By Joseph Ryan
Have you ever been looking at a flight that you’re not quite ready to book, and every time you go back to check the price it gets higher and higher?
Your trying your best to be a savvy money saver. But it seems to be working against you!
People that succeed with travelling on a budget do two things very well:
First, they identify booking techniques that get them results.
Second, they put 100% of their resources into executing those techniques. But you’re probably wondering: “How do I find booking strategies that actually work?”. Well today I’m going to make it easy for you. All you need to do is carve out a few minutes of your day and tackle 2-3 of the 15 flight booking methods below.
If you want to know the best days to book on and fly on, how far in advance to book, your in the right place. I’ll even teach you the Django Technique and the S7 Code Cheat.
Keep your searches top secret for super savings (Save money in 2 seconds flat)
It happens to me all the time, I go to book a flight, find a great price but hesitate. Mostly because I want to have a look around other sites to compare options before I commit.
You’re not crazy for thinking that a flight price has changed after searching it a few times. Based on the cookies in your browser (little bits of data websites can track), flight prices do increase when a particular route is repeatedly searched, as the site wants to scare you into booking the flight quickly before prices get even higher. Increasing your urgency to buy and punishing you for trying to get a good deal. In this section I will teach you how to stop it happening to you.
Why does this happen?
But what is a cookie?
A cookie is a small file that is downloaded from a site when you visit it. Cookies are typically used to manage items in your shopping cart, personalise your experience by offering relevant content, and track the pages visited over time.
Generally speaking, this isn’t a big deal.
Cookies actually improve the customer experience on most sites. Prices on most sites are static. They won’t change regardless of how often you check them.
But airfares are different.
How Airlines Abuse Your Search History
When you search a specific route, the cookie stores the details. It also remembers the dates and number of passengers. What this means is that their server can see if a specific route is in high demand (by you). When something is in demand, the price will increase.
We’ve run tests on tickets that we eventually purchased and it remained true almost each time:
Ticket Warning: The more you search a route, the more the price increases.
Don’t let inflated ticket prices keep you from traveling or make you pay over the odds.
Little bits of data airlines and comparison sites use to push up the price? Don’t believe it?
See our little experiment:
After a couple of days checking prices we are offered this price, that kept rising:
Just seconds later, using an incognito browser:
Thats a massive saving of $93 for simply using an incognito browser and not letting the websites see your browsing history!
How you can get around this is by using an incognito browser when searching for flights. This stops the website seeing your cookies, what you have already looked at and searched, so they can’t go “Oooh, this guy KEEPS checking flights to Barbados, he must REALLY want to go…Lets put the price up because we know how keen he is”.
Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest prices.
If your using:
- Google Chrome or Safari, incognito is enabled by hitting Command (or “Control” if using PC), Shift, “N”. Note: if you’re using an older version of OS X, open Safari then click “Safari” in the menu bar, and select “Private Browsing”.
- Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “P”. This will open a new browser window where your information is not tracked, thus not inflating prices as you search.
Your cookies are reset each time you re-open an incognito window. So if you want to start with a clean slate for each flight search (so your previous searches aren’t “remembered”, potentially inflating costs), close all your incognito windows, open a new one, and then perform your flight search.
Search over 1,000 flight combinations in under 3 minutes to get the best price on the market.
With the wonders of the internet, we are all much more savvy when it comes to shopping and finding bargains online. Take a look at the rise of Ebay and Amazon.
Different comparison sites search different airlines and have massively different features, so check at least two.
Our Top Pick Flight Comparison Sites For You
All allow you to search by flight class and include travel brokers, charter airlines and budget airlines. We argue about what is “the best” comparison site, so here’s our top 3.
- Kayak for range, speed & filtering. It allows you to filter options based on credit/debit card fees and whether or not you want to check in bags so you can compare costs more accurately. It also looks for the cheapest inbound and outbound flights and doesn’t automatically pair both legs with the same airline to really maximise savings both ways!
- Skyscanner for the very cheapest time to fly. Skyscanner gives you fare options spread over a month to find exactly when’s cheapest. It has particularly strong coverage of budget flights, searching over 1,000 airlines in total. Pretty impressive right?
- Momondo for flight data. Momondo is a metadata search engine and works similarly to the likes of Skyscanner. However, its standout feature is the ‘Flight Insight’ data it gives you on some routes. It helps pinpoint when they recommend to book, which day to fly and even which airport’s cheapest for that specific flight.
When you’re ready to book, don’t assume one of these is best and will always come up cheapest – try the other 2 to see if you can beat it.
Want to know how many days before departure to book for the cheapest flights? Check out our Perfect time to book flights section
Perfect your timing to slash costs – We tell youexactly how many days in advance is the perfect time to book
When looking for cheap flight tickets, timing is absolutely crucial.
Flights should generally be booked early. Business folk will pay top dollar at the last minute, so prices soar.
Unless you prefer sticking with the same airline and you’re holding out for a sale you know is coming up, it’s usually best to book as early as you can.
The latest research from the comparison site Momondo found it’s generally best to book 53 days ahead, and that booking then is on average 26% cheaper than booking on the day of departure. The last cheap booking date varies by destination, so you can use Momondo’s ‘Flight Insight’ tab on many routes to see the data for the flight you want:
- When we looked at a London-Sydney return, booking 54 days ahead was £122 cheaper.
- A flight from London to Lisbon, when booked 52 days in advance, costs on average £209 -compared to the average price of £287.
