But warning: You won’t be able to check any bags. Since you’re getting off the flight before it reaches its final destination, any checked bags would head to the next stop without you. You should also avoid using your frequent flyer account number; airlines frown upon this money-saving method, and might cancel your return flight if they discover you doing this.” —Mona Molayem
What you need in order to score premium seats consistently is a systematic approach to purchasing tickets and the right infrastructure to get the job done. All this will come with enough experience combined with trial and error. There is no holy grail—just perseverance and know-how. The book mentioned above offers some excellent techniques and insights on pulling tickets that the average fan will probably not have thought of.
My husband and I are flying from San Francisco to Paris on August 31 and returning October 4. In the last several months, ticket prices have risen from $1400 – $1700 for economy seats. We fly every year and never pay anywhere near this for this much. Do you have any advice as to when we should book? We’d rather fly nonstop, but could do it with one short layover.
My go-to sites when I arrange personal travel are Kayak.com (I love using its flexible month and flexible weekend options) and two Google offerings: Google.com/flights/explore and Google.com/flights. The "explore" site allows you to choose a trip length, departure city and an arrival city or region (such as "United States," "Europe" or "Boston") and then displays a selection of the lowest fares available over the next few months. It's perfect for anyone with flexible travel dates and destinations. The "flights" site asks you to choose origin city and destination along with specific travel dates so it's more geared to those with less flexibility. However, none of these sites include Southwest Airlines, so you also need to compare at Southwest.com. If you're date-flexible, use Southwest's low-fare calendar option.
Monitor price fluctuations.The lowest fare for a given flight changes an average of 71 times between the time the flight is announced and the day it departs, according to the CheapAir study. Each change (up or down) averages $33. Before holidays, prices can fluctuate wildly, says George Hobica, president of Airfarewatchdog.com. So set price alerts for your destination with several tracker websites. Sites like Airfarewatchdog and Kayak let you monitor flights by airline and will send text or email alerts when prices for your desired time frame drop.
You’re not crazy for thinking that a flight price has changed after searching it a few times in your web browser. Based on the cookies in your browser, 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. Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest prices.
A couple of sites are better for flights to Europe than flights within Europe, and some nice features make their results easier to navigate. Expedia is easy to use and consistent at finding good fares. CheapoAir offers pricing tables for mixed-airline flights to and from Europe. Vayama specializes in international flights, with cheaper fares that might not show up elsewhere — but beware that its customer service doesn't have a stellar reputation for handling cancellations and changes. (For cheap flights within Europe, I prefer Skyscanner.)
This is because they structure their business around package holidays and, often left with undersold capacity, will offload their last-minute seats for low fares. If you’re keen on a last-minute one- or two-week getaway somewhere exotic but where the specific destination is not that important to you, I’d look there to score the biggest savings. Here is an example of how to spot them on Tui, showing fares such as Cancun at £229 return.
Though common decency would dictate that the money you paid to check your bag, get some extra legroom, or board early would also be refunded in the case of you getting bumped or severely delayed, airlines don’t always offer it up. Make sure to mention the fees you paid when negotiating any compensation or refund. If you’re nice, and your agent isn’t having a bad day, they’ll sometimes give you that stuff gratis on your rescheduled flight as a gesture of goodwill. Again, the key words here are “if you’re nice.” Be nice.
Is it possible at all? A bullet-proof secure and transparent solution, at the same time streamlined and easy to use for fans, without extra hustle? A solution that would enable artists and promoters to control revenue and pricing both on the primary and secondary markets as well as provide flexible tools for ticket vendors, while helping maintain fair pricing for fans?
Sometimes the best bargains are made through the traveler's own improvisation. The budget airlines in Southeast Asia and Europe are famously cheap, but Americans can only rarely directly connect to them through major airline flights through the United States, as the budget airlines often operate at secondary airports that are rarely serviced by major airlines. Accessing those cheap flights requires some improvisation, such as transferring from London's Gatwick or Heathrow to Stansted. However, when doing this, it is important to factor all costs into the bill. Budget airlines like Ryanair are notorious for their nickel-and-dime approach to fees, and those airport-to-airport buses and trains aren't free. Also, the hassle of switching airports might not be worth it for travelers encumbered with heavy luggage. This strategy works, but it requires thorough research and careful consideration.
