Selecting flights can be difficult. If you’re looking a flight search engine, you’ll be bombarded by so many options that sometimes it can be overwhelming. No worries though! Let me help you break it down and teach you how to select a great flight. While cost is obviously important, you need to weigh these factors as well and see which ones are more important to you. Don’t choose a trip simply because it’s the cheapest one because the cheapest one might not always be the best.
Length of trip
Given that you have somewhat of a flexible schedule, I’d recommend checking to see if extending your trip by a couple of days can give you a cheaper flight. Sometimes taking off on a Sunday may be more expensive than taking off on a Tuesday. An extra two days can be the difference between tickets that cost a couple hundred dollars less.
Also, check to see how long the total length of your flight is. Does the flight extend over a couple days? Does it have just one layover, but that layover is super long? Make sure to check the TOTAL length of the flight trip to make sure you’re not in the airport forever.
Time of departure/arrival
When I travel, one of the things I look out for is when I depart from my city and when I arrive at my destination. I would recommend looking for later flights in the afternoon or evening. They tend to be cheaper (think red-eye flights) and depending on where you’re going, you can end up at your destination in the morning, which gives you a full day to start exploring.
This one is important and has two criteria to it: the number of layovers and the length of layovers.
Be honest with yourself and decide on how many layovers is too many layovers for you. Ideally, you have no more than 1 layover per one way. Layovers are incredibly tiring, and while it may seem like they’re not much when the flight is only an hour or two, they will take a toll on you, especially if this on your flight back home. Additionally, you have to see how the layovers are split up. Are all your layovers and main flight by the same airline? If they’re different, are they partners/affiliates? If you have a flight with one airline and the second flight is not a partner, connecting from one flight to the next might be difficult if a flight is delayed and you have a short layover.
Length of the layover is another important factor to consider. Sure, your flight might be cheap but if you’re stuck at an airport for a layover for 10 or more hours and/or stuck overnight, is it really worth it? When I consider layovers, I prefer the length of the layover to be no less than an hour and no more than 3-4 hours. Being stuck in an airport for longer periods of time can be really boring, depending on the time you’re stuck at the airport and which city you’re stuck in. Stuck at the airport during the day can be fun and gives you some options, but nighttime might mean you’re sleeping on the floor of the airport. Stuck at London Heathrow might be fun, but Albuquerque’s Sunport doesn’t give you much to do.
I’m sure you’ve seen all the airline scandals that have happened in recent news, so you may have a preference after reading through that news. While that can factor into your decision, I would recommend focusing more on reputation regarding how luggage is handled, if booking tickets is easy, and how often there are flight cancellations. For instance, Spirit Airlines and Ryanair are known for being super cheap airlines. Tickets for these airlines are often the least expensive, and the prices always look SO good. However, these airlines nickel and dime you for everything, and they’re often known to have delays and be terrible with your luggage. When I book flights, I always avoid these airlines because I’d rather pay a little more to have a smoother, more reliable airlines take good care of my belongings rather than save a couple of bucks but deal with potentially hours of stress.