I don’t necessarily consider myself a cheap-flight-finding-ninja but I have booked a ton of flights over the last few years and it is a little bit different finding flights in Europe as opposed to the US.
In the US it’s a little more straightforward as there’s not a ton of difference from using the travel aggregator sites like Expedia/Orbitz/Kayak which by and spit back pretty much the same deals for most flights. They might miss a few deals direct from airlines like Southwest but not many.
Booking flights in Europe is both easier and harder, as there the same sort of aggregator sites like Skyscanner.net and Mobissimo but also a lot of low-cost airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Wizz that don’t always pop up on the aggregator sites.
Both Ryanair and EasyJet fly to Malta so I usually start there as far as booking flights in Europe. Yeah, parts of the Ryanair experience are annoying as hell and it’s often not worth flying with them if you can’t travel light but they do offer some really cheap fares to many popular destinations.
If we’re heading someplace that Ryanair or EasyJet don’t serve, I always check Skyscanner, which more than often finds the best price and sends me off to eBookers to make the actual reservations.
What gets a little tricky — and where a little work can actually save you substantial money — is for flights that are a little more complicated or longer than just a direct flight from Malta to Vienna or Frankfurt or Barcelona.
Getting to Namibia was a good example, as if I simply put Malta as our origination point and Namibia as the destination in Skyscanner, even the cheapest fare that was returned was pretty damn expensive and close to €2,000 per person.
A little legwork showed that Frankfurt and Heathrow are common European hubs for flights to South Africa and Namibia, and flights from Frankfurt-Namibia were a much more reasonable €1,000 per person.
Poked around a little more and found round-trip fares to get is to Frankfurt a day before our flight to Namibia for €150/person roundtrip, so even with extra hotel and food costs we still saved about €600 by booking the flight in two legs, instead of just telling Skyscanner to do it all in one fell swoop.
I’ll often just play around on Skyscanner as far as different combos, especially if I know one common leg of the trip, such as that we can get cheap one-way flights on Ryanair to Dublin. So if I’m looking for a flight from Malta to the US, I just start checking flights from Dublin, as it’s almost always cheaper that way than searching for the same trip from Malta to the US (even if the flights don’t align perfectly and we have to spend a night in Dublin).