Author Topic: How to save money on flights?  (Read 6132 times)

LadyMustache

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How to save money on flights?
« on: October 18, 2017, 11:36:18 AM »

My husband's brother is getting married next summer and we very much want to fly "home" from the US to the UK for the wedding. I've just checked the cost of flights and it's going to cost $7000! And that's just for the flights - two adults, three kids. We also need to pay for car hire over there, plus someone to watch our dog in the US.

Any good travel hacking ideas? We can fly with Virgin, Delta, American. They're all pretty much the same cost... The thought of putting $700 aside each month for the next ten months just to blow it on flights makes me want to weep :)

SKL-HOU

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2017, 11:44:40 AM »
Turkish Airlines. They have very good rates. You would have a stop in Istanbul.

dandarc

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2017, 11:51:14 AM »
Without more details, hard to say anything specific, but I see there are New York to London flights for under $3K total for 5 people round-trip I can find from Kayak.com in summer 2018.  In June, I saw deals on Icelandair, in late August, British Airways.  Don't know what your dates are - but you should be flexible to get best deals.  Shifting your flight a day or two can make a big difference.

So, that's one recommendation - do the "big hop" from a major city, and then figure out some other way to get to the major city.  When we went to Italy, we flew from Jacksonville to New York on Jet Blue, then from New York to Milan on Alitalia.  Was under $600 each total for flights.

As far as travel hacking, you have enough time to possibly do some of this with miles, so figure your game plan out and apply for some credit cards.  I understand United has good deals for cross-pond flights paid with miles.  And the southwest deal is good for domestic airfare.

catccc

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2017, 12:01:33 PM »
We did a British airways vacation package for my family of 4 for $3,094 total, booked in December 2016 for April 2017 travel.  We flew from NY to London, London to Paris, and then flew from Paris to NY, plus had pretty snazzy 4 star accommodations in both cities, 6 nights total.  Our of curiosity, before I booked, I priced the flights right on British Airway's website, and the exact same itinerary was significantly more than our package.  Go figure.  Obviously the UK is big and IDK if you are anywhere near london, but it's worth checking out.  We also drove 2+ hours, maybe 1.25 hours further than the closest airport, to get a better price.


lbmustache

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2017, 12:15:07 PM »
Use Momondo or Google Flights. Set up a price alert so you can see when prices drop. They will also have fare calendars that show you cheaper days to fly in/out. I would say you should be able to get tickets for half that, if not a bit lower.

bacchi

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2017, 03:25:32 PM »
As far as travel hacking, you have enough time to possibly do some of this with miles, so figure your game plan out and apply for some credit cards.  I understand United has good deals for cross-pond flights paid with miles.  And the southwest deal is good for domestic airfare.

Yeah, playing the card bonus miles game is the way to do this.

Chase United is 50k miles with some spend.

The Barclay Aviator is 60k AA miles from the first purchase + annual fee.

Both adults get the cards and then fly United there and AA back.


FireHiker

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2017, 04:14:55 PM »
I have had very good luck setting my desired route in Airfarewatchdog and then booking when a sale hits. We have flights next April from LAX to Amsterdam on British Airways that I snagged when the sale price was $470 each (though with my Chase UR points I got it down to $281 each). Four days later I checked on google flights and the exact same flights were $970. This has worked for me 3 times now, wonderfully.

I'm not sure what your departure city is, but consider other airports nearby that may have cheaper prices too. For instance, I fly out of LAX even though it's further away, because the flights are half what they would be from my local airport.

Another thing to consider, if Wow or Norwegian fly near your departure city, they go to Europe and are CHEAP. Of course, they are no frills and you'll have some extra fees, but my friends recently flew to Germany for under $500 a person using Wow and were pretty happy with the experience. Expectation management is important for flying on an airline like Wow though.


kpd905

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2017, 11:56:23 AM »
If you plan to book soon and don't have time to build up airline miles, you could each open a Barclays Arrival+ card and purchase the flights on those cards.  You can then use the points from the sign up bonuses to subtract $900 from the cost of the flights, essentially using the points as a statement credit to zero out those charges.  The bonus for that card is normally 50,000 points, which would increase your value to $1120 with two cards.

