Frequent fliers are getting increasingly savvy at finding the best ways to score cheap flights, and in some cases this in part because they’ve worked out some of the games that certain airlines play in order to bump up fares. Here are some ways to find the cheapest flights that you can as efficiently as possible:

If you’re committed to flying with a particular airline, you may have noticed that you’ll often find a great fare on their website but when you go back to actually book it, the fare has suddenly jumped by $50 or more. This is because some airline sites use cookies to identify the flight you chose, then bump up the price when you come back to check again. I’m not sure whether these airlines are trying to teach us that we should book them first off and not shop around, but it is a super frustrating practice. There are two ways to get around this: 1) Open an incognito window in your browser and search for flights from there so that the airline has no record of you searching the flights, and 2) Use a search site that lets you find the cheapest fare in advance before directing you to the airlines actual site to book the flight. My favourite site for doing this is Skyscanner which lets you search by airline and various other useful criteria.

One very clever way to book cheap flights is to use the site which allows you to save up to 40% on flights by booking a ticket that is routed through your particular destination and then ditching the last leg of your ticket. The reason this will give you a cheaper flight is that airlines need to fill planes, so will often make it cheaper to fly to a less popular destination than to a popular hub (so booking a flight from Vancouver to Thunder Bay may well be cheaper than a flight from Vancouver to Toronto, even though the Thunder Bay flight is routed through there). The caveat is that you can only travel with hand-luggage when you do this, and the airlines don’t like it – in fact both United Airlines and Orbitz travel site have sued Skiplagged for promoting this as it violates the terms and conditions that you agree to when booking a ticket. The site is worth checking out though, and then deciding whether you want to play this game to score a much cheaper flight.

Getting creative with bookings can also help you score better deals.

Try looking at smaller airports in your desired destination, such as Abbotsford instead of Vancouver International Airport, or Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport instead of Pearson International Airport, as you may be pleasantly surprised to find that cab fares or shuttle buses into the city from those smaller airports are the same price so you can save significantly (you can walk into Toronto from Billy Bishop after catching a free 90 second ferry ride).

What day you choose to book your flights on matters too, with the cheapest day being Tuesdays 50-100 days before you actually take your flight. Flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday often yields the cheapest flights, and flying in the day before then scoring a night at a cheap airport hotel can help you save cash and be fully refreshed for the start of your vacation or work trip too.

Flying into one city and out of another may also yield you a cheaper trip – this is especially true if flying to a European destination where flights between countries can be ridiculously cheap on carriers such as Ryan Air or British Midland (don’t expect the best customer service though).

In summary, if you’re willing to do a little searching before actually booking your flights, you can score great deals, and getting them feels pretty satisfying too.