While most airlines put a heavy surcharge on one-way tickets (often charging 80% of or sometimes the same price as a return), airlines such as Norwegian offer one-way tickets for roughly half the price of a return. This affects other airline’s prices, such as TAP Portugal and KLM, too. This means for trips to the US, particularly those when you might not know the exact date, or airport of your return, it makes sense to book a one-way ticket there, and another one back.
Let's say you've done your best to find the lowest fare, and then the day after purchase your non-refundable fare goes down $100. Sure, if you ask for it you can get a refund for the difference, but it's a little-known fact that some airlines will charge you a "service" or "administrative" fee as high as $100 for domestic fares or from $200-$300 on international ones, wiping out any savings. United, however, will give you the entire fare difference without extracting a fee, as will U.S. Airways (which prominently displays this policy on its site) and JetBlue as long as you accept the reimbursement in the form of a voucher good for future travel. Northwest charges just $25, for both domestic and international fares. American and Delta extract the $100-$300 fees; Southwest gives you a credit for a future flight without charging a fee. Even on these less generous airlines, however, we've heard of plenty of instances where a polite entreaty will get you a full fare difference refund without the penalties, so it's worth try.
Don't travel at peak times, which means not flying on the Sunday after Thanksgiving or any other time when seats are coveted. Consider starting a summer trip before school is out. Visit Europebefore May and after summer vacations. Be aware, however, that a tidal wave of boomers is expected to flood Europe in the fall, so don't count on bargain transatlantic flights at that time of year.
Take advantage of presales. Presales allow select consumers (such as members of a fan club or people who carry a certain credit card) to buy tickets—usually by using a special password on the ticket sales website—before they’re offered to the general public. You can also get passwords and alerts to presales free of charge at ticketcrusader.com or by paying a small fee at presalepasswordinfo.com. Watch for credit card promotions, too. American Express, Visa Signature, and MasterCard offer some cardholders first dibs, preferred seats and unique access, and discounts to various events.
5. Know your laws: There's no federal law against scalping, but you'll need to find out what's in play where you live. In New York, for instance, the state let its sky's-the-limit scalping permission lapse in June 2010. Now somewhat strict, but cloudy, rules supposedly govern both online and onsite transactions there. Whether the activity is being rigorously monitored is anyone's guess.
It's often cheaper to buy two fares rather than one. Let's say you're flying from New York to Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Check on one of the big sites like Expedia or Orbitz for a single fare (for example, JFK to Governor's Harbor, Bahamas) and then do two separate searches (JFK to Nassau and Nassau to Governor's Harbor). Chances are the two-fare strategy will save you a lot of cash. This fare trick also works for flights to Europe (fly into London or Manchester, UK on one fare and then hop on a discount European airline to reach your final destination) and Asia. To search route possibilities on these discounters, check out the Airfarewatchdog route maps page.
Since Low Cost Carriers only sell their tickets through their web sites and not through large travel sites it’s difficult to compare costs and find routes for budget airlines. (Kayak, Vayama, Travelocity, Expedia and the other big travel sites don’t always have information on the low cost carriers.) That’s where web sites like Skyscanner and Which Budget come in handy. Find the best route and price from these web sites then make your way to that airline’s site to purchase the tickets.
If you travel a lot, try to travel on the same airline. Even if you pay a few dollars more, it’s wiser to accumulate miles so you can enjoy a free flight sooner than later. Also, most airlines partner with other airlines and form “alliances” and you can earn miles and redeem miles by flying on one of their partners. Google Flights allows you to search for flights by alliances, narrowing down your options to airlines that partner. American Airlines is part of the OneWorld alliance, Delta is part of SkyTeam, and United is with Star Alliance.
