The Ultimate Guide to finding cheap flights to Madrid

The Ultimate Guide to finding cheap flights to Madrid

Why should you pay more for your plane tickets to Madrid?

The cost of the flight and the accommodation will probably be the highest expenses on your trip to Madrid. Therefore, you should follow these easy steps to find cheap flights to Madrid and make the most of your travel budget.

Consider that in case you are traveling to Madrid with family, savings can multiply by 3 or 4.

  • Anticipation is essential to book the flight and accommodation. It guarantees a wider offer and availability, as well as lower prices most of the time.

I usually purchase my plane tickets at least three months before my departure date. I have noticed along these last years that the closer the date the higher the price.

Finding last-minute bargains is almost impossible if you have fixed dates, so you need to anticipate and make a proper follow-up.

How to Find Cheap Flights to Madrid

Skyscanner, the best travel search engine

Skyscanner.com is one of the most popular and recognized travel search engines since 2003.

The website interface is really easy to use and is extremely effective to score cheap flights to Madrid.

I always use Skyscanner, as I don’t want to pay more than necessary for my plane tickets. It helps me to make the most of my travel budget.

Skyscanner provides you with all the information necessary to compare the rates of more than 1,200 travel companies, including the low-cost ones.

But it’s just a search engine. The final reservation of your flight to Madrid will be made directly with the airline or travel provider offering the rate as well as any subsequent amendments (change of name, dates, etc.).

  • Before you book your flight to Madrid, you can see how previous travelers have rated their booking experience with the different airlines and other online travel agents.
Wing of the plane flying to Madrid at sunset

Skyscanner Quality Rating Score

As most times the price is not the most important factor in your vacations, this is priceless information which should help you with your booking. I usually prefer to pay a few more dollars to make the booking with the best-rated airline or agency. The highest score a provider can get is 5 stars.

You can read here how the Skyscanner Quality Rating Score works. It takes into account the price accuracy, ease of booking, transparency around added fees, customer service and any other post-booking issues.

The scorings are unbiased and transparent, and they are calculated based on the feedback received in the last 3 months, in order to ensure that the ratings are up-to-date.

Be aware of extra fees!

It is also interesting to consider each airline’s extra charges and fees when comparing two similarly priced flights from different airlines or agencies.

These additional expenses could increase significantly the final price. For example, one of them could allow a free checked bag per passenger while the other doesn’t. 

You can easily check in Skyscanner the airline fees index.

I like the Skyscanner feature to filter the “greener flights”, which allows you to search for just flights with lower CO2 emissions (when they are available). Sustainable travel is growing every day.

Skyscanner offers a greener choice in your flights to Madrid Spain

How much does it cost a plane ticket to Madrid?

The prices of the flights to Madrid fluctuate throughout the year. Although it’s commonly believed that there are some months which are usually cheaper than others, the final price also depends on the origin country, the number of stops, and the departure days and times.

There are many studies, most of them contradicting each other. I can more or less agree with the fact that for international flights, most times:

  • The optimal anticipation to book the flight is 4 months before your departure date.
  • Mondays and Tuesdays are the best days to purchase a cheap plane ticket.
  • Tuesdays are the cheapest days to fly.
  • Autumn and winter (except Christmas times) are the cheapest seasons to fly.
  • Early in the morning (6 a.m.) is the best time to book a cheap flight.
  • There can be huge savings in a one-stop flight compared to direct flights.
  • The use of nearby airports is advisable if the saving in price is worth it.

I have made an analysis using Skyscanner, so you can have an idea of the price of a flight to Madrid. This research has been done in October 2019.

  • $250-$350 for a round-trip flight from New York to Madrid, non-stop, in low season (October-May). In peak season $350-$450.
  • A round trip from London to Madrid would cost $50-$60 and $80-$90 in low and peak seasons respectively.
  • $600-$750 for a round-trip flight from Toronto to Madrid. During the peak season, you will probably have to make 1 stop to get this price.
  • A round trip from Berlin to Madrid would cost $50-$70 and $90-$110 in low and peak seasons respectively.