- Flights from London to Dubai are cheapest 51 days ahead of travel, when it will cost £458 – 20% less than the average fare of £551.
Momondo’s figures are based on the prices quoted in their flight searches, and this is an average across all routes so take ’53 days in advance is the perfect day to book’ info with a pinch of salt, as your route might vary from this. As per our example, London-Sydney it was 54 days (only 1 day off).
If in doubt book early. Hacks you can use when booking early.
Momondo also published research on the cheapest days and time to fly, if saving a further 20% is your thing see: Best days to fly on
Hack the airline data to find the best days to fly on for mega savings (or just read this)
Knowing exactly when to book a flight to get the cheapest fare is awesome. That magical window where prices are at their lowest…
But which day is it? One flight comparison site, which analysed 7.5 billion airfares on the top 100 routes worldwide, has found the answer.
Momondo also published research on the cheapest days and time to fly, and found that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and evenings (after 6pm) are generally the cheapest time to fly, while Saturdays are the most expensive. If you can be flexible, it’s worth checking prices on different days and at different times to see if you can cut the cost further.
Avoid flying on Fridays and Sundays. Most travellers want to leave on a Friday so they can make the most of the weekend, and Sunday is a popular day to return because people need to be at work by Monday. This demand drives up the cost.
Cheaper fares also depend on the time of the flight. Evening departures between 6pm and midnight are typically cheaper, while Tuesday is generally the cheapest day to fly.
As for the most expensive, fares are at their most costly three days before departure, while Friday is routinely the most expensive day to take to the air. It is also suggested that travellers should avoid afternoon flights if they are looking to save money.
“In general, it pays to book flights two months in advance,” says momondo spokesman Lasse Skole Hansen.
Forget #livelikealocal – Try #FLYLIKEALOCAL (We saved a whopping 39% and show step by step how you can too)
Airfare prices often change minute to minute, so its no wonder you can’t understand airline pricing.
Your not the only one.
But you do now know some plane tickets can rise in price the more you search them and you’ve learnt how to avoid that.
But did you know your price could go up or down depending where you booked your flight? And I’m not talking about which booking site you use.
Depending on where you buy them or, even better, where you appear to buy them from can make dramatic savings.
Do you want to see how I leverage foreign currencies and points-of-sale for your advantage.
For reasons I never quite understood, every time I tried to book a domestic flight in another country, the prices were always exorbitant. Once I was in Bangkok, that same flight that was once $300 would fall to $30 almost unexplainably. This phenomenon is because a ticket’s point-of-sale, the place where a retail transaction is completed, can affect the price of any flight with an international component.
But your buying your tickets online?
Most people don’t know there is a simple trick for “changing” your location to get a cheaper flight on an airline’s website; it’s how I managed to pay $373 for a flight from New York to Colombia instead of $550+.
You can use it for normal international flights, but it often works best when you’re buying domestic flights in another country or on the return leg from abroad.
We ran a return journey search from Buenos Aires to Cordoba, the two largest cities in Argentina, for 4th August, returning a week later on the 11th August on Kayak.
Unsurprisingly, Kayak sorts the results in order of price. The cheapest flight was on LATAM at £138. In fact, the first 19 results were all with LATAM at £138, with varying times of departure and return on the same days.
If we run the exact same search in Google ITA with London, England as the point-of-sale as you can see in the screenshot below.
Google’s ITA Matrix is simply Google’s software for search flights, pretty neat right? The only downside is you cannot book tickets through them. But don’t let that put you off…keep reading to see how it can save you money.
- Enter your flight departure and arrival airports.
- The dates you wish to fly.
- Enter your current city.
- Click “Search”
You should then see something like this:
Though Kayak actually has the best prices, ITA Matrix has confirmed within £5 the best price.
let’s not stop there.
Instead of using our current city as the point-of-sale (London in this case),
Let’s use Argentina as the point-of-sale (Where the flight will take place).
This can only be searched for in Google ITA Matrix.
So, with the exact same departure and arrival airports, the same dates, only change the point of sale location.
The main difference is we’ll get the price in Argentine Pesos and that’s exactly what we want.
In this new search, the cheapest flight on Aero Lineas is AR$1,694 and the cheapest flight on LAN is also AR$1,694. That of course means absolutely nothing to most people, so let’s convert that over to British Pounds:
The same and best flight now converts to £83.63 when you book in Argentine Peso’s, the local currency.
While the same flight is £138 when booked in my own currency, British Pounds.
In short, you’d be saving £54.37 or $78.87 on the same flight, simply by paying in a different currency.
That’s a whopping 39% discount!
Now the real problem is that we’ve got to find a place to buy this ticket in Argentine Pesos since Google ITA won’t tell us where to go for that. But in this case its given us 2 airlines with the exact same price.
I head directly to the Aerolineas website, select location as Argentina, with “Inglés” language.
Pop in the same dates and airports.
Confirm the dates for departure:
Confirm the dates for the return:
This brings us to the cheaper ITA Matrix price of AR$1,694 for the flight.
Book it and smile.
You saved £54.37 ($78.87) on this booking!
Congratulation, you have learnt how to successfully get mega savings by teleportingyour location!
To save the most money, make sure you pay with a credit or debit card that doesn’t charge you international or travel fee’s.
Even if you don’t have a travel-friendly credit card, it still might be worth it to pay the fees just to pay in pesos.
