Looking for cheap travel deals on Black Friday? Take advice from these flight hunters

These expert flight hunters are pros at finding the best possible deal. Here's how you can, too.
These expert flight hunters are pros at finding the best possible deal. Here's how you can, too.   -   Copyright  Left to right, top to bottom: Priyanka Juneja, Portia Jones, Carissa Rawson, Jen Ruiz
By Charlotte Elton

Black Friday means the chance to snap up some great flight deals.

It feels terrible to overpay for a flight. And as the cost of living crisis squeezes budgets worldwide, getting a good deal is all the more important.

Almost half of UK adults will be on the lookout for a Black Friday offer this year, according to research by the Civil Aviation Authority.

But what are the best ways to find the bargains and how can you maximise your chances of getting the cheapest tickets?

And how can you make sure you don’t get tricked by any Black Friday scams? 

Listen to these four expert flight hunters - and never overpay for a flight again.

Jen Ruiz, airline points aficionado and former lawyer

At 29, Jen Ruiz was a busy attorney at a reputable non-profit firm. But despite her professional success, she felt a “lack of accomplishment” in her personal life.

So she set out to take 12 trips in 12 months - all while working full-time. She ended up taking 20 trips.

“I was working on a public service salary and would not have been able to travel the world unless I learned about finding flight deals,” she says.

Now, Ruiz is a full time travel blogger, running the popular site Jen on a Jet Plane, and a bestselling travel author on Amazon.

What is the best flight deal you’ve ever got?

“I have flown to Auckland, New Zealand from Miami, Florida for $38 (€37.70) using points and miles. I’ve also flown to Ecuador for $16 (€14.90) and roundtrip to San Francisco for $22 (€21, both from New York) using points and miles. I’ve flown roundtrip to Iceland for $350 (€349) using budget airlines.”

What is your top tip for booking cheap flights?

“I swear by three methods - flight alerts, budget airlines, and points and miles. For those wanting an easy fix, flight alerts are the best because you get deals straight to your inbox and can click to book. For those with a set destination in mind but flexible dates, budget airlines are a great way to go. There are several new budget airlines to consider, including Norse Atlantic Airward, PLAY airlines and French Bee.

“If you’re still purchasing anything with a debit card, you’re wasting money. Redirect your existing spending to a travel credit card and get free vacations as a byproduct of your bills and groceries.”

Priyanka Juneja, founder of a women-only travel platform

Priyanka Juneja is also used to fitting her travels around studying and a full time job. The Boston local holds a masters in International Studies and an MBA from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, and previously worked at the Bank of America.

Now, she’s a blogger and the founder of Hera, a women-only travel platform focused on empowering female globetrotters. She’s visited more than 50 countries.

“I have hunted for the best flight deals for as long as I can remember!” she says.

“I don't usually pay more than $1,000 (€999) for a flight. It's very rare that I pay more than that.”

What is the best flight deal you’ve ever got?

“I got a return flight to South Korea from New York for $450 (€449). I found it simply by using Skyscanner and leaving my destination as ‘Everywhere’ to see where the cheapest place to fly to was. I flew to Greece from New York for $350 (€352) for Thanksgiving one year thanks to an email from Scott's Cheap Flights.”

What is your top tip for booking cheap flights?

“Subscribe to a flight deal newsletter. I am subscribed to Scott's Cheap Flights and have booked many flights this way. Be flexible on your departure / arrival dates and use Skyscanner or Google Flights to see what the cheapest dates are. I use Skyscanner to find my flights and in ‘Departure’ and ‘Return’ I just choose ‘whole month’ so that it brings up a calendar view where I can select the cheapest dates.”

“Consider if there are other airports you can fly in and out of. For example, I don't just look at flights out of Boston. I have purchased an international flight out of IAD (Washington Dulles International Airport) because it only cost me $80 (€80.50) one way to fly from BOS to IAD and the international flight from there was $1,000 (€1,006) less than it would have been from Boston.”

Portia Jones, podcast host and serial flight deal-hunter

Portia Jones
Portia Jones is a Welsh freelance journalist, and the host of the the Travel Goals Podcast.Portia Jones

Portia Jones is a Welsh freelance journalist, head of podcasting at South Girl Production Music and Podcasting, and the host of the Travel Goals Podcast.

“Travel is both my work and my passion, so I'll happily spend a whole evening researching flight and travel deals while eating take-out,” she says.

“There's nothing better than landing a sweet travel deal while slurping up spicy pad Thai.”

What is the best flight deal you’ve ever got?

“I flew return from the UK to Milan for £25 (€29), Chicago for £290 (€336), Marrakech for £35 (€41) and Colombo Sri Lanka for £270 (€313).”

What is your top tip for booking cheap flights?

“Pay careful attention to additional fees, surcharges and extras when booking low-cost flights. Brew a big pot of coffee, get cosy and read all the small print so you won't get stung with surprise costs, and travel with hand luggage if possible. I find being extremely flexible helps with keeping costs down - I will fly mid-week and at unsavoury hours to save on travel costs.

I also look to see if I can fly long haul with budget airlines such as Wizz Air and Play Airlines to fly to places like Boston and Uzbekistan cheaply.”

Carissa Rawson, former US Air Force linguist and air miles expert

Carissa Rawson
Carissa Rawson spends nine months per year travelling and honing her bargain-hunting skillsCarissa Rawson

After spending seven years in the US Air Force as an Arabic linguist, Carissa Rawson set off to travel the world using points and miles. Six years later, she’s still travelling, working as a freelance journalist to support herself.

“I'm technically based in San Diego, California, though I travel approximately nine months of the year,” she explains.

“I use a combination of award travel and cheap travel hacks to keep going, so sometimes I'm living quite fancily and sometimes I'm spending time in a hostel.”

Each deal takes about four hours to secure, Rawson says, with that time spent comparing different flights and rates.

What is the best flight deal you’ve ever got?

“My best value flights are the ones where I've used airline miles to score a premium cabin ticket. For example, I used 45,000 Turkish Airlines miles to fly business class from Frankfurt to Chicago with United Airlines. In terms of cash flights, I think my best deal was a $1,500 (€1,508) roundtrip ticket from Tel Aviv (TLV) to Los Angeles (LAX) in business class.”

What is your top tip for booking cheap flights?

“Generally speaking I've found my best deals about six weeks in advance.

“You'll also find cheaper flights - and hotels and tours - by travelling in the off season or the shoulder season. This means things like heading to Australia during June/July/August in the winter rather than summer, or taking a weekend break in Europe during spring or fall.

“I also tend to use quite a lot of frequent flyer miles to subsidise my flights. These work great for economy class tickets as well as business tickets. Although the US is more centred on credit card rewards, everyone has access to frequent flyer miles and can take advantage of these types of deals.”

How to avoid Black Friday flight scams

Unfortunately, where there are great travel deals there may also be scams.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has warned consumers to watch out for dodgy deals around Black Friday.

The aviation regulator is urging people to check offers carefully, especially when booking through websites and online apps.

“Travel companies are increasingly advertising discounts on getaways to UK consumers during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales period,“ CAA head of Atol Michael Budge said.

“Deals can seem attractive, but before booking, we would urge everyone to just do a bit of research to make sure it really is a bargain.”

The CAA advises consumers to check if a deal has Atol financial protection, to watch out for hidden extras, to book by credit card where possible and to consider travel insurance.