On any given flight, there are stories of wins and losses. Not every traveler has the flexibility or insight to book at the right time, and even sitting in the same identical seat, in the same cabin, you can have astronomically different prices paid. Yes, even now that Google specifically tells you you’re getting a bad deal, some things just can’t be helped. More often than perhaps ever before, airlines are hiding flight deals. Here’s how to sort through the fray and find them anyway…
One Stop Shop
We as consumers love a “one stop shop”, and for quite a long time that seemed entirely possible. But now, for reasons which aren’t all that explainable, the best flight deals don’t make it everywhere. There is no “one stop”, and if you search just one spot, you’ll likely miss something. Even Google Flights, one of our favorite places to search for great deals doesn’t always display the lowest prices. And unfortunately, it works the other way too, where things may appear on Google Flights, but nowhere to be found on popular booking sites. As booking systems become more dynamic, airlines are now able to show fares selectively. Let’s take a closer look…Air China has picked up a habit of launching sales that don’t appear on many booking sites, and generally can only be found on their own website, or on a major site such as Expedia. If you went to book and only searched on Google Flights, you’d miss out on the best price by about €700.
And let’s not forget the simplest of examples, Southwest. Southwest saves quite a bit of money each year by not having their fares displayed and marketed by third party travel agencies, so it’s quite easy to completely overlook them as an option on many U.S. routes. The airline is a massive success, with many fans that support them almost exclusively, but it’s just an example of how easy it is to miss a great flight deal by searching “one stop shops”.
Or how about perennial “best airline in the world”, Singapore Air? The airline is slowly winning over direct bookings, by offering discounts only available on mobile devices. That’s right – search any site on your computer, even SingaporeAir.com and you won’t get the lowest price in some instances. There’s currently a fare sale between Los Angeles and Tokyo with a price of $575 online, or just $545 in the app. That’s $30 per person, which is not chump change.
Bundles? Yeah, they’re hidden there too. From cheap last minute economy flights to long haul business luxury, many of the best deals of the year have only been available by throwing in a hotel as well. Yep, even if you have no need for a hotel, there’s potential to save thousands on a booking. Bangkok has been a steady example this year, where business class flights would often cost more than $3000 per person, but if you added a hotel to the package, you could grab business class flights and hotel for under $1800 all in!
If you really want the best deals on airfare, you’re going to have to spend more than 5 minutes locking it in, unless of course it’s during one of our crazy deal alerts. When you’ve found what appears to be a great deal, always cross check against booking directly with the airline, with a major booking site like Expedia, and also if there’s a mobile app discount. You just never know what you may find, if you only look in one place.
Have you had major success by looking at multiple booking sites this year?
Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...
More by Gilbert Ott
Travel Better, For Less
Stay up to date on everything travel, with our handy newsletter