In this case, the standard foreign transaction fee 3% surcharge would only cost you an extra £2.51 to book the flight. (The exact percentage will vary depending on the terms of the card issuer, but in short, you still come out ahead)
Even after a foreign transaction fee surcharge I’m still £51.86 better off
With a little adjustment, this trick can also be used for purchasing international flights. The most obvious points-of-sales to check for generally include the destination country and the country where the airline is based in.
You could also use this to book 2 one way flights.
Let’s say you want to fly from the US to Hong Kong.
Book the first leg with your location set as USA, and then switch your location to Hong Kong to book the return leg.
Ethnic Travel Agents
The UK and US are a melting pot of different immigrant and ethnic communities, and this can be used to great advantage for a cheap flight booking. Niche travel agents often specialise in finding deals to those communities’ linked countries.
For example, Shepherd’s Bush in London and the surrounding area has some Caribbean specialist tour agents, or buy the Jewish Chronicle, which has firms advertising cheap flights to Israel. You’ve also told us about Chinese travel agent Omega, which has a branch in the London’s Chinatown, as well as Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Don’t forget to check prices elsewhere before you buy to make sure you’re getting a good deal. If you know of a cheap specialist travel agent, please let us know.
Best local budget airlines in different regions:
Take a Break (Stop over when flying long-haul to save you 100’s)
Direct flights are always more convenient, but if you’ve a bit more time you can often cut the cost by stopping over hugely. (Indirect flights sometimes only adds a couple of hours to the journey)
How to save:
In March 2016, we checked return flights from London to 10 popular long-haul destinations in mid-September 2016 and how much you could save by stopping over. The results are in the table below – as a rule, we found the bigger savings were on longer, non-US flights.
To see yourself:
- You can filter by direct and indirect flights, so you can easily compare prices.
How direct vs indirect flights stack up:
This is super easy, and works fantastically on long haul flights.Part 1 (with step by step example):
- Pick a comparison site (We are using Kayak)
- Enter your departure and arrival airports.
- Enter your dates.
- Click “Search”
£783 down from £952. £169 saving right off the bat!
On the left hand side, untick “non-stop” and make sure 1 stop and 2 stops + are both selected.
Kayak will then automatically load up results that match the criteria of having 1 or more stops. As you can see in the table above, this dramatically drops the price for usually just a couple of hours inconvenience.
In this case, 2 hours 25 minutes of waiting around rewards you with an additional saving of £141.
Some pretty hefty savings to be had right? Want to maximise these savings even more?Use our Inception Method
The Inception Method
Seen the movie inception?
A dream within a dream within a dream?
(In the Take a Break section you learnt how to use layovers to make mega savings your next flight booking.)
But it’s not just savings:
The Inception Method gives you a holiday within a holiday.
Spending a few extra days in a stopover city not only gives you a break from flying, it also lets you experience a new place at no extra cost. Whether you fancy trotting around geothermal pools in New Zealand on your way to surf waves on the Gold Coast of Australia or soak up the culture at the Batu Cave in Kuala Lumpur!
How you can book your own mini holiday within a holiday…The Inception Method:
Follow the steps in the Take a Break Technique (It’ll only take 3minutes) but:
- When you search for 1 or more stop flights, jot down the layover locations that appear in the first few results.
- We will use the same example as the Take a Break Method. From London to Sydney. We can see that the big reoccurring layover destinations are Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
- Write the common layover airports down now.
- With Kayak again, select “multi city”. Enter the same departure airport as before with the original departure date. This time set the destination as the layover airport you prefer the sound of. So we picked Kuala Lumpur.
- For the next leg, select from your layover location to your end destination, and set the date a few days later, so you have a chance to enjoy the layover city!
- Now for the final leg, select the end destination to the origin airport, so you can fly all the way back home at the end of your trip.
It should look similar to this, but with your own destinations and dates:
Awesome! You have done a Leonardo DiCaprio. (No, you haven’t finally won an Oscar)
You managed to build a holiday within a holiday, and for just £652! For £131 under the price of £783 you got a couple of days in a completely different city too!
Our favourite Inception Method hotspots:
Reykjavik, flying into Keflavík International Airport (KEF)
The Northern Lights
Anywhere WOW Air flies! The Icelandic airline often have bargains when flying out of their home airport, so wether flying into or out of Europe its worth a stop off here!
Want to fly on the luxury airline Emirates, but pay S7 Airline prices? What?! You don’t know who S7 Airlines are?!
(Use the S7 codeshare trick – buy a seat on the same flight via a partner airline for less…much less)
Walking onto the plane knowing that you paid much less for your seat than everybody else on board is a great feeling.
This is what smart travel is all about.
By being a little craftier with your bookings you can stretch your travel money further.
Booking code share flights is a clever way to save cash.
Here’s how it works:
You have a flight in mind that you want to take on Airline A but the fare is a little more than you’d like to pay. Airline B has a code share arrangement with Airline A but by booking the same flight with Airline B you save a couple hundred bucks.
It doesn’t work for every fare and you have to seek it out but, when you do find them, they’re a great money saver.
If you like flying with a specific airline or know the exact flight you want, ‘codesharing’ could be a way to get a flight with that airline via another one. It’s when airlines buddy up to sell seats on each other’s flights, quite often at a different price.
For example, when we looked in March 2016, we found an American Airlines London to New York return flight in September for £536 if you book via American Airlines. But exactly the same flights booked via american Airline’s partner Finnair cost just £496, saving £40.
Codesharing flights are included in comparison site results, so you’ll find them using the sites above.
You won’t spot them if booking directly with an airline.
It should be clear on the comparison site, eg, if you book with Virgin, but it’s a Delta flight, it should say so.