BrightFIRE

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2017, 12:10:21 PM »
As far as travel hacking, you have enough time to possibly do some of this with miles, so figure your game plan out and apply for some credit cards.  I understand United has good deals for cross-pond flights paid with miles.  And the southwest deal is good for domestic airfare.

Yeah, playing the card bonus miles game is the way to do this.

Chase United is 50k miles with some spend.

The Barclay Aviator is 60k AA miles from the first purchase + annual fee.

Both adults get the cards and then fly United there and AA back.

That's not going to work for a family of 5. For a round trip in economy, you'd need 60k miles pp, so 300k total, and that's assuming availability. Most airlines don't release 5 award seats on the same flight. It would be better to get a card that has a flexible currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards or the Barclay Arrival to knock down some of the cost. The idea to travel from large city to large city and then make a connection to a smaller city is a good one, too.

However, I'd suggest waiting. It's too early for most airlines to put flights on sale for next summer. Keep an eye on fares and jump on anything good, but I wouldn't expect to make the purchase until January or February. Right now most fare sales are only going through next February or March. I check The Flight Deal every day for sales, and I check neighboring markets I can drive to as well as the city I live in.

For car rentals, check out EuropCar.

boarder42

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2017, 12:48:16 PM »
you've got time - sign up for credit cards.

i'd go with delta or united b/c American is partnered with BA and they have pretty high fuel surcharges - plus the heathrow fees.

Rcc

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2017, 02:56:49 PM »
Use Momondo or Google Flights. Set up a price alert so you can see when prices drop. They will also have fare calendars that show you cheaper days to fly in/out. I would say you should be able to get tickets for half that, if not a bit lower.

Agreed here and with SKL-HOU. I just priced a flight from (home) to London with 6 adults next month for a week. Turkish airlines came in lowest @ 4010. Others 6k range.

The price alerts may help with seeing how prices shift with such a long lead time.

bacchi

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 04:12:17 PM »
As far as travel hacking, you have enough time to possibly do some of this with miles, so figure your game plan out and apply for some credit cards.  I understand United has good deals for cross-pond flights paid with miles.  And the southwest deal is good for domestic airfare.

Yeah, playing the card bonus miles game is the way to do this.

Chase United is 50k miles with some spend.

The Barclay Aviator is 60k AA miles from the first purchase + annual fee.

Both adults get the cards and then fly United there and AA back.

That's not going to work for a family of 5. For a round trip in economy, you'd need 60k miles pp, so 300k total, and that's assuming availability. Most airlines don't release 5 award seats on the same flight. It would be better to get a card that has a flexible currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards or the Barclay Arrival to knock down some of the cost. The idea to travel from large city to large city and then make a connection to a smaller city is a good one, too.

With 2 adults, that's 100k United miles and 120k AA miles. Get the Citi AA card as well for 220k total AA miles.

True, there won't be enough awards availability on a single flight but they could get awards tickets for 1-3 people and pay cash for the rest. Even 2 awards tickets are worth more than the $625 from the Chase Portal. Because tickets are refundable for 24 hours, it makes it easy to "purchase" the award tickets and then buy seats on the same flight.

Or, as suggested, use the points to get to JFK and then pay cash from there.

historienne

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 07:05:11 PM »
What specific airports are you trying to fly into and out of?  And approximately what dates?

We fly US/UK pretty frequently (my husband's family is all over there as well), and those kind of prices are extremely high in comparison to anything we've typically paid.

ETA - we usually fly WDC to LON. Multiple airport choices at both ends, lots of flights, so that helps - but I'm not seeing any dates next summer where you can't do that for under $800 pp.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 07:07:47 PM by historienne »

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2017, 04:26:25 AM »
Biggest tip I can give is to use Kayak.com and choose the +/- 3 days options. Generally fares on Tues & Weds are cheaper. Most fares are cheaper 2 weeks in advance. Always check flights on Mon-Weds.

