Tricks to find cheaper flights
The first price you see for a flight is not the best price. Even if you use a search engine like kayak.com or google/flights to sort through all the flights by lowest price, there might still be cheaper options if you take an extra step or two beyond what these search engines are capable of calculating. Often you don’t have the flexibility to wait for the best price, and tricks like “hidden city pricing” no longer work as well because airlines (except Europe), will cancel all remaining legs, which will leave you stranded. Here are some tricks which work and give you more flexibility.
Round-trip within a Round-trip
If you’re planning to travel a long distance, for example from the West Coast to the East Coast, a direct flight is obviously going to be more expensive. If you choose to take a layover, it will save you some money, but you end up with just a few hours at a hub city that the airline sends to you. A better way is to create your own layover. You can do this by booking two round trip tickets; the first trip takes you to a city somewhere in between your start point and final destination, while the second trip takes you from the bonus layover city to your final destination.
Nesting a round trip ticket within another round trip ticket can save you money. The reason this works is because shorter distance flights are cheaper due to higher traveler volumes. So you can find a budget airline or the supply/demand dynamics just end up with the first trip being cheaper. The same thing applies to the second trip.
You do need a little bit of flexibility and set aside time to explore the bonus city because if you try to book the second trip right after landing on the first flight, you might not get a cheaper price. The wait is where you can find extra savings. For example, I once saved 25% by flying from San Francisco, California to Orlando, Florida with my nested city in Houston, Texas.
VPN cheap one-way deals
Sometimes airlines will offer really cheap one way promotional deals such as $100 to Europe (I’ve seen as low as $69). You might wonder how they can even cover fuel costs? Well, once you get excited about the great $100 deal and start making your booking, you realize that you need to return home, so you look for a return flight and it’s worth $500, but at this point, you’re already so excited about going to Europe, that you decide it’s still worth it, even though the real price is $600 round trip, or average $300 per way.
One way to work around the system is to realize that they must be offering the same “deal” to everybody else, with the same expensive return trip. You can take advantage of this by pretending to be in another country using a VPN pointed to your destination. Now that you’ve virtually traveled to Europe, you can look up the same amazing $100 deals to America. You can save over 50% on the standard price. I haven’t had a chance to use this trick yet, but I do use VPNs sometimes because airlines charge different prices to different people, which leads to the next tip.
VPN to get real prices
Airlines and search engines will offer different prices to different people depending on how you interact with the service. If you use an App, you’ll see a different price than the website. If you use an iPhone, you’ll see a different price than an Android user. Search frequently using the same device, and prices will go up (no, it’s not because a seat was sold). Search from a developed country and pay more. All the different ways which the computer systems try to identify you are extensive, but a quick way to reduce all these algorithms from inflating your ticket price is to turn on a VPN. This “resets” the price to the real price.
Unless you’re flying on a really small airline in a developing world country where they list one price, all other airlines try their hardest to price discriminate, which means each person on the airplane is paying a different price for the same seats. It’s definitely possible to be be on the low end of the price range.