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

Tim Mocan Tim Mocan
Published on: November 15, 2022

Short on Time? Here’s how to get cheap flights in 2022:

  • Step 1: Get a good VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN, as it has 3,000+ servers in 90+ 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.
  • Step 2: Download and install the VPN. Just follow the installation wizard’s instructions — the whole process won’t take more than 1–2 minutes.
  • Step 3: 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.
  • Step 4: 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. 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.

Well, a VPN is an online service that lets you change your location when you’re online — 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 means any air carrier or online travel site you access will think you’re accessing it from the VPN server’s location — if it’s a low-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 using his local internet connection:

How Does a VPN Help You Get Cheap Flights?

And here’s the cheapest flight he saw while connected to a Vietnamese VPN server:

How Does a VPN Help You Get Cheap Flights?

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

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.

Get Cheap Flights With ExpressVPN Now

Best VPNs for Getting Cheap Flights in 2022

Quick summary of the best VPNs for getting cheap flights:

  • 🥇 1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for getting cheap flights in 2022. Comes with 3,000+ servers in 90+ countries, including many low-income locations that help you save a lot on ticket prices. Also has very beginner-friendly apps, which make it easy to connect to servers to get cheap flights.
  • 🥈 2. Private Internet Access — Best for blocking ads on flight comparison sites. Has the best VPN ad blocker on the market, which gets rid of all ads on flight comparison sites, making them load faster. Also protects you from shady and malicious flight comparison websites, and has servers in 80+ countries, including many low-income places.
  • 🥉 3. Proton VPN — Great for optimizing speeds when buying cheap flights. Has a feature that boosts connection speeds on distant servers, which helps keep your connections stable while buying cheap flights. Also has 1,700+ servers in 60+ countries, including many low-income locations, and very user-friendly apps.

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Getting Cheap Flights in 2022

Quick summary of the best VPNs for getting cheap flights:

ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for getting cheap flights in 2022. As noted above, my colleague in the US ran tests and was able to save $216 on a Denmark-Vietnam flight on Skyscanner. I also asked my colleague in the UK to run tests, and he said connecting to a Malaysian server allowed him to save $144 on a flight from Spain to Australia.

I really like how the provider has 3,000+ servers in 90+ countries, including low-income countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, the Philippines, and India — you can connect to tons of locations to see which ones provide you with the cheapest flights.

I also love how user-friendly ExpressVPN is. It comes with apps for all major platforms, which only take 1–2 minutes to install. What’s more, the apps are very simple to navigate, which makes it easy to find and connect to different VPN servers.

Plus, I really like the Shortcuts feature, which lets you create 1-click shortcuts for specific apps and sites that show up on the VPN app’s screen after you connect to a server — this way, you can get instant access to platforms like Priceline and Skyscanner after you connect to ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN also provides free access to ExpressVPN Keys, a good password manager that can secure your login credentials for air carrier and flight search engine accounts. I’m also a big fan of the Threat Manager feature, which stops trackers from gathering information about which flights you browse and also prevents you from accidentally connecting to malicious flight comparison websites.

Plus, I like how the VPN comes with full leak protection — I ran leak tests on servers in 20+ countries and never experienced any leaks, so you don’t need to worry about ExpressVPN leaking your real location to air carrier sites and flight search engines. The provider also has other advanced security features, including RAM-only servers (every server reset wipes all data) and perfect forward secrecy, which changes the encryption key for each VPN session. And its no-logs policy has been independently audited and proven true.

ExpressVPN has the fastest speeds on the market, is the best streaming VPN out there, and provides excellent P2P support. It allows 5 connections, and its plans start at $6.67 / month — they’re pricier than other competitors, but worth it since this VPN provides excellent value. Also, each purchase is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get Cheap Flights with ExpressVPN Now

Read our full ExpressVPN review

🥈2. Private Internet Access — Best VPN for Getting Rid of Ads on Flight Comparison Sites

Quick summary of the best VPNs for getting cheap flights:

Private Internet Access (PIA) provides access to PIA MACE, which is the best VPN ad blocker on the market — in my tests, it always got rid of annoying ads on flight comparison sites like Priceline, Kayak, and Skyscanner, which made my web pages load much faster. Plus, I really like how PIA MACE can block malicious sites, as that protects you from shady flight comparison sites.

I also like that the provider has a large server network, with servers in 80+ countries, including low-income locations like Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, and India — when my colleagues from the US tested the VPN, he was able to save up to $166 on a flight from France to India on Kayak. This is great, but I honestly like ExpressVPN more because it has servers in 90+ countries, so you can test a few more locations to improve your odds of getting a good discount.

In addition, PIA’s apps are very intuitive. The interface is simple to navigate, there’s a search field for quick access to servers, and all features and settings have helpful explanations. Plus, I like that you can automate your VPN connections — for example, you can configure the VPN app to automatically connect you to a server when you use unsecured Wi-Fi (like when you use airport Wi-Fi to buy a cheap flight).

You also get very strong security features with this provider — it comes with advanced security features, like RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and full leak protection (I never experienced any leaks in my tests). What’s more, its no-logs policy has been proven true in several court documents, and it also passed an independent security audit. And all of the provider’s apps are open-source, which means anyone can inspect the code for security issues.

