How I Saved Over 66% on Airfare in 20 Minutes
by Nora Dunn | March, 2008
It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little investigative legwork these days. You can save on fancy hotel accommodations by finding auctions. Heck – you can save even more by finding ways to stay rent free. You can save on car rental charges by getting free upgrades if you know how.
But how about saving up to 75% on airfare? It’s not exactly easy, but once you know how, you’ll be surfing your way to these deals with the best of them.
Many of the search engines we like to use do a great job of finding us the “cheapest airfares”, but only to a certain point. There are plenty of airlines that fly (ahem) “under the radar” of these search engines.
Here are two examples of how I found ways to save money. I arbitrarily chose exotic destinations, partly because I like exotic destinations, and partly because I believe it’s the easiest way to save a pile of dough.
Flight #1: Paris to Madrid
I know I want to fly from Paris to Madrid return, leaving April 21st and returning April 28th.
Search with a Recognized Engine for a Price to Start With
By taking a peek at Travelocity, I discovered that the “cheapest” way to book this flight is with Air France, at a cost of $198US.
Research the Airport
Next, I performed a few searches. Namely, I was looking for a list of airlines that fly out of Paris or into Madrid in search of the ones that didn’t make the cut with Travelocity. I struck gold here.
Find Another Airline
Immediately, I saw a few airlines that fly between Paris and Madrid which hadn’t been searched with Travelocity. The first one on the list was Ryanair, so I checked their website out. The tradeoff is that they don’t fly out of Paris’s main airport (CDG), but instead use a nearby airport, just off the beaten path.
Check Out the Other Airline’s Website
I had to fight for a small time with the website to change the language to English, but it’s a small price to pay for dealing with a local airline.
Wouldn’t you know it: Ryanair has flights on the same days and even close to the same time of day. The total price: 43 Euros.
What is 43 Euros in US Dollars, you ask? A grand total of $66US.
Flight #2: Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang
Now that I managed to demystify flights between European countries, I figured I’d try something a little more exotic.
Start with a Recognized Search Engine
My randomly picked search engine of choice this time was Expedia. For the same travel dates as above, they said Vietnam Airlines was my best bet at $282US.
Research the Airport, Find Another Airline
Check Out the Other Airline’s Website
Again after fighting with the local language issues and eventually discovering the English version of Pacific Airlines, I found that I could make the same trip for 1,299,000 Vietnam Dong.
Yikes! That sounds pricey. But what is 1,299,000VND in US Dollars? (drum roll please) … $81.
Having had so much luck with exotic searches, I thought I’d try some researching a little closer to home, in North America. Unfortunately I wasn’t as lucky as above, and after a few tries, I determined that the big-name travel search engines we are accustomed to using generally have the North American markets pegged.
I would imagine though, if you are creative and have enough time on your hands (and patience) to vary your searches and use discount airlines and seat sales for certain portions of your journey, that you can indeed outdo the search engines even in our own backyard.
What are your tips for saving money on airfare?
You Might Also Like
About the Author
Nora Dunn is the The Professional Hobo, a woman who sold everything she owned (including a busy financial planning practice) in 2006 and has been travelling the world in a financially sustainable way ever since. She is an internationally published freelance writer on the topics of travel, personal finance, and lifestyle design, with columns on Wisebread, Flight Network, and Care One. Check out her latest musings on Facebook and Twitter.