11 Flight Booking Hacks Every Traveller Should Know

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Every frequent traveller has their own tricks for booking the best and cheapest flight possible. Luckily, some were willing to share their secrets on a Quora thread that asked, "what are the best flight booking hacks?"

Here are 11 tips that may make all the difference when you're trying to save money on a flight - from clearing your cookies before browsing to learning to embrace layovers.

Look at all your options

Quora user Saran Udayakumar, who has 45,000 miles in the sky under his belt, says that when he’s booking flights he makes sure to check travel search engines like Kayak, Priceline and Skyscanner, as well as airlines’ websites.

Going that extra step ensures getting the best deal out there. Plus, many travel search engines allow you to set price alerts for certain flights, which is a great way to keep track of fares.

However, keep in mind that when you book directly through an airline’s website and your flight gets canceled, you’ll have an easier time dealing with the airline — and getting rebooked — than you would if you had booked through a travel search engine.

Don’t be opposed to layovers

This may seem like an obvious one, but nonstop flights are typically more expensive than flights with layovers. So if you’re looking for the cheapest possible option, Udayakumar says to consider booking a flight with a layover.

Even better, look for a layover that’s long enough to allow you to leave the airport — it’s like taking two trips in one.

Clear your cookies or open an incognito tab before booking

According to Udayakumar, travel agencies and airlines often use your computer’s cookies to determine what kind of flight you’re interested in booking. Once they discover what you’re looking for, they will often raise prices accordingly.

To prevent this from happening, you can either clear your browser cache or just open an incognito tab before starting the booking process.

Book a connection you know you’re not going to make

This hack is better suited for risk takers, as it involves gambling with airlines. Udayakumar suggests booking a cheap flight with a super short connection time that’s almost impossible to make.

Before you even board your first flight, tell a gate agent that you’re worried about not making your connection, and ask them if they can rebook you onto a (more expensive) direct flight to your destination.

If it works, you just scored yourself a direct flight for a great price. If it doesn’t, well, you’re stuck with a connection you probably won’t make.

Don’t only rely on big-name airlines when flying internationally

According to Quora user Patrick Keane, some airlines you probably haven’t heard often offer the cheapest fares for transatlantic flights.

Fake your computer’s IP address to fudge your location

Flight prices differ widely from country to country, says Quora user and avid traveller Anya Mary. Often fares are cheaper in countries with lower living standards, so pretending you’re booking from, say, India can make all the difference.

An easy way to go about this is to mask your computer’s IP address with an Indian VPN to make it seem like you’re located in India. Just know that you’ll be purchasing that flight in rupees, so make sure to use a card without foreign transaction fees.

There is also the risk of accidentally booking a “resident-only” fare — meaning it can only be used by locals — but more often than not nobody checks to make sure that you are, in fact, a local.

Book a flight with a layover that’s actually your end destination

Quora user Gaurav Srivastava refers to this hack as “hidden city ticketing.” Here’s the example Srivastava uses to explain the trick: Say you’re flying from New York to Chicago and you find a cheap flight that goes from New York to Kentucky, but with a layover in Chicago (chances are a flight like this will be cheaper than a nonstop flight from New York to Chicago). Book that flight and then just disembark in Chicago (don’t board the connecting flight to Kentucky).

While doing this isn’t technically illegal, many airlines don’t allow it. There are websites to help you uncover these layovers (like skiplagged.com ), but make sure not to get caught, as airlines could also cancel your return trip. Plus, make sure not to check any bags!

Look out for “fifth-freedom flights”

Srivastava explains that the “fifth freedom refers to the right for an airline to carry revenue traffic between two foreign countries as part of a service connecting the airline’s home country.”

Here’s what that means in layman’s terms: Generally, airlines fly between their home country and other countries, but occasionally, because of layovers, they will have flights between two foreign countries. For example, a flight operated by Singapore Airlines from New York to Singapore with a layover in Frankfurt is a fifth freedom flight, because neither New York nor Frankfurt are the airline’s home country (that would be Singapore).

Why look out for these? While not necessarily cheaper, they are often better airlines and newer aeroplanes than what you would usually find on these routes.

Airlines are usually not allowed to list these fares on their website or on travel search engines, however, Fly Pointy End has a comprehensive list of such flights.

Book an early flight when you can

Turns out waking up at the crack of dawn for an early flight is worth it. Quora user Dan Birchall highlights a few reasons why.

First, if your flight is canceled you can easily be moved to a later flight. If you book the last flight of the day and it gets canceled, you’re stuck until the next day.

Second, if you book a flight that gets you to your destination early, and that flight is oversold, you can volunteer to get bumped, and then get rebooked onto a later flight, while also receiving flight vouchers, upgrades, lounge access, or even cash.

Consider booking one way tickets and flying into and out of different cities

While booking a round trip ticket in and out of the same city might seem like the easiest, most logical way to go, Quora user Jeff Mccoy says that it’s not always the cheapest. Sometimes, booking two one way tickets that arrive in and depart from different cities can save you a lot of money.

For example, let’s say you’re flying from Chicago to Düsseldorf, Germany. Maybe you fly into Düsseldorf, but then fly back to Chicago out of Cologne, since the two airports are only about a 45 minute drive from each other. So make sure to always research nearby airports.

Search for one-person flights even if you’re booking for multiple people

If the first search you perform for a flight is for multiple seats, the airline might hike up prices, McCoy says. So instead, start by searching for a flight for just one person, and look into booking for multiple people later.

[Via Quora]

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.


Comments

    In regards to hidden city ticketing...
    "but make sure not to get caught, as airlines could also cancel your return trip"

    It's kind of hard to not get caught when to make this work, you need to draw attention to yourself by not being there.

    Besides that, even if your return leg doesn't get cancelled, how are you going to get on the initial flight since you won't be in the right city anyway.

    Further to the 'Hidden City Ticketing'.
    Airlines have the right to cancel the entire rest of your ticket if you miss/skip a part of it- so this "hack" can only work if A) this is your flight home, or B) You've booked any further flights completely separately.
    This all means that you can't decide to drive a part of your trip instead, & meet the plane in the next city, as they will cancel your ticket

    Some out there tips.
    Still not clear what revenue traffic means for the 5th freedom flight, nor how to book... but nice to be educated.

    I like Skiplagged... not for the hidden ticketing thing, but for the way the results page is displayed, its super clean but all the key information is presented/laid out (e.g. flight duration, stop overs aren't hidden by text or pop ups, they are visually shown.

    Be aware of the location hack. Fees, taxes, and add-ons are sometimes included in price, that's why they are more expensive. Other countries make you pay when you arrive, therefore making it the same price, sometimes more expensive because you haven't pre-paid.

    45,000 miles isn't exactly a lot of air travel.....

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