The UK is expensive, suck it up. Your only other real option is leave kids behind. If you want to take them to Europe cheaply fly during off-peak times in places you donít need to rent cars and where you can control your schedule.

boarder42

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2017, 05:07:40 AM »
Biggest tip I can give is to use Kayak.com and choose the +/- 3 days options. Generally fares on Tues & Weds are cheaper. Most fares are cheaper 2 weeks in advance. Always check flights on Mon-Weds.

The UK is expensive, suck it up. Your only other real option is leave kids behind. If you want to take them to Europe cheaply fly during off-peak times in places you donít need to rent cars and where you can control your schedule.

or to travel hack that is another real option that was mentioned above.  Just because something is expensive doesnt mean it has to cost you alot of money - optimize optimize optimize.

boarder42

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2017, 05:33:46 AM »
So with a few Delta Cards you could make this happen.  You need 300k points and 926 bucks to fly roundtrip to london. - you could also fly to a different country and avoid the heathrow fees - they are what drive this up to 926.

How do you get 300k points?

1. Delta Gold - spend 2k in 3 months get 50k points 1k additional gets you 60k miles

2. Delta Platinum - spend 3k in 3 months get 70k miles - has 200 dollar annual fee not waived the first year. but with your first delta purchase you can get a 100 dollar statement credit so you simply buy a 100 dollar gift card and use that towards your flight fees.

if you and your husband each get one of these cards you'll have 136k points each. 

So to add to this you'd need to get one more roundtrip at 60k miles.  You could do this with the Delta Gold Business -

so now you've got enough points to make this work if you can spend the money.

There is an easy way to spend this money.

1. Go to Top Cash Back and creat an account if you dont have one.
2. Search for Gift card mall .com   
3. use link to go to gift card mall
4. at gift card mall select custom card
5. upload a picture
6. buy 2 - 500 dollar gift cards the first 3 times - after the first 3 times you can do 3- 500 per time
7. gift cards will be mailed to you
8. go to Walmart and ask to buy a money order for 999.30 - there is a 70c fee so this will make it 1k even
9. Tell the walmart rep that you have a 500 dollar limit on your debit card and that you need to do 500 per swipe.
10. walmart rep will key in 500. 
11. swipe your first card - pin is the last 4 digits
12. swipe your second card
13. walmart rep will give you money order
14. deposit money order in bank
15. pay off your credit card with your bank account

The best part is you will actually make money doing this.  each 500 dollar gift card has a 6.95 fee plus you have the 70c per 1k money order -  so total cost per 1k of manufactured spend is 14.60.  But you went thru top cash back and though it says 1% on Gift card orders its actually 2% for the custom cards -  so you will get 20 bucks back - making you 5.40 per transaction.

This is the most mustachian way to make this trip. - i would take it a step further and possibly fly in early to a different airport and take a train down to london.  I'd also make a family vacation out of it and see the country while you're there.


MrThatsDifferent

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2017, 02:03:35 PM »
@Boarder42: I get travel hacking, but damn, that seems like a bit of work. Would that give them enough points to fly the whole family or just one person?

dandarc

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2017, 02:06:27 PM »
@Boarder42: I get travel hacking, but damn, that seems like a bit of work. Would that give them enough points to fly the whole family or just one person?
It is applying for 5 credit cards total (2 for one adult, 3 for the other) and then ensuring they hit the spend requirements on all of them.  Probably like 1-10 hours total depending on how close they are to a walmart.

10 hours to save $2,000 - $6,000 on a trip they're going to make (family wedding - I know you don't have to, but this isn't just some random vacation either) is a pretty good trade for most.