This works best on popular medium or long-haul routes – simply book via a partner airline to grab a seat on the same plane for less
Here’s a Real World Example:
We wanted to fly from Seattle to Dallas Fort Worth. We had a few options. American, Alaska, Spirit, United and Delta. As you would expect, the prices should be pretty competitive, and therefore cheap.
But this is the airline industry, where different airlines work together.
So for just one second, forget the rival airlines. Will these “teams of airlines” undercut each other?
You can see the two flights highlighted in green? This is the exact same flight, just sold as either American or US Airways.
Same flight, $81 price difference.
The red and orange are again codeshare flights, in both cases flying on US airways will cost you $298 against the cheaper American for only $228.
Again, exact same flight, $70 price difference.
How can you use the codeshare cheat to save big?
By using a third party booking website, I found the exact same flight on a codeshare and had easy pickings when it came to selecting the cheapest flights for us.
Total Cost: $684 for 3 adults.
We saved a total $210 by booking this flight coded as American Airlines instead of US Airways.
Exact same flight.
This is the beauty about booking code share flights! There are often big discrepancies between the airlines in terms of what price you’ll pay. American Airlines might have had a promotion going but US Airways didn’t. Meaning we could snag the seats through American Airlines for a 40% discount!
Tips for Booking Code Share Flights:
- Understand which airlines have code share arrangements with one another. There are two big airline networks – Star Alliance and One World but there are many smaller partnerships direct between airlines. If you want to book a flight on Qantas, a One World alliance airline, always check for the same flight on British Airways. We saved $300 per person last year on a single flight.
- Look at third party booking websites. Some booking site has a preference to show one airline over another meaning they’re more likely to display the code share flight.
- Code share flights often come up when booking connecting airfares.
- You can spot a code share flight by it’s longer flight code, usually four digits. For example, on the route New York JFK to Paris the Air France flight number is AF23 and the Delta code share flight number is DL8601.
- Sometimes the case is reversed and it might be cheaper to book with the operator airline than the code share partner. You might find a flight on a booking website operated through ticketed through Airline B but operated by Airline A. Check on Airline A’s website to see if their flight is cheaper.
Airlines with codeshares:
Beat those insanely high school holiday price hikes with the Easyjet ‘book the wrong date’ trick
Prices fluctuate wildly according to demand – especially during the school holidays.
Yet with Easyjet, we’ve found a clever way to battle price hikes. Its ‘Flexifares’ let you switch dates by a few weeks without paying extra.
It works at any time of year – but it’s particularly useful when prices really take off.
The idea is to book a Flexifare on the same route at a less busy time when flights are cheaper. Do note that restrictions mean you can only move the phantom ticket one week earlier or three weeks later, so you can’t just book any old date.
You’ll usually pay more than a standard flight for a Flexifare ticket, but as you’ll get the flexibility to switch dates, so long as it’s cheaper than the cost of a peak time standard ticket you win.
Plus as an added bonus you’ll also get speedy boarding and one piece of hold luggage (max 20kg) free per person.
Provided there’s capacity, 24 hours after booking you can switch to the dates you originally wanted at no extra charge, possibly saving you £100s. (It’s worth noting Flexifares aren’t available on every flight and are only available 120 days in advance.)
- You select a significantly cheaper flight than the one you want.
- Pay a little extra to upgrade it to flexifare.
- Switch the flight to the dates you really wanted.
- Pocket the savings.
Price drops galore! Get every single price drop. If your flight drops after you book, you could get the difference refunded
Have you ever booked a holiday, only to find the exact same flight on another website for less?
Or bought with a ‘low-cost’ airline, only to watch the price slide down on your ticket after you’ve already paid?
Did you know you can actually do something about it?
While we are all used to sneaky charges levied by airlines, we are less used to payouts – but many airlines offer price promise guarantees, which mean even if you missed out on the cheapest option, you could be refunded the difference.
Despite the budget airline rule of thumb – the earlier you book, the cheaper the fare – EasyJet often adjusts prices nearer departure to get rid of seats that have not been sold.
Thanks to EasyJet’s price promise, if you book a flight through its website and later find the fare has fallen before takeoff, you can claim a credit voucher towards your next flight.
Each leg of the journey is treated separately, so even if one leg goes up and the other down you can still apply for the refund.
This price promise is a little-known secret. It has been running for around five years now, but most people don’t know about it.
The small print:
If you spot that your fare has dropped, get on the phone as quick as you can to the customer service team (0843 104 5000). Forget emails or writing in – you can only claim your credit voucher via the call center.
Claims can only be made while the lower flight price is still on sale, so if you don’t act fast you’ll miss out. You will probably face a tedious queue – try not to let this put you off.
Credit vouchers can only be claimed by the person that made the original booking, but any price refund will cover everyone in the party.
Prices are checked while you are on the phone and you will then be given a reference code to quote against future bookings. Write this down and keep it safe, even if you are told you will get email confirmation.
Vouchers can only be used on bookings made via the call center, rather than online, although you will still qualify for the discounted web rate.
Credit vouchers expire six months from the date of issue, but you can book a flight for any time within a year – easyJet’s only exception to their price promise is if the lower fare is part of a sale.
What we say:
EasyJet offers the best deal in the market, hands down. Admittedly you may have to jump through a few hoops, but the end result is absolutely worth it. If you book with EasyJet, make sure you get into the habit of always checking fares before departure so you can get a refund if seats have fallen in price.
