Flexibility goes a long way when you’re trying to save money on travel expenses. I’m not an expert when it comes to airfare booking, but I managed to save $230 on this trip — just by having flexible travel dates and considering modes of travel other than flying.
The husband needed to travel from Jakarta to Montreal. (For reasons that would be too boring to explain here, I didn’t join him on this trip.) He didn’t care about the date or the route, so we simply searched for the cheapest way to get from A to B.
We started by looking at direct flights on Skyscanner…
…which is an airfare comparison search engine that shows prices for multiple airlines at once.
We had a two-week window during which he could make the one-way trip.
We had to enter a date to start a search, so we used a random date. Once the search results came up, we clicked the little “Flexible?” button and Skyscanner showed us the airfares over a few weeks. We chose the cheapest date and were shown a new set of search results.
The cheapest direct fare from Jakarta to Montreal during our two-week window cost $1,087.
(If you have flexible travel dates but don’t want to take any detours, this would be a nice option. You may be able to find a better deal by searching on the airlines’ websites or other travel booking websites, such as Kayak or Orbitz.)
Next, we looked at nearby cities.
Option 1: Burlington, Vermont, is really close to Montreal.
After a quick search, I found that the cheapest way to get from Burlington to Montreal was by Greyhound bus. The 2.5-hour trip cost $23.
But after jumping back into Skyscanner, I found that, at $1,218, the cheapest Jakarta-Burlington flight was more expensive than the direct Jakarta-Montreal flight.
$1,218 (Jakarta – Burlington) + $23 (Burlington – Montreal) = $1,241 ($154 more expensive than direct flight)
This was obviously a no-go.
Option 2: New York is pretty close to Montreal too.
This time, I searched on Skyscanner first and found the super-cheap fare of $835.
I then found a train route from New York to Montreal that cost $65.
This was the cheapest option so far! I was getting excited.
$835 (Jakarta – New York City) + $65 (New York City – Montreal by rail) = $900 total ($187 cheaper than direct flight)
Not only was this cheaper by almost $200, it would also give the husband the chance to visit New York City. Plus, this train ride was supposedly more comfortable and more scenic than a plane ride.
Too bad the train only allowed one small carry-on baggage and he had quite a lot of stuff, so we looked at Greyhound again. It was just an $8 difference from the rail option, but annoyingly, it was neither comfortable nor scenic.
We were pretty happy with this price, but remember the little “Flexible?” link on Skyscanner? I hadn’t played with that button yet for this Jakarta-New York City route. When I did, I got a nice surprise.
$784 (Jakarta – New York City) + $73 (New York City – Montreal) = $857 total ($230 cheaper than a direct flight)
Score! We saved $230 on that trip, which was about 21% of the original price estimate of $1,087 for a direct flight.
How did it go?
The husband ended up staying for one week in NYC, which was a great experience in itself. The airfare savings helped cover his expenses there.
This was a great solution because he wasn’t in a rush and would actually prefer taking the scenic route. Admittedly, the journey was long and Kuwait Airlines was apparently the worst he’s ever flown, but it was worth the trouble — it was like being paid to visit NYC!
Need flight booking tips?
Read these posts:
- Quick Trip Booking: 3 Easy Steps to Finding Travel Deals — when you know when, where and how you want to go
- How to Take Advantage of Flexibility in Flight Booking — when you have some flexibility
- 15 Commandments of Flying Budget Airlines — when you just want a cheap discount airfare
Images: 1. Rhys A. (CC BY 2.0 License)