I wasted three hours of my life—and I should have used fare alerts.

I’d been looking to jet off to Colombia to escape Austin, Texas and its all-encompassing hipster fest that is South By Southwest. I’d been keeping an eye on flights to Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena—over, and over, and over again.

What a waste of time! I ask myself, ‘why didn’t I just set up a fare alert in the first place?’

Emirates A380 at Melbourne Airport
Setting up a fare alert can save you time and stress

Why should I set up fare alerts?

Why spend hours trawling airlines’ websites and frequent flyer forums trying to find the best deal on your flights? Whilst some of us enjoy the chase, even for those who do (like me), signing up for fare alerts on a specific route or for all destinations is a good strategy. It’ll save you time and take some of the guesswork out of the equation.

There are a number of services that travellers in Australia can use to monitor price drops in airfares. They’ll then let you know when the price matches or falls below your target. Alerts are free and you can stop them at anytime.

How to set up fare alerts on Australian airlines

How to set up Qantas fare alerts in the Qantas app

  1. From the home screen of the Qantas app, click on Fare Alert
  2. Input the departure and arrival cities—you can also choose Anywhere as a the arrival city
  3. Choose your travel dates—it can be a range of dates, a specific month or anytime
  4. Either choose a price under which the alert will be triggered, or click Sale fares and there will be an alert whenever fares go on sale
Qantas fare alert

How to set up Qantas fare alerts on the Qantas website

  1. In the search box, input the departure and arrival cities and travel dates
  2. On the results screen, click on Watch this trip
  3. Input your email to receive fare alerts
Qantas fare alert website

You can also subscribe to Qantas’ Red Email newsletter to receive promotions for all destinations.

How to set up Virgin Australia fare alerts

The refreshed Virgin Australia app no longer gives the option of setting up fare alerts, which is a shame. Therefore, you’re left with only one option:

  1. Subscribe to The V-mail newsletter to receive sale fare alerts
Virgin Australia V-Mail signup

Note that your V-mail and Velocity Frequent Flyer logins are different.

How to set up Jetstar fare alerts

  1. On the Jetstar website, enter your departure and arrival airports, as well as your desired travel dates
  2. On the search results page, click on Watch prices
  3. Enter your email address and number of passengers
Jetstar fare alert

You can also subscribe to Jetstar’s sale fares email newsletter.

How to set up Tigerair fare alerts

Like its parent company Virgin Australia, Tigerair doesn’t offer fare alerts through its website or app. That means you’re left with two options:

  1. Subscribe to the tigermail email newsletter to receive sale fare alerts
  2. In the Tigerair app, navigate click on Special Deals in the sidebar and input your departure airport, month (or leave as any) and your maximum price for real-time sale fares
Tigerair sale fares

How to set up fare alerts on any airline

How to set up fare alerts on Adioso

It is very easy to set up a price alert on a flight to a specific airport, country, region or anywhere on Adioso. It’s one of the most flexible, user-friendly aggregate search websites.

  1. Perform a search
  2. Click on the Watch Prices button in the top right-hand corner
Adioso fare alert

How to set up fare alerts on Google Flights

This is my favourite flight search tool as it’s easy-to-use and fast.

  1. Perform a search
  2. Click on Track prices on the left-hand side
Google Flights fare alert

How to set up fare alerts on KAYAK

Alerts on KAYAK can be set up for exact dates, flexible dates or, my favourite, the Top 25 cities around the world or in a specific region.

To create an alert, you have two options, for both of which you’ll need a (free) KAYAK account:

  1. Perform a search and toggle Track prices to On
  2. Go to Notifications in your account and click on Create a Price Alert
KAYAK fare alert

How to set up fare alerts on Skyscanner

It is simple to set up a fare alert on Skyscanner, but you are limited to exact dates and, again, you’ll need an account.

  1. Perform a search
  2. Click on the Get Price Alerts button in the left sidebar
Skyscanner fare alert

More ways to find cheap flights

Whilst there is no hard-and-fast rule for finding the cheapest flight, I might suggest the following:

  • Adjust your departure time: try taking a flight before 6:30/7am or after 7/8pm, as this avoids the peak business travel times
  • Try a different day: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be cheaper days to fly, with Sundays, Mondays and Fridays registering peak travel demand
  • Use alternative airports: smaller airports tend to charge lower fees to airlines, meaning lower fares for travellers, e.g. you could consider Melbourne’s Avalon instead of Tullamarine, the Gold Coast instead of Brisbane, Oakland instead of San Francisco, or Paris’ Orly instead of Charles de Gaulle
  • Break it up: for long-haul travel to Europe, consider starting your itinerary from a big Asian hub such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong and buying an AirAsia, Jetstar or Scoot ticket from Australia to Asia
Jetstar A321 exterior shot
Flying a low-cost airline to Asia and then buying a separate ticket to Europe can reduce your travel costs—but will probably increase your travel time

Summing up

Fare alerts are very useful in saving time and stress when searching for Economy Class tickets.

You can set them up for specific airlines, or for any airline through an Online Travel Agent (OTA) like Skyscanner. If you use an OTA, you will get more results, including multiple airlines and dates.

Remember that this is a free service and can be switched off anytime!

How do you find cheap flights? Let us know in the comments below.

How to use fare alerts to save time when searching for cheap flights was last modified: January 21st, 2020 by Matt Moffitt