How to Get Cheap Flights With a VPN + 14 Money-Saving Tips

Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan Senior Writer
Updated on: May 31, 2024
Fact Checked by Eric Goldstein
Tim Mocan Tim Mocan
Updated on: May 31, 2024 Senior Writer

Short on Time? Here’s how to get cheap flights in 2024:

  • Get a good VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN, as it has servers in 105 countries (including many low-income locations), and it helped my colleague in the US save $216 on a Denmark-Vietnam flight and my colleague in the UK save around $144 on a flight from Spain to Australia.
  • Download and install the VPN. Just follow the installation wizard’s instructions — the whole process won’t take more than 1–2 minutes.
  • Open the VPN app and connect to a VPN server. Try using a VPN server from a low-income country, then start browsing for cheap flights.
  • Try other money-saving tips. Using different browsers in incognito mode, a different device, flight comparison sites, budget airlines, and loyalty points can also help you get cheap flights.

Flying should be both convenient and affordable — but it’s not like airline companies are going to tell you how to save money on their flights.

That’s why I spent the past weeks testing different ways to find budget-friendly flights. I read tons of blog posts from travel influencers, talked with seasoned travelers on different forums, and tried out different methods on flight booking sites (and asked a few of my colleagues to do the same) to see which ones work best.

I found that the best way to get cheap flights is to use a VPN, which is an online app that spoofs your location. I tested the top VPNs on the market and quickly mentioned the top 3 that are great for getting cheap flights (ExpressVPN is my #1). In addition, I also put together a list of 14 other tips that can save you money on flights.

Get Cheap Flights With ExpressVPN Now

How Does a VPN Help You Get Cheap Flights?

Airline companies often personalize their prices based on what country you’re from — so you might see higher prices if you’re from a high-income country like the US, the UK, or Japan.

Fortunately, a VPN can help you change your online location — it does this by routing your traffic through a VPN server, so you’ll access airline sites using the VPN server’s IP address. Basically, your connection will look like this:

You → Internet Service Provider → VPN Server → Airline Site

This causes travel sites to think you’re accessing them from the VPN server’s location — if it’s a low or middle-income country or just a different location, there’s a chance you might see cheaper airline tickets.

I asked my colleague in the US to test how well this works. He first used Skyscanner (a flight search engine) to look up flights from Denmark to Vietnam without being connected to a VPN. Then, he used ExpressVPN, which is the best VPN for getting cheap flights on the market, to search for the same flights on Skyscanner.

Here is the cheapest flight my colleague found without a VPN:

How Does a VPN Help You Get Cheap Flights?

And here’s the cheapest flight he saw with a Vietnamese VPN server:

How Does a VPN Help You Get Cheap Flights?

So, my colleague in the US would have been able to save $216 on a flight from Denmark to Vietnam by using a VPN!

Plane ticket prices fluctuate very often, so I can’t guarantee that a VPN will always help you save a lot of money. I also can’t guarantee that you will see the same savings my colleague did. So always remember that using a VPN to get cheap flights can sometimes mean you might save $100+, while other times you’ll only see $5–$10 discounts.

Best VPNs for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

Quick summary of the best VPNs for getting cheap flights:

  • 🥇 1. ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN for getting cheap flights in 2024 with a large server network.
  • 🥈 2. Private Internet Access — Excellent VPN for blocking ads on flight comparison sites + customizable apps.
  • 🥉 3. CyberGhost VPN — Great VPN for beginners with user-friendly apps and automatic connections.

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

1. Use Flight Comparison Sites

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

Flight comparison sites allow you to quickly compare airline prices. They show information from tons of airlines so you can see which ones provide the best deals — it’s much more time-efficient than manually looking up flights on different carriers’ sites. Here are the most popular flight comparison sites at the moment:

Kiwi Very user-friendly and lets you easily filter flights by carriers, countries, and departure and arrival times. I usually find the cheapest flights on this site.
Kayak Lets you easily filter cheap flights by payment method and change fees and also has a digital map you can use to browse destinations and see the cheapest flights near you.
Skyscanner Makes it easy to view flight prices in different currencies and also provides quick access to hotel bookings and car rentals.
Momondo Uses a massive database to display the cheapest flights. I also like how it lets you filter flights by take-off and landing times, which is useful if you have another plane or a bus or train to catch.
CheapOair Lets you get fare alerts for specific flights, allows you to filter tickets by flight or layover duration and sometimes offers promo codes that provide even bigger savings.
Priceline Allows you to easily bundle flights, hotel bookings, and car rentals in one search to quickly find the best deals for you.
ITA Matrix Advanced flight search site powered by Google that lets you use filters like preferred time of the day to depart, senior discounts, and routing and extension codes.
Skiplagged Good flight search engine for finding “hidden city” flights, which are usually pretty cheap.
Secret Flying Easy to use and good for finding mistake airfares.

I strongly recommend checking for a flight on multiple flight comparison sites, as some might display better deals than others. For example, I looked up a flight from Hungary to the UAE on Kiwi and Kayak — the cheapest flight on Kiwi was $88, while the cheapest flight on Kayak was $263, so Kiwi saved me around $175, which is great.

2. Use a Different Browser in Incognito Mode

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

Avoid accessing a booking site multiple times with your day-to-day browser. That allows it to learn about your preferences and browsing habits through cookies, which are small text files a site places on your device via the browser. The more you do that, the more likely you are to see higher prices — sites might do that to create a sense of urgency, which might cause you to book a flight on the spot for fear of the prices going up even higher.

Instead, install a separate browser and use its incognito mode to look up flights — that way, there will be no cookies to give away your preferences. Even better, incognito mode clears any cookies the site might store on your device on exit. I tested this by looking for a flight from the US to Poland on Priceline using my regular browser and a different browser I never used running in incognito mode. The separate browser displayed flights that were almost $90 cheaper!

3. Use a Different Device

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

Flight booking sites also collect data about your browsing and preferences via browser fingerprinting, which is a method of analyzing a user’s software and hardware configuration — basically, it allows the site to collect data such as your device type, operating system version, language, timezone, and more. Just like it does with cookies, the site might then use this data to display higher prices when it detects your software and hardware.

You can circumvent that type of data collection by using a different device — for example, I looked up a flight from Denmark to Dublin on Kiwi using my Windows 10 PC and my girlfriend’s Windows 10 laptop and was able to find a flight that was $42 cheaper on my girlfriend’s device.

4. Try Budget Airlines

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

You’ll almost always see cheaper flights with budget airlines than with big carriers. I think budget airlines are a good pick for shorter flights, as the ticket price doesn’t include amenities like seat selection, meals and drinks, and baggage check, and there’s also less leg-room. Another thing to keep in mind is that some budget carriers fly in or out of smaller airports, which are located further out of town.

I tested this by looking up a flight from France to Italy on Kiwi — flying with a budget airline like Ryanair costs around $86, while flying with a larger carrier like ITA Airways costs roughly $144, so the low-cost carrier would have saved me $58, which is neat.

Here are the most popular low-cost airlines depending on your location:

The US Canada Australia & New Zealand Europe Asia
Southwest Air Canada Rouge Jetstar Ryanair AirAsia
Frontier Flair Airlines Wizz Air Jeju Air
Allegiant Air Swoop easyJet HK Express
Sun Country Airlines Eurowings SpiceJet
JetBlue Iberia Express Nok Air

5. Set Up Fare Alerts

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

Fare alerts are helpful if you know exactly where and when you want to fly. With fare alerts, you’ll receive email notifications if the price for the flight you’re interested in drops below the current price.

6. Avoid Peak Travel Times and Tourist Destinations

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

You’re more likely to see cheap flights if you book when most people don’t want to fly — like during holidays, low seasons, or on weekdays. People also tend to avoid very early flights (usually between 5am and 7am) and overnight flights. I can’t guarantee this, as you might sometimes see flights that are cheaper on weekends than weekdays for instance, but I’m usually able to find the cheapest flights by using the metrics that I previously mentioned.

Here’s an example — I looked up a New York-Los Angeles flight on Priceline, and the tickets were around $150 cheaper on weekdays compared to weekends. Also, flying on Christmas Eve is almost 50% cheaper than flying on the 23rd or 25th of December.