If you find the same one-way or return flight (operated by British Airways) cheaper elsewhere online, once you have made your booking on ba.com, you will be refunded the difference.
The small print:
All claims must be made by midnight on the day of your purchase and you may be asked to send in a screenshot. Claims have to be made using a claim form, which you can find here.
BA are pretty tough on the rules – the cheaper fare quoted must be for the exact same route, with each leg of the trip flown in the same order, for the same dates and flight numbers and for the same type of ticket.
Flights with stop-overs are excluded and the price promise does not apply where the cheaper online fare is a discounted or promotional fare, or forms part of a travel package.
Bookings covering multiple passengers must be submitted as one claim and not separate claims for each passenger.
If the claim meets all the terms and conditions of price promise, a refund for the difference between flights will be credited within 28 days – handy for covering extra holiday costs!
What we say:
Instead of kicking yourself if you find a cheaper deal on your flight, this price promise means you can actually do something about it. But you have to act quickly – if you don’t get your form in by midnight you won’t get a refund.
However, as it is unlikely that you will shop around immediately after having bought your flight, it does seem a little pointless.
There is a slim chance you might have missed a cheaper deal though. So if you buy with BA check a few other sites a couple of hours after buying your flight – just in case.
Virgin has a similar offering to BA – it promises to refund you the difference if you find a cheaper ticket with it on another website.
However, the Virgin price promise only applies to return flights to and from the UK, rather than both single and returns, bought online on the Virgin Atlantic website.
The small print:
The class purchased must be the lowest fare available within the booked class, for example ‘economy’. Any journey where the booking is made up of a section provided by Virgin Atlantic Airways and another by another airline is excluded.
To be eligible for Virgin Atlantic Airway’s price guarantee you must have found a fare on a website other than www.virginatlantic.com for the same Virgin Atlantic Airways return flights as yours, for the same dates, route and number of passengers.
Again, claims can only be made via an online form.
The price guarantee will not apply if the cheaper online fare has been discounted using vouchers, loyalty rewards, frequent flyers miles or any other offers.
You have to supply evidence of the cheaper quote in the form of a print out or an attachment of the fare, together with a copy of the conditions for the cheaper quote.
If the claim meets all the terms and conditions, a refund of the difference between costs will be credited the credit or debit card that was used to pay for the booking within 28 days.
What we say:
Again, this deal is nothing on easyJet’s price promise. Although both Virgin Atlantic and BA offer a cash refund, rather than credit vouchers, their price promise is limited time-wise and really only useful if you haven’t shopped around before buying your ticket.
Ryanair is not currently running a price guarantee scheme.
It’s website says that if it becomes aware at any time of any competitors special offer fare which is lower than Ryanair’s, it will “immediately lower our prices to ensure that we are lower again.”
Unfortunately last year Ryanair withdrew it’s deal, whereby those that found a cheaper equivalent fare with another airline would be refunded ‘double the difference’ by Ryanair.
A Ryanair spokesperson said after the deal was withdrawn that the budget airline was considering re-implementing the scheme.
Robin Kiely said: ‘The continuation of the double difference offer is currently under consideration. However, Ryanair continues to offer passengers the lowest fares with no fuel surcharges guaranteed, across over 1,500 routes, as well as the number one customer service, which is why we’ll carry over 80m passenger this year.’
How you can take advantage:
- If you’ve booked a flight with Easyjet, (or any listed above) check the price afterwards to see if it drops.
- The airline’s little-known price promise guarantees that if you do find the same flight for less after booking, you’ll get the difference back as a credit voucher.
- You’ll need to have booked direct, and you won’t get the difference back if the lower price you’ve found is a sale price.
If your not booking with the airlines above, we have another superb money saving trick in24 Hour $67/£46.39 Discount.
Save on price drops. Monitor your flight for 24 hours after your booking for $67 off
There are flight search engines that offer free cancellation within 24 hours of booking a flight.
This can be a good thing:
Because if you find a better deal or notice that the price of your flight drops within 24 hours of the booking, then you can cancel the original ticket and purchase a new one for a lower price. (Keep in mind that some airlines will actually reimburse you the difference if the price drops, so in this case there is no need to cancel the original flight.)
- The US Department of Transport requires that all domestic and foreign airlines offer a 24-hour free cancellation policy for tickets purchased at least a week in advance of departure
- Over two out of three ticket prices will drop within 24 hours of the original search or booking with an average saving of 14%.
- About one in six times the airfare will drop by at least 20% during the cancellation window.
Booking flights these days is a long and complicated process:
In a recent study Hopper found that the average American spends 12 days searching for airfare before booking.
Much of this time is spent comparing prices as consumers search for the best possible price, but during this time prices rise an average of 5%, leading to an average increase of $15 per ticket.
However, there’s a little-known policy that could protect consumers against increasing prices:
The 24-hour cancellation policy.
The US Department of Transportation (DoT) consumer rule “Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections” (14 CFR 259.5(b)(4), 76 Fed. Reg. 23110, 23166, Apr. 25, 2011) requires that U.S. and foreign air carriers either hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty, for all reservations made seven days or more prior to the flight’s scheduled departure time [http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.dev/files/docs/Notice_24hour_hold_final20130530.pdf].
- Eight of the US’s largest airlines (American, Delta, United, US Airways, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and Frontier) provide a free cancellation within 24 hours of purchase for tickets purchased at least a week in advance of the departure date.
- Five of the airlines (American, Delta, United, Southwest, and Frontier) have no fee even for flights purchased within a week of departure.
