend an insane amount of money. If you’ve got an important flight — or know you’re traveling a route that often gets delayed or cancelled — pay $19 (one-way) or $34 (round-trip) for Freebird instead. Freebird is a lot like flight insurance, but it takes the cost of your new flight out of the equation entirely, so all you have to focus on is picking one of the available flights that best suits your needs.
Best For Bargain Hunters: Hopper
You’re one of those people that manages to find the cheapest deal on everything, aren’t you? You should check out Hopper (free on iOS), which provides an overview of when you can get the best deals on flights, and when’s the best time to purchase them. The app “analyzes billions of flight prices daily” so you can save up to 40% on flights. When you search a particular route, the app clearly tells you what the lowest price available is right now, whether you should purchase now or wait, and the latest date by which you should book tickets. The app also notifies you as soon as prices drop, and when they’re about to go up, thanks to a price predicting feature. If you’ve got some wiggle room when it comes to purchasing your tickets, Hopper is an excellent choice for figuring out the best deal.
Best For Travel Dates That Can’t Change: Kayak
If your upcoming travel dates are set in stone, there’s no point in browsing the deals you could get on other days. You just want the best available price, and Kayak (free on iOS and Android) can help with that. Kayak surfaces great deals from sites like Orbitz and Travelocity, as well as its own specials, so you find the absolute best rates for a particular day. The app organizes flights in order from least to most expensive, along with how many seats are available for each option. The app is super straightforward and easy to use, particularly since you can book flights straight through the app, rather than being redirected to another app or site. It’s also great if you’re looking for car rental and hotel deals after you’ve purchased your flight.
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