Being flexible with your destination also helps you save a great deal. That’s because peak seasons vary from location to location. For example, my colleague in the US used Kiwi to look up a flight from New York on a specific date to different destinations by using the Anywhere tag — he found out the cheapest place he could fly to in the US was Orlando, while the most affordable international destination was Berlin.

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

7. Book One Ticket at a Time as a Group

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

If you’re traveling with a friend, you might get better prices if you book one ticket at a time. This is often cheaper than buying two tickets at once. For example, I looked up a flight from Seattle to Miami for 2 people, which was priced at $319 per ticket — but when I reduced the number of travelers from 2 to 1, the same flight dropped from $319 per ticket to $273 per ticket!

This happens because airlines use different fare categories (called “fare buckets”), and each category comes with its own pricing — and when you try to book multiple tickets, the airline will likely try to put the entire group into a single fare bucket. So in my example, there’s a chance the airline only had one more ticket in the $273 fare bucket. When I looked up 2 tickets instead of 1, the airline skipped over the single $273 ticket, and instead displayed fares with at least 2 seats available, which were priced at $319 per ticket in this case. So, by booking the tickets one by one, I would have been able to save around $46.

8. Book Flights within the “Goldilocks Window”

This term refers to the period when you are most likely to find the best rates on flights. Here’s when that is:

  • For domestic flights — You’re more likely to see cheaper flights if you book 1 to 3 months before your travel dates.
  • For international flights — Try booking 2 to 8 months before your travel dates. If you’re flying during a peak travel time (such as Christmas), try adding 2–3 months to those windows.

In addition, fares usually tend to go up 21, 14, and 7 days before departure — that’s because certain fare buckets are only available if they are booked a certain number of days in advance. Plus, airlines are aware that business travelers book flights late and don’t care about the cost because the company is paying for them, so they increase the prices on tickets business travelers usually purchase (like last-minute tickets).

9. Try Paying in a Foreign Currency

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

You might sometimes find cheaper flights if you choose to pay in a different currency. For instance, I looked up 2 tickets from Seattle to Miami — in USD, the price was around $385 per ticket, but when I switched to Bangladeshi taka, the price was roughly $378 per ticket. So I would have been able to save around $13.

Keep in mind this isn’t likely to work 100% of the time, and you won’t get huge discounts with this method, but every little bit still helps. You can also use a VPN (like ExpressVPN) to spoof your location if the flight booking site you’re using doesn’t allow you to switch currencies.

10. Use Loyalty Points to Save Money

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

Loyalty programs come with cool rewards, such as discounts or even free flights (when you accumulate enough loyalty points) — many airlines have their own rewards programs, and some credit cards provide loyalty programs with airline-related rewards too.

For example, United Airlines has a loyalty program called MileagePlus. It rewards you with miles (which never expire) on your purchases — you can later use these miles to pay for flights, hotels, airport dining, and more.

11. Try to Find Mistake Airfares

Airlines or online travel agencies sometimes post the wrong prices, which are much cheaper than what they would normally charge — this generally happens due to human error, currency conversion issues, or technical glitches.

Mistake airfares are usually “discounted” anywhere between 75% and 90%, so you can usually save up to a few hundred dollars on them. Finding them mostly comes down to luck, but you can improve your odds by using a flight search engine like Secret Flying, which sometimes posts error fares. You could also try using a flight deals-finder like Scott’s Cheap Flights, though keep in mind it’s a paid service.

Please remember there’s always a risk that the airline won’t honor such tickets. Sometimes, they will cancel them and provide you with a refund and maybe a voucher. Though, most of the time, an airline company honors mistake airfares, as it might cost it more to correct the fare, and its public image might also take a hit if it rescinds the deal.

12. Get a Hidden City Flight

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

Sometimes, it’s cheaper to take a flight that connects in a city you want to go to instead of flying directly to that city. Basically, you take the flight that connects in the city you want to visit and just hop off there.

