I have to admit that I enjoy boring my friends with my latest exploits of finding low fares. I hate paying top fare for anything! What I enjoy more is when my friends use these tips to score their own low fares!
- Subscribe to email alerts for airlines and travel companies
- Watch for new cities – when an airline starts a new service, often there is a flurry of discounting not just from that carrier but their competitors. Jumping in on a new routing can save cash!
- Don’t use Expedia and Orbitz automatically – these are great sites but not always the best for the cheapest fare. They are only one weapon in my lower fares arsenal. My first search point is Kayak.com followed by Skyscanner, then I use Expedia, Orbitz and Zuji. The worst place is going first to your airlines website. I tend to rarely use Google flights or Hipmunk.
- Book in advance – there are all sorts of theories about when you should book advance but my theory is I book ahead the soonest I know that I won’t be changing your plans! I don’t like paying flight change fees.
- Be date flexible – one day can make a difference of hundreds of dollars. The more people want to travel at a particular period, the higher the fares. I look During peak holiday periods, I try to go a day earlier and/or come back a day later. Taking that extra time off, avoids the nightmares of peak last minute flights and saves me money. NB Tuesday and Wednesday fares are invariably cheaper than Mondays and Fridays.
- Check different classes - believe it or not, I have found business class fares for less than coach/economy fares
- Check if your fare is upgradeable or not upgradeable: I actually have paid more on some sectors, knowing there is a definite upgrade seat available. If I get into Business or First for a few dollars more than economy, I am winning. NB: make sure the upgrade is a definite by checking with the airline before shelling out the cash
- Be destination flexible - I am currently planning a multi city Europe trip from Bangkok so compared the fares for a range of cities. I had my heart set on flying into London but thanks to the Kayak Explore function found a flight into Amsterdam was $238 cheaper. For two of us that saves $476! It just means changing the order of our planned Europe schedule slightly and a longer stop in the Emirates lounge in Dubai! Kayak Explore allows you to enter your departure city and timing of travel (by exact date, whole month or season) and displays key destinations and fares on a map. You can select the destination that interests you and find airfare details. Google flights has a similar tool.I am also planning a Berlin trip. I found a flight into Hamburg which saved me $400. Hamburg to Berlin is a very fast train ride which will cost me $78. The chance to add one night in Hamburg to my schedule is a pleasant diversion and I save $300 .
- Look at “splitting tickets” – a friend of mine booked Australia to Paris roundtrip for $2300. A few strokes of my keyboard, I found the same seats on the same flights on the same airlines for $1536. How did I do it? Her flight connected in Bangkok. By booking a round trip from Australia to Bangkok and then a second roundtrip from Bangkok to Paris, I managed to find a saving of $764!Another friend of mine wanted to add a single South American city and one more European stop to his round the world ticket. I suggested buying a round trip from LA to South America and taking the train in Europe. Saving? $2407!For the even more daring (and only if you are definitely not traveling with luggage and its a one way ticket), check out fares which go beyond your destination but include your destination as a stop. For example, I wanted to fly from Costa Rica to Dallas. Booking a flight to Los Angeles via Dallas saved me $300. I simply walked off the aeroplane at Dallas and cancelled the rest of the ticket.
- Be airline flexible – while a high priority of mine is to maintain my premier status with my preferred airlines, when push comes to shove, I will choose a cheaper fare! I check out partner airline deals when my preferred carrier’s fares are too high. For example, I look at One World alternatives such as British Airways who offers great sale prices to selected destinations, Cathay Pacific which has some good value deals across Asia and Air Berlin in Europe.
- Be Sensible One friend of mine found a “steal” of an airfare with China Southern which involved two flight changes. After a 30 hour horror flight which included an uncomfortable night sleeping on an airport chair, she realised the discomfort was not worth the money she had saved. If you save money on an air fare to spend it on an expensive airport hotel somewhere you don’t want to be, you are not winning.
- Add up all the costs. You may save $50 on an airfare and find that the airline you have chosen charges $25 to choose a seat and $25 for a bag. The on-line agent you are using may charge an on-line booking fee and/or a credit card fee. Sometimes your “bargain” can end up costing you more. I always double-check before I hit that confirm button.
Any other tips that have worked for you?