Search for your flight now in Skyscanner to get the best prices:

Adolfo Suarez Madrid - Barajas airport in Madrid

Madrid airport

Madrid international airport is Adolfo Suarez – Madrid Barajas (MAD). It is located in the northeast of Madrid, only 12 kilometers from Madrid city center.

You can easily go from the airport to Madrid city center using public transport.

  • Other international airports in Spain are quite far away from Madrid.
    In my opinion, the possible saving in a plane ticket derived from flying to a nearby airport does not compensate for the additional cost to get to Madrid from these cities and the waste of time involved.

Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas has four passenger terminals. It is really easy to move between terminals with the free shuttle bus which connects T1, T2, T3 and T4 terminals from the outside.  It can be time-consuming though, so take this into account in case you have a connecting flight.

T4 also connects with a satellite terminal (T4S) through an automatic underground train in just 3 minutes. The satellite building T4S is reserved for all international flights outside the Schengen Area.

  • The airport offers free internet access via Wifi for an unlimited time. The access points are located throughout the whole terminal T4/T4S and at the boarding and restaurant areas and VIP lounges of the terminals T1, T2, and T3.
    Connect your device to the wireless network “Airport Free Wifi AENA”, open the web browser and follow the instructions to choose the requested sponsored service (free) or Premium services.

Step-by-Step guide to find cheap flights to Madrid

Ready to find the best offers of flights to Madrid? Let´s start!

  • Open an Incognito Mode window in your browser.

There is a common belief that the price of a flight rises when you check it several times. The reason would be that the airline or agency understands that you are quite interested and you will finally purchase the ticket even at a higher price.

I find this reasoning quite logical. So, just in case, I always use the incognito mode.

It is fair to say for your relief that Skyscanner assures that they never use your data to bump up prices or artificially create demand.

  • Enter Skyscanner.com
  • Type in your departure city or airport in the field “From”.

For cities with more than one airport I recommend to include the name of the city and select the option “Any”, instead of a specific airport. This way Skyscanner will search for the cheapest flight in all the airports.

I recommend you to also select the option of “Add nearby airports” which appears below the field “From”. 

The airports have different overheads, and you can save money by choosing a different airport. The final saving in the cost of the flight can compensate for the fact of departing from an airport a little further from home. 

If in the end you want to exclude some of the airports for whichever reason, you will be able to do it later on the search results page.

Do not choose the option of “non-stop flights only” unless you are totally sure that you will travel in a direct flight no matter the additional cost. One stop can sometimes be reasonable depending on the saving. 

Besides, you can also make this filter on the next screen, so don´t flag it for the moment.

In the image you can see that in my example I have chosen New York (Any).

Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights to Madrid
  • In the destination field (“To”), type “MAD”, this is the code of the Adolfo Suarez Madrid -Barajas airport in Spain.

In this case, do not select “add nearby airports” under the field “To”. As I have commented before, other international airports in Spain are quite far away from Madrid.

  • Include the cabin class and the number of travelers.

In my example, I have selected just 1 adult, economy class.

  • Pay special attention to the departure and return dates.

In case your travel dates are fixed just mark the specific dates in the calendar which appears when clicking on the departure and return dates.

If, on the contrary, you have some flexibility I recommend you to select the option “whole month” in the top right corner of the calendar which appears when clicking on the departure and return dates.

Now you can select the specific month you are planning to travel or “Cheapest month” if you have even more flexibility in dates.

In both cases, a calendar will appear with a list of flight prices, by day, during that month. On the left, you will see the price of the outbound flight and on the right, you will see the inbound.

Calendar with the prices of the cheapest flights to Madrid

You will be able to see exactly which days are low-priced. Daily prices under each calendar date are colored in green (most affordable), yellow (moderately-priced) and red (over the average).

  • Take into account that when you click on this calendar on a day of departure, the price of the return can change, both up or down.
    Therefore, you need to invest some time to try different options and find the cheapest flight to Madrid.

You’re not confined to the previously selected month, the blue arrows allow you to check other months.

At the top of the graphic, you can also select the Chart view, in case you find it simpler.

Again, you can also filter in this screen by the option of non-stop flights only. My recommendation is to skip it again.

Summarizing, if you have flexibility with dates use the whole month view to fetch affordable flights to Madrid.

