Did you hear about the latest airfare glitch/fuel dump fares that had all of the travel community across America in a frenzy? There were roundtrip flights to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East ringing up for less than $300! People were booking flights into 2018 with destinations like South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Thailand, Egypt, and Dubai. I managed to snag a flight to Bangkok for around $250. Let’s just say it will be an unforgettable birthday for me!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry; you’re in the right place now. Airfare deals like these aren’t completely uncommon. You just have to be in the right place at the right time to get one. Like our girl Tami Roman says, “If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready”. So here’s how to be sure you don’t miss the next deal.
1. UNDERSTAND THE DEAL
Cheap airfare come in many different forms. Glitches. Errors. Specials. Fuel Dumps. Understanding the nuances between the types is important for knowing exactly how to book. Airline specials are the easiest to snag. They can be offered for a variety of reasons, like new routes and holidays. Because the airline is the distributor of the fares, you have the most time to book it before the deal ends (typically a few days weeks). Airfare glitches and errors usually derive from technical mistakes. It is smart to book these deals AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, because once the airline catches word they will shut them down. Fuel dumps are very similar in nature, but they involve adding a “ghost leg” to your flight. It’s all pretty complicated, you can read more about it here. But basically, it’s like booking a multi-destination flight with one or more trips that you don’t actually plan to take. Time is of the essence with these deals, as well. The more people who book them, the faster the airline will notice.
Once all the buying hype dies down, some carriers will cancel and refund flights. Some, on the other hand, take the loss and honor them. Either way, DO NOT call the airline to discuss the fares. I also advise that you book all deals directly through the airline. Lots of third party sites cancel due to their own private policies.
2. FOLLOW AIRFARE WEBSITES
I already have plenty of posts about booking on a budget in general. I’ve shared websites, apps, and strategies for minimizing all types of expenses. But if I had to choose a most important thing to know, I’d say knowing the right websites without any hesitation.
Sites like Skyscanner, Google Flights, and the ITA Software Matrix are great for planning out your next flight. Their flexible calendars and destination options make finding low prices super simple. Other sites like The Flight Deal, Secret Flying, and Airfare Watchdog are great for alerting you of great airfare deals. They list low prices from every location, to destinations both domestic and international. And they also offer very clear and detailed instructions on how to book your flight for the very best price.
3. JOIN A TRAVEL COMMUNITY
I’ve found so many great flights through my connections in travel groups. It truly is an advantage to have so many like-minded people together. Some groups plan trips and travel together, while others simply exchange information, never meeting in person. Some require small membership payments, but there are hundreds of free options. Here are a few travel groups I recommend. I would strongly advise you to join at least one, or ALL!
4. KEEP A TRAVEL STASH/FUND
Finally, the most important factor. What good is catching a great airfare price if you can’t afford to actually book it? It’s smart to have a small stash for your spur of the moment travel expenses. Saving as little as $50 each check can get you up to $1,300 in airfare funds for the year. I know that may not seem like a lot, but trust me it can get you a lot of places! If saving up cash isn’t an option for you, I would suggest opening a line of credit. Chase Bank, Capital One, and Bank of America offer pretty good travel credit cards. Another option that is equally efficient, is the less-known PayPal Credit option. If approved you can have up to a $5,000 limit, and all purchases over $99 are interest free for 6 months!
So that’s how you can book your next flight deal! Read even more glitch fare tips on World of a Wanderer’s blog!