#the cheapest airfare
Cheapest airfare for international flights
For international flights, don’t count on the search engines
Search engines like Hipmunk and Kayak are great for finding flights within the U.S. but sometimes they’re not so good for international flights, especially those that start or end in exotic places like Asia, India, or Africa. That’s because not all foreign airlines make their fares available to the search engines, and even those which do sometimes don’t list their best fares. International engines like Momondo. Skyscanner. and Mobissimo sometimes do better, but even they sometimes miss fares offered by certain airlines.
So what do you do? First off, try a travel agent in the country you’re visiting. Yes, a travel agent. Years ago you stopped using travel agents for domestic flights because you realized you could get the best fares yourself online. (Either that, or you’re so young you never used a travel agent in the first place.) Well, that goes out the window as soon as you’re talking international fares. Case in point: Once the best fare I could get for Japan to India (Osaka to Delhi) from Kayak, Orbitz, etc. was $1641. I walked across the street to a travel agent in Osaka and got a price of $1108 a whopping $538 savings. (And yes, that budget price included taxes and all applicable fees.)
I had a similar experience in India, trying to get a flight to Hong Kong. I spent hours on the net and I think the best I could come up with was around $1200. I mentioned my problem to the hotel staff, and they said they were sure they could arrange a ticket for me. I asked them to go ahead, and sure enough, they did, for around $566 — less than half price! (I tipped appropriately.) The point is, you just can’t expect all international flights to show up in the search engines.
If you go this route you need to make sure that you’re not being scammed by buying a fake ticket, and that’s especially true in India. But as long as you work with staff at a hotel you should be okay, because if they scammed you then you could tell the police exactly who they were, so they’re not likely to do so. Just don’t buy from someone who doesn’t have a permanent business location.
(Incidentally, those tickets I just mentioned were all before I stopped flying, because flying causes climate change . Now I travel by train and cargo ship, and I bought carbon offsets for the travel I already took.)
Next tip: Check the price at the airlines directly. Find the airlines that serve the country you’re flying to or from. (Use Bing or Google.) You can then check the airlines’ websites or call them to get fares, which will often be substantially cheaper than what you can find in the search engines. One Australian reader says that he saved $200 by going directly to Qantas over what he could find on Kayak and the other engines.
Finally, our general tips for getting cheap airfare apply to international fares as well. For example, round-trips are often cheaper than one-ways for some inexplicable reason, so if you’re planning an around-the-world trip full of one-ways, you might save by buying roundtrip tickets and then not using the return trip. Also, remember that when you insist on flying on certain days you’ll usually pay more, so if your schedule is flexible,pick your travel destination first. and then find the cheapest travel dates for that destination. If you start your research with hard-wired dates in hand, you’re unilkely to get the best deal.
[an error occurred while processing this directive] U.S. to Bermuda, Cancun, etc. USA3000 offers service between select U.S. cities and Bermuda, Cancun, La Romana, Puerto Plata, and Punta Cana. In Sept. 2004 we checked and found a roundtrip fare between Baltimore and Bermuda for $160 (!), while the best Orbitz could find was closer to $400.
Other international sites
Other sites we found which have good international fares are:
- Anywhere to anywhere: Skyscanner (reportedly very good with European flights, and lets you search for flights to or from an entire country, without having to enter the city)
- Momondo’s flexible dates feature is awesome. It gives you a GRAPH showing the price for every single day in any month you choose. Sweet! Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t always work, though.
Tip for flying into Europe
Kelly Fine writes: “We found that it was much cheaper to fly to London on one airline and fly from London to the Continent on another airline. This seemed to be true no matter what city in Europe we wanted to go to. And it was impossible to find a cheap flight from anywhere to Bratislava, so we found a flight to Vienna, which is only a little over an hour by bus from Bratislava. Flying into central and eastern Europe is much more expensive than flying to western Europe.”
Courier travel: A thing of the past
For years I used to mention the great deals you could get as a courier, by carrying documents or packages in exchange for a deeply discounted fare. But over the years I had to slowly remove the courier websites from my list one at a time as they went out of business, and now there are pretty much none left. Well, there might be a couple, but they can’t really save you any money.
So what happened?
- The Internet now lets companies send documents quickly and cheaply, so fewer couriers are needed.
- Post 9/11 regulations make it harder to transport items that aren’t actually yours.
- The fact that airlines now charge for checked baggage makes courier travel a worse deal (both for the courier company as well as for the traveler).
- Travelers now have easy access to discounted fares through the Internet, so they can already save a lot compared to what they might have had to pay in the past.
Here’s a good article from MSNBC which explains the change. Sorry, the party’s over.
Thanks for visiting, and I hope you liked the site. I’ll leave you with a couple of hand-picked ads.
Posted In: NEWS