- American has the most consumer-friendly policy, allowing consumers to reserve a price for 24 hours without charging them the fare. Passengers can then cancel the reservation within 24 hours (having never been charged), or choose to book the ticket and pay.
The interesting bit:
Hopper analyzed just how useful the cancellation policy is, aiming to ultimately answer the question:
“How often will I find a cheaper price within the 24 hour cancellation window?”
It turns out it’s quite frequent:
- 68% of the over 16 million searches tested dropped in price at some point during the 24 hours.
- 50% of the time, the lowest price seen within 24 hours was at least 5% lower than the original price.
- 35% of the time the price was at least 10% lower.
Given how much prices fluctuate, a savvy, speedy consumer could potentially book, cancel, and rebook repeatedly, using the 24 hour cancellation policy multiple times.
How reliable is this data?The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes about 10 million queries and 1 billion trips per day. The data analyzed over 15,700 flights covering 100 markets over a two month period.
Make the most of the 24 cancellation period:
- Check the cancellation policy before booking.
- Book a flight that your happy is on budget.
- Check back within 24 hours. If theres a saving to be had, cancel then immediately re-book. (You could always book a 2nd ticket before cancelling the first to be extra safe)
Use Split Ticketing to Pay a Fraction of the regular price
It’s easy to search for flights from A to B but don’t assume it’s the cheapest way.
By being a little creative about the route and splitting the ticket, you can slash the cost.
Typically associated with train fares. You can do the same with air travel.
- Lets say your flying from San Francisco to London, chances are theres at least one stop on the way.
- So run through kayak the start and end destinations and see what the stops are.
- Write these down.
- Then try with each leg as a separate flight.
The best way to utilise this is to combine with Airline Error Fares.
- Grab a bargain airfare
- Even when its not ideally from or to where you want to go.
- Get cheap connecting flights.
Or try “open-jaw tickets”
Where you fly into one airport but return to or from another.
Breaking a journey down into multiple tickets can cut costs without altering the route you wanted.
Become Christopher Columbus – Explore new routes and save buku bucks!
When an airline starts flying a new route, they usually have really low prices to help promote it.
To give you some examples:
- Air Canada recently started operating new routes to Panama City, Rio de Janeiro, and Mont Tremblant. Because not many people may be aware of these destinations, the airfare is lower than usual as an introductory offer. Again, you can keep yourself informed of new routes by choosing to receive newsletters.
- Canada’s leading low airfare king, WestJet Late 2015 announced a new route between Canada and London, England from just $199 (£105.57):
- WOW Air launches a $99 fare from Iceland – San Francisco. What’s Icelandic for “Bargain”?
Skuli Mogensen, CEO of WOW air, desperate to make a big impact on the world of air travel is launching service from SFO to Iceland and European countries by around summer 2016 in San Francisco, California, as he talks about his airline. He is currently promoting the WOW Airline not as a low airfare carrier, but an ultra low airline.
The Django Technique
Stories are great, as children they can be used to teach us, and can still do so throughout life.
If your a fan of Quentin Tarantino. You’ll have seen the movie Django Unchained.
It almost personifies supply and demand:
In the movie, Django is separated from his wife and enslaved. He cannot simply try to buy her back, if the owner of his wife knew the exact situation, that she is so “valuable” to him, the price would be extortianate.
Django and his bounty hunter friend devise a plan to minimise attention by trying to purchase a common commodity, a mere mandingo fighter from a collection of 20+, not the irreplaceable love of his life.
So, don your cowboy hat and pick up your pistol. Master misdirection to save more.
Learn The Django Technique:
This sounds strange at first, but airfare prices are not based on logic.
Instead, prices are based on supply and demand, and a route with less demand may be cheaper, even if it’s longer. Likewise, a route that has high supply, like many popular tourist destinations can be cheap.
The Django Technique, is not only frowned upon by the airlines, but they can penalize passengers who do it:
- Per ticketing rules, the second half of a roundtrip ticket can be canceled if a passenger does not complete all legs of the first part of the trip.
- And airlines can also retaliate by voiding rewards, if any, are earned by the passenger.
- But if you follow our rules, you can avoid that.
You want to fly from A to B. Guess what:
Booking A:B:C can cost less than A:B
- If there is popular destination, lots of customers want to fly it. (Think New York, LA, Las Vegas)
- If lots of customers want to fly it, all the airlines want to get in on the action.
- The airlines compete and the price drops.
With me so far?
Many of these flights will have a stopover somewhere, it allows them to service more passengers, sell more tickets, and connect to more destinations, much like your local bus.
The cost of running a flight are fairly fixed; plane, crew, and fuel.
It makes more sense to have a stop at Dallas on the way to LA from Des Moines, rather than putting on a single flight to shuttle 4 passengers from Des Moines to Dallas.
These straight forward economics sometimes lead to a bizarre consequence:
In certain circumstances, airlines charge less for a longer, multi-legged flight than they do for the first leg of the same route by itself. To illustrate with an example, let’s stick with Dallas.
You may be thinking:
So what if the price is low for one destination? I want to go somewhere else!
This is not a trick question:
Would you rather pay $375 to fly to Dallas or $186?
Very few airlines fly direct from Des Moines to Dallas, infact, only 4 do. With 2 being $100+ more than the best price.
There is very little competition, so airlines put their prices up.
If you book fly to somewhere past your desired destination things get a little more interesting.
Take a look:
How can I take advantage?
