Alright, let’s get down to brass tax.
Unless you’re flying on your companies dollar (not likely), or you’re so rich that money isn’t an object, (although that would be nice, it’s also not likely) you want to travel the world, and you want to do it for cheap.
We asked Thom Malone (founder of Simplifly Club – a company that finds Mistake Airfares out of Toronto) how to find the cheapest flights. Here is the list.
1) Understanding the Game
Airlines set prices for their flights in an incredibly antiquated way: Entering their prices manually.
This means that when an airline is setting the price for a flight, they need to enter it in by hand. This can lead to fat-finger discounts, and result in huge savings.
An airline company is typing in:
New York (JFK) to Belgrade (BEL).
They go to set the price at $1430 but miss the 0 and set it at $143 USD. (This is a real fare that I found on Aug 14.)
2) Subscribe to Mistake Airfare Email Lists
If you get tired of searching yourself, Simplifly Club and YYZ Deals are two email lists dedicated to finding mistake/error fares from Toronto and the GTA. Simplifly Club is having a raffle for a free flight giveaway on their website that lasts until October 4th.
3) Throwaway Ticketing
Okay, I cannot officially endorse this, I am just reporting on what some people do to get a cheap flight. Get ready to pack light, because throwaway ticketing means all you can bring is your carry-on for a one-way ticket!
Throwaway Ticketing became popular in 2014 through the website www.skiplagged.com. The way it works is having your destination as a hidden-city. I’m going to let the creator of Skiplagged explain what it’s all about through his AMA Reddit post from December of 2015:
Basically, hidden-city is where your destination is a stopover; you’d simply leave the airport when you arrive at your destination. It turns out booking this way can save you hundreds of dollars on over 25% of common routes, especially in the USA. New York to San Francisco for example. There are a few caveats, of course: (1) you’d have to book a round-trip as two one-ways (which Skiplagged handles automatically), (2) you can only have carry-ons, and (3) you may be breaking an agreement with the airlines known as contract of carriage, where it might say you can’t miss flights on purpose.
So if you’re still confused here’s a picture that might clear it up:
If you booked your trip to go from New York to San Francisco, it would cost you around $300. However, if you booked your trip to go from New York to Seattle, it’s only $170 with a layover in San Francisco. So, once you get to San Francisco for your layover, you just get off the plane and voila! You’re in San Francisco!
4) Be Flexible
Dates: When people ask me to find them flights, it’s usually very specific dates. There is nothing more prohibitive than having very specific dates. So when you’re looking for flights, be flexible. Google Flights, Kayak, Momondo, and almost every good flight aggregator allows you to search +/- 3 days, so be sure to use that.
Google Flights has a particular tool that I love called Price Graph.
Click on the date you want to fly, this will then pop up. Use this when you want to find the cheapest deal. It’ll be your new best friend.
Location: When booking a flight people often just look for flights from the closest airport to their home. This can be really detrimental when looking for the cheapest prices. Living around The Great Lakes, I look for flights that depart from Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, Buffalo, Pittsburg and sometimes even smaller airports.
Certain airports routinely fly to specific destinations. So checking each airport can really decrease the price of flying. An example would be trying to book a flight to London, England while living in Detroit.
Looking from Detroit to London really quickly, I found the flights were $1,344 CAD. That is really expensive to fly across the pond.
So I quickly checked Chicago, it’s only a 4 hour $20 MegaBus trip. It’s $965, that’s $379 cheaper. That’s much better, but I think I can still find cheaper.
5) Currency Conversions
This is probably one of my favourite tricks, but once again you need to be careful with this. Don’t book through an airline, call an airline, and if you can check-in with your flight online or at a kiosk do it. The less human interaction you have with these things, the better off you’ll be.
So you know how the only industry in the world that can discriminate based on age, sex, race, and geographical location is insurance? Well you’re ALMOST entirely correct, except airfare aggregators do the same.
Big airline aggregators like Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz, Momondo and the like all capture your location upon entering their site. It’s actually pretty convenient, unless you want to find some mistake airfares.
Airline companies sometimes will discriminate their prices based off of your geographical location. If you live in a first world country, chances are you’ll be able to afford that $800 flight to Spain. However, someone from Argentina may not be able to afford the same cost based off of US dollars. So what do they do to ensure they get business from all corners of the globe? They adjust their prices accordingly.
So, when booking a flight, always be sure to check other forms of currency to see if it’s any cheaper.
How to do it
2. Scroll to the very bottom to their Global Sites section
3. Click on the 1st flag (Argentinian flag)
4. Hey look at you! You’re on the Argentinian Expedia! Hopefully Google automatically translated it for you, but just in case they didn’t, right-click and click Translate to English.
5. Browse for flights with Argentinian Pesos and check the currency conversion with Google.
Alright, there you have it! There’s some tricks of the trade that you can use to start finding your own mistake airfares.
Thomas Malone is the founder of simpliflyclub.com. He is obsessed with finding mistake airfares and sends them out to his subscriber list. Simplifly Club is currently raffling off 1 free round trip ticket upon signing up to their email list.