Search for flight deals a month in advance, and, unless you can fly at a moment's notice and find a last-minute sale, book 21 days out. Avoid flying on Monday, Friday and Sunday, which are generally the most expensive days. You can also save a lot by flying at night (yes, the dreaded red-eye) or early in the morning (like when it's still dark). Try to stay over at least one Saturday to save even more. And travel off-season: everyone wants to fly to Hawaii in winter when it's cold or in summer when school is out, but in spring or fall, those seats are cheaper. Finally, research when to buy airline tickets for holiday travel carefully. In general, the closer to a holiday you fly, the higher the prices — unless, perhaps, you travel on the holiday itself.
TRAVEL PLANS CAN quickly become expensive, making budget vacations extremely desirable. But such trips aren't possible if you pay too much for airfare. And unless you know where to look, finding cheap flights can be a huge hassle. "For the airlines, it's about getting you to pay the most you're willing to pay, which is the opposite of what the consumer wants," says Joe Brancatelli, publisher of the travel website JoeSentMe.com. On a single flight, he adds, there can be more than a dozen pricing categories. "On a 150-seat plane, there could be 50 different prices," he says.
I am planning to book an open jaw ticket San Francisco-Paris, Mykonos-San Francisco leaving in late May, returning in mid June. The cheapest I have found using every site I know are around $1800. I was thinking a good price would be around $1300 – $1500, but it may be too late to get these fares. Do you think prices could drop some? Should I wait until January to book? Kayak is not able to give me a buy/wait recommendation.
Flight search websites compare fares available at multiple airlines, online travel agencies, or both, and then sort them by price. I've tested a number of them on a variety of journeys, both transatlantic and within Europe. Overall, Kayak has the best results for both intercontinental and intra-European flights on a combination of mainstream and budget carriers. An alternative is Google Flights, which has an easy-to-use system to track prices and lets you see how much you'd save by departing a day earlier or later.
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Increasingly, airlines are launching "private" sales, reserving their very best fares for their own sites. With the exception of Southwest (www.southwest.com), now the second largest carrier by passengers flown, most of the airlines that do this are smaller domestic airlines or large international carriers, but we've even seen Delta do it, and we're not talking here just about last-minute weekend fares. Air New Zealand, Aloha, Malaysia, Frontier, Qantas, Singapore, SAS, Spirit, and others are using this strategy. Alaska Airlines has almost-weekly 20 percent off sales that you won't find anywhere but Alaska's site (www.alaskaairlines.com). Niche carriers like USA3000 (www.usa3000.com) and Allegiant Air (www.allegiantair.com) usually don't share their fare data with third-party sites at all, and although USA3000 fares are included in Sidestep.com searches, that airline has frequent $10 off sales that are only valid only on its website.
Let me be right up front. Ticket reselling is not for everyone. There is a risk of losing money and the potential for wasted time and frustration. Also, you will find that some people (maybe even you!) simply view ticket reselling as some sort of horrible or inexcusable activity (“how dare you sell a ticket for more than face value you scalper!?!”).
Important: Because you don't want to flash your whole supply of currency, it helps a great deal to have your money arranged beforehand. For example, if I expect to spend $20-60, I will have $40 in one pocket, and $20 in another--all outside of my wallet, ready to go. This also makes using the tried-and-true line "I only have X dollars" work much more easily. A floating $5 bill somewhere isn't a bad idea, either, for negotiation purposes.
At Texas A&M I was an ECON major, a sports nut, and gambling freak, so this ticket broker thing just about summed up every interest I had. My career did not begin at Texas A&M, though, but in New Jersey at Seton Hall University. I was in Grad School and I realized I was about 12 months away from having to find a real job. All throughout college I tried to get internships with various sports teams and I even worked for ABC Sports for a few years, but nothing fit. My ultimate career goal in life was to have my own businees but not have the type of business in which I had to work 100 hours a week.
If you don't want to put in the leg work, you can let the deals come to you. Condé Nast Traveler shares many of the best flight deals on social media, but for those even more obsessed, it's hard to beat the convenience of flight deal blogs like Scott's Cheap Flights, Airfarewatchdog, SecretFlying, and TheFlightDeal, which are constantly posting deals from around the world. Follow them on social media or sign up for their newsletters.