Runge

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2017, 02:18:43 PM »
@Boarder42: I get travel hacking, but damn, that seems like a bit of work. Would that give them enough points to fly the whole family or just one person?
It is applying for 5 credit cards total (2 for one adult, 3 for the other) and then ensuring they hit the spend requirements on all of them.  Probably like 1-10 hours total depending on how close they are to a walmart.

10 hours to save $2,000 - $6,000 on a trip they're going to make (family wedding - I know you don't have to, but this isn't just some random vacation either) is a pretty good trade for most.


Did this exact same thing to fly to SE Asia about 2 years go. Saved roughly $4000 or so...totally worth it for the small amount of effort. Although we were able to hit the minimum spends without a lot of churning. Had some home renovations going on that I took advantage of.

I also second the notion of avoiding American rewards for US-European travel. The fees are outrageous and the vast majority of flights are BA through Heathrow. We were looking at about $300 in fees per seat on our recent Euro trip. Luckily we found a different airline.

MrSal

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2017, 02:28:12 PM »

My husband's brother is getting married next summer and we very much want to fly "home" from the US to the UK for the wedding. I've just checked the cost of flights and it's going to cost $7000! And that's just for the flights - two adults, three kids. We also need to pay for car hire over there, plus someone to watch our dog in the US.

Any good travel hacking ideas? We can fly with Virgin, Delta, American. They're all pretty much the same cost... The thought of putting $700 aside each month for the next ten months just to blow it on flights makes me want to weep :)

where are you flying from, where to and when?

it shouldnt cost you more than 2500-3500 dollars ... the higher interval being high season.

Something is wrong there ...

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2017, 02:31:09 PM »
@Boarder42: I get travel hacking, but damn, that seems like a bit of work. Would that give them enough points to fly the whole family or just one person?
It is applying for 5 credit cards total (2 for one adult, 3 for the other) and then ensuring they hit the spend requirements on all of them.  Probably like 1-10 hours total depending on how close they are to a walmart.

10 hours to save $2,000 - $6,000 on a trip they're going to make (family wedding - I know you don't have to, but this isn't just some random vacation either) is a pretty good trade for most.

Cool. Iím outside the US, we donít have this as an option. Definitely seems worth the effort then if it covers the whole family.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2017, 02:36:12 PM »
We did a British airways vacation package for my family of 4 for $3,094 total, booked in December 2016 for April 2017 travel.  We flew from NY to London, London to Paris, and then flew from Paris to NY, plus had pretty snazzy 4 star accommodations in both cities, 6 nights total.  Our of curiosity, before I booked, I priced the flights right on British Airway's website, and the exact same itinerary was significantly more than our package.  Go figure.  Obviously the UK is big and IDK if you are anywhere near london, but it's worth checking out.  We also drove 2+ hours, maybe 1.25 hours further than the closest airport, to get a better price.

It is not uncommon for BA holidays to be less than the flight. You can book a car hire with a BA holiday rather than a hotel room, which can also bring down the cost.

Flying to a UK regional airport, even via London, can be cheaper than just flying to London. Similarly, it can be cheaper to fly to Paris or Amsterdam, with a long stopover in London on the way there, then have an evening in Paris before flying back to London and then home.

There are (have been?) additional security restrictions if you go via Istanbul.

boarder42

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2017, 07:20:06 AM »
yeah its not really too much work just make sure you're organized and track it all.  Its really quite easy.  We havent paid to fly anywhere in 8 years. 

clarkfan1979

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Re: How to save money on flights?
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2017, 10:28:45 AM »
I fly Hawaii to Denver  often. Prices tend to drop about 3 months before the departure date and then again 2-3 weeks before the departure date.  If you book 10 months out, it's typically expensive.

Try to book an airline that has some sort of re-booking policy. For Alaska Airlines, we can re-book if the price drops on our flight. We get a credit for the difference. We can do it unlimited times.   

Southwest has the best policy for this. You can actually re-book onto different flights without penalty, as long as you do it yourself on-line. I don't understand why every airline isn't like this?