I tested this and can confirm it’s true. I was able to find a connecting flight on Skiplagged (which is good for finding hidden city flights) that was cheaper than a direct flight on Kiwi. Basically, I would have saved around $36 by taking a flight from Seattle to Miami with a stop in Las Vegas than flying from Seattle straight to Las Vegas.

I strongly recommend only taking carry-on luggage for such flights — once your luggage is checked, it’s very likely that it might go to the final destination.

Also, there’s a chance that you might not be allowed off the plane if the same plane is continuing onward to its final destination.

13. Book Connecting Flights Yourself

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2024

For transfer flights, consider booking separate legs. It can save money and sometimes make long waits (like those 10-hour layovers) more bearable.

This is my test approach: I looked for a flight from Toronto to Sydney, which involved a layover of more than 10 hours in Vancouver. Next, I searched for independent flights from Toronto to Vancouver and then from Vancouver to Sydney. By making the bookings separately, I could have saved around $676, which is a significant amount. All that was required from me was to prolong my stopover in Vancouver by a couple of days, comfortably compensated by the savings I would have made on the Toronto-Sydney flight.

Do not plan tight layovers, which are only hours apart — there’s a chance you might miss your connection. Only use this tip if you’re okay with adding an extra destination to your trip.

14. Take Advantage of Schedule Changes

Should there be alterations in your flight schedule or outright cancellations, you often have rights to compensation. Beyond a refund, the airline might also offer you a better flight option, especially if your original choice was based on price rather than convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best VPN for getting cheap flights?

ExpressVPN is my go-to option for getting cheap flights in 2024 — it comes with servers in 105 countries, so you can connect to tons of locations to try and save money on flights. In addition, the provider’s apps are extremely simple to use, and it also comes with industry-leading security features. But the other VPNs I mentioned are also great picks.

What’s the best VPN server location for cheap flights?

My colleagues and I saw the best discounts with servers in lower-income countries, such as Algeria, India, and Egypt. We usually saw flights that were at least $50 cheaper that way.

But you might also see cheaper flights with servers in the same country as the airline you’re flying with. For example, I looked up a flight from New York to Paris run by Air France while connected to servers in France, the US, Germany, and the UK — I saw the cheapest flights while connected to the French server.

Just keep in mind that there’s no server location that can consistently provide you with cheap flights — a lot of factors influence the price, so you just need to test different countries until you find the best savings.

Can I get cheap flights with a free VPN?

You can try, but I don’t really recommend it — free VPNs usually limit you to very few server locations, so you can’t test different countries to see which ones provide the best savings. In addition, I also don’t like how some free VPNs lack essential VPN security features, have very slow speeds, and have buggy apps.

It’s honestly better to get a paid, affordable VPN, like ExpressVPN — it has servers in tons of countries (including many lower-income locations) and always provided my colleagues with discounts on flights in our tests.

Yes, as VPNs are legal in most parts of the world, and using one to get discounted flights is not against the law. That said, some countries ban VPNs, so I strongly recommend researching your local laws to make sure it’s 100% safe to use such a service.

Why are flights cheaper in some countries?

There are tons of factors that influence the price of flights, such as:

  • How wealthy the country is.
  • How expensive it is for the airline to operate flights to or from a country.
  • How popular the flights are in your country.
  • How popular the destination is.
  • If you’re traveling during high or low seasons.
  • Political events or changes that take place in a country.
  • If you’re located in the same country as the airline you want to fly with.

I recommend using these metrics, as well as a VPN (like ExpressVPN) and the other tips mentioned in this article, when booking flights, as they might help you save money.

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About the Author
Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan
Senior Writer
Updated on: May 31, 2024

About the Author

Tim Mocan is a Senior Writer at SafetyDetectives. He has 5+ years of experience researching and writing about cybersecurity topics, and he specializes in VPNs. Prior to joining SafetyDetectives, he worked as a contributor for other VPN review websites and as a content writer for several VPN providers. Throughout his freelance writing career, he has also covered other niches, including SEO, digital marketing, customer loyalty, home improvement, and health and rehab. Outside of work, Tim loves to spend his time traveling, playing video games, binging anime, and using VPNs (yes, really!).

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