In my example, I have used the “cheapest month” option, in this case, February. The most affordable price is from 5 to 14 February from $215.

  • You need to be aware that the prices shown in the calendar are just approximations calculated by Skyscanner.

Click now on “Show flights”, in the lower part of the screen, to check the actual prices. Based on my experience, I have usually found that the actual ones are slightly over the approximation.

In the example, you can see that the actual price is $259.

Results of a search in Skyscanner with the cheapest flight to Madrid
  • When pressing “Show flights”, Skyscanner will search for the actual prices of the flights for a few seconds.

In the top right part of the screen, you will be able to sort the results by the best, cheapest, fastest or the departure times.

On the left, you can make additional filters, excluding some results depending on the number of stops, departure times, trip duration, and your favorite airlines and airports.

  • For me, the number of stops and trip duration are the most important filters.
    For example, I am fine with one-stop of 2-3 hours, but I would never purchase a flight from New York to Madrid with more than 1 stop and duration over 15 hours.

Also, the stop should not be too tight to avoid possible problems with your connecting flight in case there is a delay, or there will not be enough time for your luggage to change the plane and it will arrive in another moment later than you.

If you click on the “Select” button of the flight you are interested in, and you unfold the blue arrow on the right you will see the number of hours for every stop.

In the example, the cheapest round-trip flight from New York to Madrid has a duration of 7 hours, non-stop, and costs $259.

Details of the duration and stops of the cheapest flight to Madrid
  • Purchase now the plane tickets to Madrid.

In the “Book your ticket” section, click again on “Select” for the agency price you have chosen and Skyscanner will search if the rate is still available. 

You will be redirected to the provider (airline or agency) offering that price to finish with the booking. The steps associated with the final booking are different for every agency or provider but they always are very simple.

As I explained before, Skyscanner is just an intermediary. The rest of the process regarding, for example, the check-in, you will do it through the airline or agency which has sold the ticket.

Should you purchase your plane tickets now?

Most times the best option is to purchase the tickets now in order to avoid possible price increases.

  • What about waiting for a last-minute deal of flights to Madrid?

Based on all my trips, I can say that, in general, I have achieved better prices when I have purchased my tickets in advance.

When I have bought the flights just a few days before departure I have usually found that the prices have not decreased. On the contrary, prices have risen, sometimes significantly, making me pay an extra cost for the ticket and reducing my travel budget.

  • According to the research performed by Skyscanner, the purchase of a last-minute ticket can imply a mark-up of 45%.

It is impossible to predict with full certainty how will be the evolution of the price.

When I start to chase for plane tickets, I try to find out which price would be a bargain, a good price and a high price taking a look at the prices of different months in Skyscanner.

In the example I can see that, although the cheapest month is February, as a rule, flights were on average $ 400 round-trip. As these are not actual prices but estimations of Skyscanner, I always sum like 15% more.

Now that I have a reference price, I compare it with the actual prices for the actual dates of my trip. 

If the prices are below the reference, I execute the purchase immediately. I could save a few dollars if I wait, but I protect myself from probable price increases as the departure date gets closer.

If the price is over the reference price, I usually make a follow up through the Skyscanner alerts for a couple of weeks, to see the evolution of the price. 

Some studies reveal that, generally speaking, Mondays and Tuesdays are good days to purchase cheap plane tickets.

Use the last-minute offers of Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Madrid

Final tip: Set up Price Alerts

  • You can set up the free Skyscanner’s Price Alerts to be notified of the changes in the price of the flights you are searching for and get the most for your money and from your trip.

You can see this feature in the top left corner of the screen with the results of the flights. Click on the button and a pop-up will ask you to log in or sign up using your email or your Google or Facebook accounts.

When cheap flights to Madrid become available, alerts are delivered to your inbox

When you subscribe to more than one alert, with different days or destinations, you will receive the price updates in just one email. The frequency of the email is daily, or weekly when the travel dates are more than 100 days in the future.

You can modify or cancel the price alerts at any time through the links in the emails received or directly in your Skyscanner account.

Once you have purchased your low-cost flight tickets to Madrid, continue with the next steps of my Madrid travel guide to make the most of your vacations in Madrid, capital of Spain.

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