Insider Secrets To Booking Flights.

Insider Secrets Aircraft

Go On An Adventure Soon

The Skyscanner website is one of the best go to places for researching flights, hotels and car hire, I have used it since 2003 the year it was founded and it just keeps getting better and better. In this blog post and Episode 2 of the new internet TV show Insider Secrets, I will explain how I use it to get some unbelievable deals. I have no connection with Skyscanner and everything in this article is just my opinion and experience, so please read it cafeteria style and take away from it the bits which will help you the most. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this article, which is my first for the Insider Secrets series. 

Skyscanner.net is basically a powerful search engine, using some very sophisticated programming and I’m sure a little bit of pixie dust. With it you can discover some great deals and go and have an adventure. I mainly use the service to find cheap flights so I can film or photograph a new place or revisit an old favourite but over the years Skyscanner.net have added the facilities to find great deals on hotels and car hire too. The company have an App in both the Google Play Store and Apple’s Store but I still prefer the website because I can use it in incognito mode (privacy mode) on my browser.

Search Blocks

Using incognito mode in the Google Chrome browser has over the years saved me money because at the end of each session it deletes cookies, as well as other things. A computer cookie is a small text file generated by the website you are visiting, allegedly to improve your experience, however it can be used by the website to record your activity and even offer you a different price. A cookie isn’t the only thing they use but it has an impact on what you see online, other methods companies use are recording your I.P address, recording your device’s MAC address and many other metrics which can even identify where you live. Therefore all my research is done using private browsing.

Skyscanner.net has several ways to find a good deal my prefered method is by using the search box which is usually situated at the top of the page.

Someone once told me that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, the following tips may or may not improve your prospects of bagging a bargain and I suggest you try all of them until you find that perfect deal for you.

World Map Gold

Tip 1. Leverage of your location

I have discovered that when booking a flight from the UK to (insert any destination) I found that the outbound flight was a bargain but the return flight was not. UK to Spain £25 but Spain to UK £225. I also noticed that a flight booked in Spain to the UK was £25 but the return was £225, this got me thinking that if I booked 2 single tickets instead of a return I could make huge savings. So I started to investigate, I was amazed that I could do this quite easily just by changing the location on the Skyscanner site. 

I was however concerned that when booking the flight they could identify my real location by my I.P Address, so I used a VPN service to change it. There are 2 services I use for this on a regular basis, the first is Tunnel-Bear and the second is a Google Chrome browser extension called Hola, both these services are free and easy to set up. 

Different Currencies

Tip 2. Leverage of the exchange rate.

Last year the pound was worth 1.43 Euros, today it is a lot lot lower but I started to pay for my flights in Euros and I discovered that when my bank made the FX I would benefit. Once again I was able to do this without leaving the Skyscanners site.

N.B Once you have selected a flight, some websites which Skyscanner opens reverts to the currency of the country you are booking from. I look for an option to pay in a different currency and if this is not available I use a VPN and book through the company’s website from the country I want to fly. This is a bit of hassle but has saved me hundreds of pounds on several flights.

I set both the location and currency settings in Skyscanner before I start my searches.

Following a recent programme I saw on Norway I decided to visit the country and take a journey on Norway’s Northern Railway from Trondheim to Bodo. I could visit anytime in December so searched for the cheapest flights. In the past I have searched for a flight to anywhere based on price, Skyscanner has the ability to search based on price rather than destination, making a cheap microadventure possible.

Searching for flights is easy and Skyscanner gives you some great options from departing from anywhere to flying to, anywhere. I particularly like the option of selecting a whole month rather than a specific date, that way I can fly at the cheapest time. You’ll notice at the top of the drop down calendar you can choose a specific date or whole month and at the top of the whole month selection you can select the cheapest month, bearing in mind this will be the cheapest month based on present day prices. The flexibility and combinations of searches means you can pin down the best deal for your circumstances, fancy a few days away to relax on a beach or go shopping in Madrid Skyscanner.net makes it very easy.

Not sure where to go? Then below the search box Skyscanner will offer you some great suggestions.

Holding the earth

For people with Wanderlust there are some advanced features which makes building an itinerary incredibly easy. Multi-City searches allows you to put together amazing adventures, you could fly from Manchester to Amsterdam spend a day or three exploring this beautiful city followed by flying from Amsterdam to Madrid then returning to London. The combination of flights is as big as your imagination. Another feature I like is the ability to set up Alerts, which means you get an email when the price changes on a particular destination meaning you can go when the price is right.

The best way to get amazing flight deals is to be as flexible as possible on your departure dates, although Skyscanner is capable of finding some great deals even if you have to go on a specific date. Here are some things I’ve learnt over the years to get the best value flight, whenever I have to fly on a specific date.

  1. Start your research as early as possible.
  2. Sign up for Alerts.
  3. Use private or incognito mode in your browser.
  4. Book 12 to 8 weeks in advance.
  5. Buy one way tickets.
  6. Pack light / hand luggage only.
  7. Use send my bag (www.sendmybag,com/mrjholt)
  8. Book the Red Eye (early morning or late night flight)

Redeye flight

Sometimes I have flown a day early and enjoyed the sights, this was for a friend’s wedding, which was cheaper including the bed and breakfast than a flight on the actual day.

Although I mainly use Skyscanner for booking flights a lot of the above will count towards getting a cheaper hotel and car hire.

Over the past 13 years Skyscanner has added features and improved its search results and I recommend you have a look and try out a few searches of your own, you never know it may lead to your next adventure.

Coming up in this series I will give you my advice on booking the best accommodation for your needs. Some of them may surprise you and can save you hundreds of pounds.

So far we have only spoken about the skyscanner website, here are a few more helpful ways to bag a bargain.

Search for a package holiday in a rubbish apartment or in an unpopular location close to your chosen airport. On arrival just dump the accommodation, most travel companies have contracts which allow for a cheaper overall price. Recently a flight to a popular spanish resort was over £200 but a weeks holiday with return flight was £199 including a self catering apartment.

In my next post I will continue providing you with insider secrets from the travel industry.

The Insider Secret Series is a new weekly blog post for 2018 and will be my recommendation for travelling more throughout the year. To keep up-to-date then pop your email address in the box at the bottom of this page.


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About John Holt

John Holt has worked in the travel industry for over 14 years and comes highly recommended by Trip Advisor for his practical and candid talks on travel destinations. Spending 18 months as a "Local Interest Specialist" for a leading tour operator John has become known as having more practical information than Google.

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