a row of seats in an airplane

There’s a long standing flight deal tip about buying airline tickets on a Tuesday. It’s garbage, but it wasn’t always that way. An under appreciated element of flight deals is that the technology behind selling flights is constantly changing.

Yep, a long-long time ago tickets were filed on specific days and even if there was an error, like a zero or two missing, it wouldn’t get found or changed for weeks. Now, an airline has the ability to claw back errors in mere seconds, but also many new ways to sell tickets too.

It’s easier now for airlines to personalize or customize pricing based on who you are, where you are and how you’re booking. There are pros and cons to this, but the pros are significant — if you know how to use them.

Just in time for a new year of travel, here are two “new” ways to find flight deals.

a person holding a phone

Airline Apps Can Offer Exclusive Prices

Historically, airline prices were “the price” — and that was that. It didn’t matter which device you were on or even which website really. A pricing specialist would put out a fare and it would be gobbled up, or not.

That’s history. Now, many of the more tech forward airlines, including Qatar Airways, can offer discounts in specific places that won’t appear elsewhere.

Yep — that’s the tip. Airline apps are increasingly becoming the “go-to” spot for flight deal savings, because there’s value to airlines in having you book there. Once you have an app you can be sent notifications about new offers and it’s easier to keep you in the game.

Lowering prices for “app only” deals is a great hook to get people to actually download an app they may only use once or twice a year, but are unlikely to delete.

What Kind Of Savings Are We Talking?

European, Middle Eastern and Asia based airlines have been ahead of the curve on this and a recent sale from Malaysia Airlines laid evidence bare in plain sight. Take a look at their “New Year” sale…

 Business Class Offers
 Malaysia Airlines websiteMalaysia Airlines app
Return LHR to:All-in All-in
Kuala Lumpur (KUL)33153200
Penang (PEN)31253010
Langkawi (LGK)31253010
Bangkok (BKK)32053085
Phuket (HKT)32053085
Ho Chi Minh (SGN)34103290
Hanoi (HAN)33953275
Denpasar (DPS)32103090
Manila (MNL)32203100
Phnom Penh (PNH)34103290
Singapore (SIN)32103090
Adelaide (ADL)42804125
Melbourne (MEL)42754125
Perth (PER)46054440
Sydney (SYD)42854130
Auckland (AKL)46854520

The prices here are entirely unremarkable, but the evidence is pure. Malaysia is willing to give you at least $100 per ticket off, just for using their app to book. Thus far, other airlines have typically offered discounts between 10-20% off for app use.

Make no mistake of itthis is the future. Every day, more and more airlines will create increased customer stickiness and engagement by pushing them into app ecosystems which are harder to get rid of than an email.

From Southwest to JetBlue and beyond, expect to see these sort of “app only” offers expand in 2023. Downloading a free app is quite a small price to pay for savings.

Buy In Numbers For “Secret” Prices

Go to buy a seat for yourself, you might get a price of $750. Go to buy for two, you might get a price of $1000 for two — or maybe even $750! Yes, another benefit of more modern, direct selling of flights by airlines is that you can offer special prices for two or more.

This is a “show me the money” conversation, so I’ll just cut to evidence from the most prolific champions of two or more sales, the Lufthansa Group.

Swiss and Lufthansa regularly offer sales where if two people are booking, they’ll often pay only a fraction more than the cost for one, or in some cases, less. Everyone likes the idea of flat beds and business class, but $2500 per person or much more isn’t for everyone.

a screenshot of a computer
During a “luxury sale for two” it was cheaper to book first class than economy, if you were booking for two.

During these sales, it’s not uncommon to have prices of $999 per person, but only if you book for two passengers or more. Booking for one might be $2,500 but booking for two might be $1999 all in, for two! It may seem crazy but these sales don’t last long and they fill a lot of seats.

How Do I Get In On These?

Obviously, the self serving answer is that blogs love to shout about these. And of course, what better blog to find them than GSTP. But that aside, the crucial piece of advice most people don’t want to hear, is that you need to let them come to you.

Set aside an email address for travel offers from hotels, airlines, car rental companies and loyalty programs. Let them send you marketing content and when they do, be really picky about what interests you. Whenever I see those “two for one” sales pop into my inbox, I drop what I’m doing.

a plane on the runway

Got Any Other Tips?

Of course. Google Flights is great, and the tips that unlock the best deals on Google Flights are universally great advice.

A key feature of Google Flights is that it makes it easy to search from up to five departure points and five arrival cities. This isn’t very useful if you’re trying to go from New York to a specific Hawaiian Island, but if you’re headed to say… Europe… and are looking for savings, flying into Paris rather than Amsterdam can save big money.

You only know when you try and what doesn’t work once may work another time. The key with flight deals is to constantly put all the best practices and information to use. The more you do, the more likely you are to crack the code.

Gilbert Ott

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...

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  1. I started experimenting on which day is best to look up for least expensive airfares but I haven’t found a consensus (California to Mexico flights). Generally looking way out before the travel date is best but sometimes they might bring in another airplane and a last minute deal appears out of nowhere. (New Years travel). But looking at “flexible dates” I think it still is Tuesday for the best time to fly but that depends on supply and demand by how many people want to travel. I recently found Google flights and I like using this.

  2. App fares are cheaper because you can’t use portals for cash back. With web site fares, you can score some % off through a portal.

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