Why pay a fare at all when you can use your frequent flier miles? Although redeeming miles has gotten more difficult in recent years, it’s still a good option to consider, particularly if you’re booking early; airlines designate a limited number of seats on each flight as eligible for award travel, and these seats go quickly. Some credit cards can help you build up miles more quickly; see How to Choose the Best Travel Credit Card to learn more.
My family is going on a cruise. I purchased one way tickets to Florida for $112 but can’t find a return flight under $300 from Fort Lauderdale to Boston on Sunday, May 1st. I would prefer to come home on Sunday but might end up having to return on Monday May 2nd if the price doesn’t come down. Unfortunately, I didn’t purchase them when they were $210. Should I take the gamble and wait, or would if be best to book now?
While there are many other third-party ticket resale websites, the other most common place you can sometimes sell is via the place where you bought the tickets. The best example is Ticketmaster, which allows for reselling tickets to some but not all events for which it is the primary ticket seller. Many season ticket holders have the ability to sell their tickets through the sports team’s website, which is sometimes run by Ticketmaster (or sometimes StubHub for resale purposes, as is the case with Major League Baseball).
Companies who resell tickets are called ticket brokers. Some would argue they are scalpers, as well. However, reputable ticket brokers follow laws, register with the Better Business Bureau and National Association of Ticket Brokers, make you pay with a credit card and take steps to safeguard against fraud. So there is a difference between buying from a street scalper and an online "scalper," even if it hits your pocketbook the same way.
When you use reward miles to pay for a last-minute award flight, it's not uncommon for the airline to charge a "close-in" fee. One of the few airlines to not charge this fee is Delta. If you're a Medallion member, you can also enjoy free first class and premium seating upgrades for any unsold seats, which is a second way you can save money on airfare.
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While ticket scalping happens almost anywhere this is a venue where tickets can be sold, the laws surrounding the practice vary. About 20 states prohibit ticket resales or require broker licenses. For example, in Mississippi, there are only restrictions on state-owned property and college sporting events; Texas has no restrictions; and Massachusetts says residents cannot sell tickets for higher than face value, including fees plus $2 for tickets to events taking place in Massachusetts. However, ticket brokers licensed by the state are able to charge a fee to cover the expense of getting the ticket.
These websites are a breeze to use. Ok, that may not be true for all, but even the less user-friendly among them aren't rocket science. So, do not brush these sites off if you want to search for and compare air fares. For the most part, all you have to do is enter your preferences and keep experimenting with different combinations and options until you are satisfied. Easy peasy!
Based on Skyscanner flight data from 2015 to 2017, looking at exits from the UK to all destination for the average flight price of return economy adult fare at the point of travel for each day of the week, and at the point of booking for each day of the week; London to Tenerife fares based on live results from Skyscanner.net on 15 January 2018, for a trip flying out of London 27 May 2018, returning 1 June 2018; London to Malaga fares based on live results from Skyscanner.net on 24 January 2018, flying out of London on 6 April 2018, returning 13 April 2018; London to Gran Canaria fares based on live results from Skyscanner.net on 15 January 2018, flying out 11 August 2018, returning 22 August 2018.
Buy your tickets at the right time (to the extent possible). Airfares flex like crazy, but in general it's wise to start looking for international flights at least four months before your trip, especially for travel in spring, summer, or fall. Good deals on winter travel (November through March) can usually be purchased a month or so in advance, with the exception of winter breaks and holidays, which require even earlier booking. Year-round, it's generally cheaper to book midweek.
In July 2015, Government of Ontario declared Ticket Scalping legal as an attempt to regulate online ticketing industry. Similarly in the US, each state has its own ticket reselling law. Some of the states prohibit the reselling of tickets, while some of them regulate it to an extent by mandating a license to resell the tickets. Hence, it is up to the Governments to decide if ticket scalping should be banned, based on the extent of vulnerability and business urgency.