- The Django Technique comes in when a passenger disembarks an indirect flight at the connection airport.
- Flight fares are subject to market forces (Supply and demand)
- They do not necessarily correlate to the distance flown.
As a result, a flight between airport A to airport C, with a connection at airport B, might be cheaper than a flight between airport A and airport B. It is then possible to purchase a flight ticket from airport A to airport C, disembark at the connection airport B and discard the remaining segment (B to C).
Walk through – Simple method to finding your own Django Technique deals:
- Go to Google’s ITA Matrix.
- Click the “one-way” tab. (The Django technique does NOT work for round trip tickets. You can book 2 one way tickets to maximise savings
- Click the “Advance Routing Codes” link (below the “Departing From” and “Destination” windows). As seen below:
- You now need to complete: Departing From, Enter your departing city in the first box,
- Enter your desired destination airport code in the Outbound Routing box. THIS MUST BE THE 3 LETTER AIRPORT CODE, not the actual city name. To find your airport code, simply Google: “airport code for (city or airport name)”.
- Here’s the secret part: In the destination box enter a centrally located airport.
If your flying domestic within the US try:
(STL) Saint Louis Lambert International.
If your flying in Europe try:
(FCO) Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, Rome, Italy.
If flying in Asia try at least one of the following as Asia is much bigger:
-(ICN) Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea
-(HKT) Phuket International Airport, Thailand
-(MNL) Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila, Philippines.
- Click “Nearby” to the right.
- A yellow box should appear, first select “within 2000 miles” on the top drop down menu.
- Then tick “select all”. It should look something like this:
- Enter your departure date
- Click “search”
What happens: The search engine will search all available flights to all those cities in the long list (that are within 2000 miles of the central US, central EU or central Asia airport you selected). It will return the results of all the flights that CONNECT in your desired destination.
Look at the “From/To” column, and you’ll see your departure city and the desired destination location in the next column “STOPS”. To get the flight details, either click on the price at the left of the page; or hover your mouse on the right side of the display, which will reveal a “details” link.
Head straight to the airlines own website (very important) and book the flight as per the details provided in the ITA matrix.
If you don’t fancy doing the work involved in this travel hack, you can always head over toSkiplagged, and see what flights they have managed to find, whilst its a slight time saver I would always check manually for best results.
- One way at a time. (For a round trip you must book two one way tickets)
- No checked bags. You can only bring carry on luggage
- Risk of route changing. Airlines only guarantee travel from A:C, not the routing to get there.
- Risk of hostile airline action. Like removal of frequent flyer program.
Is it legal?
There’s nothing like a pair of big corporations suing a 22-year-old kid who turn an obscure loophole into a money saving website. On November 17th United Airlines, one of the three giant American carriers, and Orbitz, an online travel agency, filed a federal lawsuit demanding damages “in excess of $75,000” against Aktarer Zaman, a recent college graduate and the creator and owner of the website Skiplagged. The service enabled users to discover cheap airfares that did not appear on competing engines’ searches by utilising a tactic known as “hidden-city ticketing”, which takes advantage of occasional anomalies in airlines’ pricing algorithms.
The case was thrown out of court.
Moreover, even if Skiplagged vanished from the internet tomorrow, the automated hidden-city lookup tool Mr Zaman sought to offer already exists, thanks to none other than Google’s ITA Matrix we have used. With just a little know-how, it is easy to find flights on Matrix, and employ the Django Technique.
Stick to these rules to minimise any potential issues
You may NOT check any luggage.
This is the airline’s main line of defense, because they will not under any circumstances check your luggage only to the connection airport.
Therefore: Pack light with only carry-on luggage.
If for any reason airport staff try to separate you from your hand luggage and put it in the hold, politely give them one of these replies:
“I have medication in my bag which I must have with me at all times.” (By the way, aspirin is a medication…and you should always carry it to deal with the headaches that today’s airlines can give you.)
“I’m carrying some documents with me and am going to needing them in (name of your connecting city).” These documents might be a novel you are intending to read in your connecting city, but they don’t have to know that.
Or the simplest: “I’m sorry, but I need to keep the contents of my luggage with me at all times.” (If they want to know why, just tell them “it’s rather personal” and leave it at that.)
Make it a habit to pack medication, or a book so you can be prepared, and you are telling the truth.
Only book your Django Technique ticket through the airline website.
If you book your ticket through a travel agency, and only use the first part, the airline will possibly bill the agency for the amount of money you saved. If they don’t pay it, the airline will prohibit the agency from further ticketing on that airline. Which really, just isn’t fair on them.
Never submit your frequent flyer number.
Closing your account and revoking your miles is a tactic the airlines have, at times, tried to use to retaliate against frequent exploits. While it’s never been legally successful for the airlines when a customer has the time, money, and legal guts to challenge, considering the money you’re saving and the paltry value of those miles anyway, it’s best just to not give the airline a way to track you, especially if you use them frequently.
Be prepared for flight irregularities.
If the first leg of a flight is cancelled due to weather or any other reason. From the departure airport to the connection airport (Your desired airport).
Before even asking you, they may have re-booked you on a flight to the end destination via another hub in any other city, or even re-booked you on another airline. When this occurs, you must inform an agent that you booked this flight specifically because of the change of planes in the desired airport so you could meet somebody (which is true, assuming you are not going there to be completely alone and never see anybody). Politely insist that your new flight take you through the desired airport on your way to the end destination.
Only book your Django technique tickets as one way tickets.
