Matt Forney
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How to Save Money on Airfare

airfare

Flights don’t have to be expensive. With a bit of research and planning, you can fly across the country—and the world—for cheaper than you thought possible. In this video, I give you some tips and tricks for saving money on airfare.

Remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more updates. Video transcript by Eve Penman.

Transcript

Well, hello there, kids. I’m Matt Forney and in this video I want to talk a bit more about how you can save money on airfare. Now, whenever you travel somewhere, the biggest expense, single biggest expense you’re always going to have to deal with is the flight. You can save money on on-the-ground transportation, you can save money on lodging, on food and other places, but whenever you fly somewhere you’re always going to end up paying a lot of money, but there are ways you can reduce what you end up paying on airfare and avoid having to get reamed.

So I have a few tips and tricks that you can use to save money on airfare, especially if you’re going to travel overseas. Overseas travel, particularly if you live in the U.S., is incredibly expensive, but you can save a lot of money and avoid spending more than you have to.

Now, the first tip I have is, it may seem kind of obvious, but when it comes to any flight you always need to book well in advance. Minimum, you have to book a minimum of one month before you’re going to fly, and preferably awhile before that. Because the closer you get to your flight date, not only will the good flights be sold out, the law of supply and demand means that you’ll be paying—the prices for existing tickets will go up. You’ll increase the likelihood that you’ll be stuck on a really undesirable flight that leaves in the middle of the morning, get a million transfers, it’s not fun at all.

Here’s an example of a really dumb decision I made. A few months ago I went to Las Vegas to hang with some of my friends. Because of various communication difficulties, we couldn’t work out a hard time for the flight date, so I ended up booking one on my own. I ended up paying—I booked maybe a couple weeks before I was scheduled to leave. I ended up paying about $950 round trip.

My flight there from Syracuse was, I had two transfers, I left Syracuse at, like, 5:30 in the morning. I went to, I think it was LaGuardia in New York City, and then I had to fly to Detroit, and then only when I got to Detroit was I able to fly to Vegas. And the flight back was really horrendous as well. I had left Vegas at around 10:30 at night. I arrived back in New York City around 6:30 in the morning, a red eye flight so I wasn’t able to get any sleep, and then a two-hour layover. I was on a flight to Syracuse at like, I think it was 10:00 a.m., something ridiculous like this or that.

So the earlier you book your flight, the more likely you’ll be able to get a more desirable flight at a better time and you’ll also be paying less for it.

Now, number two is this method that was taught to me by a coworker of mine who used to work as a flight attendant or a stewardess. She gave me a three-point, a three-step method for getting good deals from domestic airlines, for domestic flights anyway. I don’t know if this works as well for international flights, but I have a separate method for international flights.

Number one, you should always buy the tickets online on a Tuesday. I never got her to explain this to me, but for some reason airline tickets are always lowest on Tuesdays for some reason. So whenever you want to order a ticket, do it on a Tuesday.

Number two, don’t go to Expedia, don’t go to Travelocity, don’t go to any of these travel sites. Go to the airline directly and buy your tickets direct from the airline. If you’re not sure which one you want to fly, go to the website of the airport that you’re going to be flying out of. Make sure to see which airlines serve that airport, and go to one of those airlines and get the flights there. And you want to do this because you obviously want to make sure that the airline that you end up flying out of actually serves it, whatever.

For example, I went to New Orleans nearly a year ago for Mardi Gras. I was going to be in New York City for about a few days before, so I booked my flight to New Orleans on Southwest, which serves LaGuardia, but when I was booking my return flight to upstate New York, I found that Southwest does not serve the area that I happen to live in, so I had to book a separate one-way flight through, I think it was Delta. So, you don’t want to end up with something like that. So go to the airline directly, and make sure the airline actually services the airports that you’re planning on flying in and out of.

