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How To Save Around 100 Bucks on Airfare

Even as airfares drop, they still remains a major expense for artists, business people, and families alike. As part of our on going series design to help starving artists (is there any other kind?) we have compiled a few tips for those trying to get to their next conference.

 

Use Gift Cards

How do you pay, like, nothing for a flight. Well, like so many ways to save money, as we will cover later, thing start with gift cards. Gift cards? Yes, gift cards. Gift cards are just like cash, only without that pesky ability to use anywhere. Since they are only legal tender at one retailer, people with these gift cards who don’t like the retailer must either do nothing with them (which many do)  These are worth nothing to people who don’t want to use the retailer, and would prefer cash. They are willing to pay for that privilege, and you can end up saving between 6 and 8% on flights if you buy the cards and use them to pay. Typical sites are Cardcash.com and giftcardgranny.com. Just remember to buy using a credit card that offers Frequent flyer points to compound savings. If you then register your flight with your current frequent flyer program, you are doubling your points by doing so.

But what if your particular airline does not offer gift cards? Well, money is fungible my friend. Just buy a different gift card that you WILL use, and use the saving on your flight. With things like 14% off Starbucks and 10% off target, chances are you’ll find a store you use.

Potential savings:

8% on the gift cards.

1% on miles through Frequent Flyer bonus programs, an average. Breakdown and analysis here.

1% on card points.

Total savings so far 10%

 

Use a VPN.

When you ask an airline or travel site how much a ticket is, they only want to know one thing: “how much you got?”

Which is to say, prices vary depending on your location. Airlines like to charge Americans more.

Using a VPN, or virtual Personal Network, will allow you to “spoof” your actual location.

But wait, there’s more. Airline website also keep track, though cookies, of how many times you visit their site. In some cases, they raise prices on you because they now know how bad you want the ticket. Yes, you read that right, they monitor your shopping habits online and charge depending on how much often you look longingly at those ticket to Paris. Sacrebleu!

You may need to change the currency or language you buy the ticket in though, as airlines are getting wise. These are easy tricks THEY don’t want you to know about!

Just watch out for foreign transaction fees. Check you credit card agreement-let’s face it-for the first time.

Savings: Varies, but often more than 10%

 

Buy Early

It’s well knows that buying early is cheaper. In fact, about two months may be the sweet spot. Earlier than that won’t save you anything, and may cost you more.

Potential savings: Varies widely, depending on when you normally buy, but two months out will save you over 10% compared to one month out. It skyrockets if you buy with less than two weeks to spare.

Don’t Use the Airlines Website

There are plenty of travel websites that would love to charge you for a flight you could easily book yourself. Let them! Unless you have the time to check every major carrier to see if they have a flight and price shop, remember that going on a multi-city trip though one carrier chains you to whatever they may charge. Prices between cities vary wildly between airlines. If you are travelling though  major hub for that airline, prices can be far cheaper. Delta, for example, like to push all its flights through Atlanta (if delta offered a flight from Tokyo to Beijing, it would have a layover in Atlanta) so don’t rely on just one airline.

 

Use Skiplagged

The not so secret website Skiplagged takes advantage of a loophole in airline fare pricing to offer the cheapest possible flights.How do they do this? Among other things, they use “hidden city” flights. These are long horrible flights involving multiple cities, and thereof reo cheaper, but if you get off halfway through, the flight is still cheaper than a direct one. Or, as skiplagged puts it:

A hidden-city flight is a flight where you get off at the layover rather than the final destination. For example, a flight from New York to San Francisco might be $300, but a similar flight from New York to Seattle with a layover in San Francisco might be $200. If you’re going to San Francisco we’ll show you both flights, and if you choose the cheaper one, you get off the plane at the layover (San Francisco) rather than going to the final destination (Seattle).  

Most flights you book through them will not be hidden city flights, but if you do use that form, don’t associate frequent flyer miles programs, or they will be unto you. And don’t use it too often, or they’ll smell a rat. And you can’t check bags, as they will go to final destination, not yours. AND, you’re a jerk, as they will call your name in the airport and you won’t be there. They will assume you’re in the trunk of car somewhere being taken to points unknown. Can you live with that? Can you??

Skipped lag also has its own Reward Credit system, which looks like it offers a little under 2% back.

Potential Savings:

2% on the Skiplagged reward system.

Additional Savings depend on if you use the hidden-city option, but if you do, you could save almost 50%

 

Summary

So lets pile all these savings into two examples.

 

A

You want a $350 ticket to a nub city, so you use skiplagged and buy a ticket to noware, and get off in that hub city, cutting $100 off the price. You get points on your card and points on skiplagged rewards program, netting you another 3% or so in credits. Savings: about $100 bucks.

 

B

Let’s say you book the tics yourself. You buy some gift card from American airlines, saving 8% instantly, combined with you card and airline reward points, your already over 10% off. You used a VPN to buy these tics, and did so two months in advance, each saving you 10% off retail for a total of 20% off. Your total savings would be around $100 bucks.

 

Sites of note:

Kayak – A good starting point to check all the travel sites at once.

Skiplagged – Saving so great they should be illegal. They almost are, but they won the lawsuit.

cardcash.com -One of Many exchanges.

Cheapair.com -Link to a breakdown of when to buy.