Private Internet Access is also one of the fastest VPNs in 2022, and it provides really good torrenting and streaming support. It allows 10 connections, and its paid plans start at only $2.03 / month, so they’re very affordable — plus, the provider has a 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans.

Get Cheap Flights with Private Internet Access Now

Read our full Private Internet Access review

🥉3. Proton VPN — Great VPN for Optimizing Speeds While Buying Cheap Flights

Quick summary of the best VPNs for getting cheap flights:

Proton VPN has fast speeds on all servers, but I’m a big fan of its VPN Accelerator feature, which uses speed-enhancing technologies to boost speeds on distant servers — this is especially useful if you need to connect to very distant servers to get cheap flights, as your connections will remain stable and won’t drop during checkout. I tested the VPN Accelerator feature while connected to very distant servers in Japan, Australia, and Chile, and my connections were 45–50% faster on average.

The provider also has 1,700+ servers in 60+ countries, including low-income places like Cambodia, Bulgaria, Egypt, Vietnam, and the Philippines. When my colleague from the UK tested this VPN, he was able to save around $124 on a flight from Germany to Egypt on Priceline. Even so, Proton VPN doesn’t have servers in as many countries as ExpressVPN (90+ countries) and Private Internet Access (80+ countries) — you can test more locations with those providers, so you’re more likely to find better deals.

Proton VPN is also very user-friendly, and its apps even have a digital map that allows you to quickly connect to the desired server location. In addition, the app design is intuitive, and there’s a Profiles feature that lets you create connection preferences — for example, you can create a profile for cheap flights that automatically connects you to a low-income location using the fastest VPN protocol.

The provider also comes with high-end security features — it has full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and full-disk encryption, which ensures all user data is safe even if a server is compromised. Plus, Proton VPN’s no-logs policy underwent an independent security audit, and all of its apps are open-source and audited. And it comes with NetShield, one of the best VPN ad blockers out there.

Proton VPN also provides great streaming and P2P support, and it has the best free plan on the market — but I don’t recommend it if you need cheap flights because it limits you to servers in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands. The provider’s paid plans, which start at $3.99 / month, provide access to all servers, 10 connections, and more. Also, each purchase is backed by a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get Cheap Flights with Proton VPN Now

Read our full Proton VPN review

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2022

1. Use Flight Comparison Sites

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2022

Flight comparison sites allow you to quickly check available flights from tons of airlines to 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 2022

Accessing a booking site multiple times with your day-to-day browser 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.

That’s why I strongly recommend installing a separate browser and using its version of incognito mode to access a carrier or flight comparison site — 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 2022

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 2022

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 which location you’re in:

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 2022

If you know exactly where you want to fly and when you want to do it, many flight comparison sites let you set up fare alerts — this way, 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 2022

You’re more likely to see cheap flights if you book them 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.

For 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.

And if you’re not fixed on a destination, you can save a great deal on flight tickets, as 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 2022

7. Book One Ticket at a Time as a Group

14 Other Tips for Getting Cheap Flights in 2022

If you’re traveling with a friend, you might get better prices if you book one ticket at a time instead of 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 2022

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 2022

You can sign up for loyalty programs, which reward you with 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 that 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 the tickets and 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 2022

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 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 2022

If you’re flying to a destination that involves a transfer, it might be cheaper to book the two legs separately — and also more convenient if it’s a very long transfer, like over 10 hours. Basically, this involves adding another destination to your trip.

For example, I looked up a flight from Toronto to Sydney, and it came with a 10+ hour transfer in Vancouver. I then searched for a Toronto-Vancouver flight and a Vancouver-Sydney flight — by booking them separately, I would have been able to save around $676, which is really good. All I had to do was add a few days in Vancouver to my journey, which would have been easily covered by the money I would have saved 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

If the flight itinerary significantly changes or the flight is canceled, you can often get a refund, or you could opt to be upgraded to a better flight. For example, if you bought a 6am flight because it was the cheapest non-stop option, and the airline decides to add a stop, you might be able to switch to a different non-stop flight that’s at a more convenient hour (like 11am), which would normally cost more.

What’s the best VPN for getting cheap flights?

ExpressVPN is my go-to option for getting cheap flights in 2022 — it comes with 3,000+ servers in 90+ 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 in this article are also great picks Private Internet Access has servers in 80+ countries and is good at getting rid of ads on flight comparison sites, and Proton VPN has 1,700+ servers in 60+ countries and is good for optimizing speeds while buying cheap flights.

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

When me and my colleagues ran tests, we saw the best discounts when we connected to servers in low-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 if you connect to a server 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 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 or Private Internet Access — they have servers in tons of countries (including many low-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 it’s also legal to use VPNs to get discounted flights. 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.

Best VPNs for Getting Cheap Flights in 2022:

Rank
Overall Score
Best Deal
1
9.4
save 49%
2
9.0
save 83%
3
8.8
save 50%
About the Author
Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan
Lead Contributor
Published on: November 15, 2022

About the Author

Tim Mocan is a cybersecurity journalist who has been writing about the VPN industry for the past 5 years. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, eating good food, video games, using VPNs (yes, really!), and watching anime.