Today’s post is a guest post written by Jess of Tripelio.
Air travel is expensive. A friend recently told me how she had to spend nearly $1,000 on a flight overseas, which easily beat out any other vacation expenses. That is money that you could be spending on delicious cuisine or a better hotel. You can even put some of that money away to prepare for your next trip!
There are tools to get you the best flight deals, and they are easier than they initially seem. The investment of time and money will make up for itself in one trip.
Here are five great ways for you to find a better airline deal for your next trip:
1. Use Conglomerate Search Engines
You don’t need to search each and every airline individually. You’d probably wear yourself thin and miss a few great deals. All you need to do is check a couple of conglomerate search engines designed specifically to comb through all of the airlines using your search parameters. Most of them will even organize the results to your liking, filtering the flights by price, number of connections, or airline.
Two excellent options are Skyscanner and Momondo. Double check your findings and go to the airline website once you find the information you are looking for. Think of these search engines as a research tool instead of a broker.
2. Use a VPN to Search Different Locations
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is another fantastic tool to look for better deals online.
This is why it works: airlines use regional pricing to target customers in specific regions, so the exact same flight from Boston to Los Angeles might cost $200 more for someone in Massachusetts than for someone in New York.
A VPN will connect you to an offsite server using an encrypted connection, letting you appear to be anywhere you want online. This means that you can check the regional pricing from wherever the VPN has a server placed, as the airline will think you live there. A VPN can often save you a couple hundred dollars in airfares.
The VPN will also serve you exceptionally well once you are halfway across the world, where You may run into regional restrictions and government censorship. A VPN will get you around these problems by virtue of a masked IP address. As a perfect example, people commonly use VPN to get by the regional restrictions Netflix puts up.
3. Fare Alerts, Sales and Deals
Timing is everything. A $1,000 ticket today can be $750 tomorrow, and often you have no idea what’s coming. It’s not entirely luck though; you can play the game to save a great deal of money.
The first thing you should do is sign up for fare alerts. That way you don’t have to check every day and waste your valuable time hoping for a better deal. When there’s a deal, you’ll get an email. Some sites like Skyscanner and Kayak will even allow you to only get notifications once the price is low enough, preventing inbox overflow.
Similarly, you should try to keep an eye out for special sales and deals you can utilize. Newsletters and online flyers can help, and don’t forget about rewards programs and frequent flyer miles.
Make sure to know what price you’d be happy with and only buy at or below that price. Research pricing trends with websites such as Fare Detective, Hopper, and Google Flights. Skyscanner also has a feature that allows you to see the cheapest time to fly, which you can access through the depart/return date fields on the search form by choosing the “whole month” tab instead of the “specific date” tab. If you think the price might drop soon, then hold off on buying your tickets.
4. Minimize Your Luggage so You Can Choose Any Airline
Depending on the airline, you might only get one checked bag on your flight (or even none). Baggage fees can easily make a great deal into an average one, so it is important to take note of the options available to you when it comes to luggage. Naturally, most of the cheaper tickets won’t give you many included bags.
Generally, you will want to minimize your luggage as best you can to keep your options open. Learn how to fit all of your items into a single bag or two. It’s okay to wear the same jacket more than once on a trip. Be aware that it might just be cheaper to buy something new after you travel than pay to bring it along with you. Try to think outside the luggage-shaped box.
5. Hidden-City Ticketing
Let’s imagine someone trying to get to Chicago. The direct flight is $500, but there is another flight heading to New York for $400 that just happens to have a layover in Chicago. What’s stopping you from just staying in Chicago and saving the extra $100?
This is hidden-city ticketing, a method of air travel that takes advantages of stops, layovers and connecting flights.
Check for clauses in your airline agreements preventing this kind of trick beforehand so you don’t have to deal with any ramifications, but otherwise you should absolutely look into this online. Skiplagged is one website that can help you find these tickets.
A combination of some or all of these methods will certainly yield you the best results, so do experiment to see which ones fit best with your planning strategies and lifestyle.
Do you know of any other ways that someone can find a better deal for their next flight? Do you have any experience with any of the methods listed above?
Jess is a lifelong traveler and frequent blogger who likes to focus on technology topics that help out fellow travelers. She is excited to share her experiences with as many readers as possible and hopes that you’ll be able to save money on your next flight.