So, like the rag-tag band of hustlers that we are, George and I arm ourselves with a mishmash of tools to help us out:
- Travel Emails: Travelzoo, Gate 1, Sherman’s Travels, Groupon—we’ve signed up for ‘em all. And we’ve nabbed our fair share of good, cheap deals from these email blasts, among them trips to Cuba, Croatia, and France. And don’t forget about airline emails. It was a message from American about $88 round-trip tickets to Dallas that landed us smack in the middle of a real-deal Texas rodeo last winter. Yeehaw!
- Price Predicting: So due to a glitch in my crystal ball, I’m not real great at this. Fortunately, there are a few tools out there to give us mere mortals a hand. Google Flights is one of my favorites: Enter your travel destination and dates, and you’ll get access to a bar graph that shows you that, often times by jiggling the dates or length of your vacation around just a tad, you can save a bundle. Kayak, too, has done me a solid or two with their price prediction tool.
- Read, read, read: I swear, at least once a week I read another article about when and how to book flights to find the best deal. “Travel over a Sunday!” “Don’t book more than 6 months out out!” “Don’t book less than 2 weeks in advance.” GAH! STOP SCREAMING AT ME, TRAVEL ARTICLES! It’s enough to make you weep openly. But do I keep reading them? You betcha. Here’s a recent-ish fave that suggests that for domestic flights, 54 days out is the sweet spot. I’m sure next month it’ll be something else, but for now, let’s all raise a glass to the big 5-4. (International flights are trickier to pinpoint, but the same Cheap Air series has a few pointers on that subject, based on what region of the globe you’re off to next!)
- Follow: Listen, I'll be the first to admit that Twitter is, well, like whiplash, only less fun....Tweets flying this way and that, me having no idea what's going on and accidentally posting this that should never see the light of day...good times. Anyway, there are many, many accounts out there that slice and dice deals--and even unearth glitches in ticketing that provide insane rates--and shoot out the info to their loyal following. Think Airfare Watchdog or The Flight Deal, just to name a couple of my faves. Again, the airlines themselves are worth following for cheap, and last minute, deals.
At the end of the day, however, sites, articles, and tweets aside, George and I always have a number in our head about what we are and aren’t willing to pay for a flight. When the flight price dips to that number, we book (Bonjoir, Brussels!), and if it's still above it by the time we need to finalize our plans, we simply look for another, cheaper destination. (Buh-bye, Bangkok. Maybe next year?) Easy enough, right?
What trick and tools do you use to score a good flight deal?