This is because as soon as you “miss” your first connecting flight, the airline will automatically cancel the rest of your ticket’s reservations. In most cases, you would need to do this anyway, as when you return home, you’ll be departing from a different city than the one you were originally ticketed for.
How Cheap are Ridiculously Cheap Flights? How about $7 and €6? Read on to learn how:
Airlines sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes when posting their fares.
Leading to seriously discounted flights.
This can happen for various reasons – currency conversion mishaps, technical glitches, or human error. If you’re in the know-how on where to find airline error fares, you can save yourself some serious bucks on a ticket. If you want to try for yourself. We will spell out how you too can find mistake fares easily on your own.
Flight pricing errors are a godsend to those of us with big dreams, but small wallets.
Its like finding money in your jeans pockets after its been in the wash….
Only way better.
Like, hundreds of dollars or pounds better.
Believe it or not, airline pricing mistakes happen all the time.
Here’s some pretty epic ones:
- 2007: San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand return, business class – $1,500 USD instead of $15,000 USD. Thanks to human error resulted in a missed zero!
- 2012: Myanmar to the US, return – $300 USD. How? A mistake when converting the price between currencies.
- 2013: Various US cities to Hawaii, return – $7 USD. The cause? A computer glitch that lasted 2 hours.
- 2016: Zurich to various cities including; Phuket, Punta Cana, Cape Town, Havana, Calgary. For just €6.
What are mistake fares, and why do they happen?
Flight mistake fares, otherwise known as error fares or airline price glitches, are a hugely reduced flight ticket due to a mistake. Various botch-ups can create a mistake fare – here’s a few!
Wether its laziness, fatigue, or simply fat fingers! Numbers can be omitted or added in error when entering a flight price, resulting in a seriously reduced ticket.
Currency conversion mishaps
Calculating a rate from one currency to another poses a huge risk for miscalculations. A famous example is a $4,000 United Airlines ticket that was listed for just $79. Due to a miscalculation when converting the Danish Kroner to the British Pound.
Omitting fuel surcharges & fees
Every now and then, these charges may be dropped by accident. Fuel surcharges make up a surprising percentage of an airline ticket, so if left out, it equates to huge savings!
It’s too darn hard to find and correct every error
In the real world, error fares are inevitable. With the sheer number of flights and manic flight booking systems out there, mistakes will happen and they will be overlooked. It’s time consuming and costly for airlines to continually scope out and correct every single price mishap.
How can you find error fares?
The simplest, easiest approach is to stalk the experts.
Secret Flying is arguably the best resource out there for worldwide flight pricing errors.
- Each day they scrape up current mistake fares.
Fill your social media with Deal Detectives:
Top Twitter Accounts:
Now, if you want to seriously boost your odds of finding an error fare do it yourself, here’s more ways you can improve your odds and become an error-fare wizard:
Conduct broad searches to spot abnormal price drops
- Best done via SkyScanner, where you can select “Entire Month” for your departure date.
- This visualizes the entire month’s prices on one screen, making it easy to spot an abnormally low price.
- Scroll through till you find an anomaly.
- Today we can see a flight for just £78.
- Going rates for that month were upwards of £300.
- Put simply, when you’re “zoomed out” looking at figures across an entire month, it becomes pretty easy to spot a major price drop all on your own!
A little further digging by clicking through on some of the dates not show:
£78 for a flight that typically costs £300 +
Sign up for e-mail alerts on flights.
SkyScanner and Airfare Watchdog offer a price-tracking system, sending an e-mail alert as soon as a flight you’re watching changes in price. It’s not as likely to find an error fare this way, but you would be notified if a major price drop happened on your specific date and route.
Are there risks to booking mistake fares? Do tickets ever get cancelled?
Yes, but the odds are minimal. The primary risk of booking an error fare is that if an airline decides to fix it. Your ticket will be refunded and cancelled.Usually though, error fares are honoured.
When you book an error fare, you need to await your confirmation.
Just because you’ve bought a ticket, does not mean an airline will keep that price.
If you want to book the rest of your trip (e.g. car rentals & hotels), use free cancellation sites like VroomVroomVroom and HotelsCombined. It can take up to a few days to receive a flight confirmation after purchasing, so do be patient.
What should I do if I find a mistake fare?
First… BOOK IT!
As a rule of thumb you should buy ASAP if you find an airline mistake fare that appeals to you.
Selfishly, you should book it before sharing with anyone if you really want that ticket. Most airlines have a 24-hour penalty-free cancellation period, so you’re wise to book even if unsure of your dates. In the United States it’s actually the law for airlines to offer a refund penalty-free within 24-hours after booking. Be smart and book fast!
Pricing errors can last several days, but the best ones disappear in just hours. If you’re not 100% confident on committing, I strongly recommend checking cancellation policy, you can then book to “hold” an awesome price during the penalty-free cancellation period.
Then… Zip it!
Do NOT call an airline to notify them or ask about an error fare.
I repeat: DO NOT TELL AN AIRLINE ABOUT A MISTAKE FARE!
They will eventually resolve an incorrect price, and alerting them to an error risks putting that hot deal to the grave. DO NOT be that person!
To do checklist:
- Stalk error fare experts like Secret Flying and discussion boards to find hot flight deals
- Use broad searching tools like SkyScanner to easily visualize errors across a month’s worth of prices all at once
- Book error fares ASAP, but always check cancellation policies first
- The risks are minimal – while your error fare may not be honoured, you’ll typically find out within days of booking
- Do not ever call an airline to notify or ask about an error fare