And, number three, when you are looking at the flights on the airline website, you need to make a decision right then and there, because those websites record your IP address and they will start raising the prices if you don’t buy almost immediately. Again, I saw this when I was going to buy tickets for New Orleans.

When I was on Delta’s website, there was a one-way flight to Syracuse from New Orleans that I ended up buying. When I first saw it, when I first started browsing, it was $450. Five minutes later after I decided to stop browsing and get that flight, they raised the price on me to $500. This is in the span of five minutes.

So you need to, one, buy your tickets on Tuesday; two, go directly to the airline; and, three, you need to buy them quickly otherwise your IP address will be logged and you’ll end up having to pay a higher price.

And, number three, and I’ve really used this more for international flights, but I’ve also used it for some domestic flights. It’s very helpful. This website called Skyscanner. Skyscanner.com, there’s a link to it in the description. Skyscanner is not a, they’re not a travel agency. What they do is they collate airline tickets for a specific flight, from every known ticket provider to get, like, Expedia, Travelocity, various other smaller operators such as Bravofly, Omega Flight Store, and FlyFar.ca, as well as from the airlines themselves. If you wanted to, say, fly to, I don’t know, New York—you want to fly from, say, New York City to Tokyo, on a specific day. You punch it into Skyscanner and you get all of the flights that are going from New York City to Tokyo, all the prices, and at all the times. So you can find very, very—you can find very great deals going this way.

I booked my flight to the Philippines here, both flights, as well as my flight back via tickets I found on Skyscanner. I ended up paying about $1,000 for a one-way ticket from Chicago to Davao City, and I’m paying about, I think, $750 for a flight from Manila to Chicago.

And it’s a very desirable flight too, because, what is it, oh, I fly from Manila to Tokyo, there’s only a two-hour layover to Tokyo, and then I just fly direct to Chicago, and then when I’m in Chicago I get another flight to Syracuse. So you’re not going to end up, you know, sitting in the same airport for 12 hours doing nothing or have to go to the transit hotel.

So I was able to get a very good flight at a very good price. I also bought the tickets well in advance, so that helps too. Basically, Skyscanner is very, very, very helpful in getting cheap prices.

Now, what you want to be careful of is before you immediately go to Skyscanner and buy the cheapest ticket that you find, you want to make sure, you want to research who you’re actually buying it from. Because a lot of the operators that hawk tickets via Skyscanner are not reliable. You get a lot of bad reviews from places like Bravofly, Omega Flight Store.

I bought my tickets, the tickets I got to here going to the Philippines, I got them through FlyFar.ca, which I had a pleasant experience with them, but the thing is, they didn’t email me the tickets like they were supposed to. The day before I was set to leave I had to call them on my cell phone and have them—and speak with the customer service representative for ten minutes before she sent me the tickets, which if I hadn’t taken that proactive step I would have probably missed my flight.

So before you buy any tickets via a Skyscanner repository, you have to make sure that the place you’re buying them from is reliable. You do not want to get stuck with a, say, an $800 flight that you won’t be able to use.

And also, like with point number two, the advice I gave there, if you can it’s better to get the tickets direct from the airline than from one of the intermediary sites like Expedia. Because if you get them from the airline, you are guaranteed to get them, you will fly, unless there’s a cancellation obviously, but you don’t have to deal with a middleman. So, remember, just do your research and don’t make any rash decisions.

And, number four, this isn’t really advice but it’s sort of pursuant to—it’s very helpful particularly if you’re going to be flying overseas. Never, ever, ever, fly an American airline overseas. Never. Always go with an international one. And the reason for this is quite simply: American airlines absolutely suck. We are getting screwed as Americans. Fly Delta, fly United, fly JetBlue, all of them pale in comparison to—and I’ve flown on SilkAir, Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways. I’ve flown on Philippine Airlines.

Every single airline here in Asia beats the shit out of American airlines. Any American airline. So, if you are going to be flying overseas, make sure you book anything other than an American airline, okay. And maybe a Canadian airline, I don’t have experience flying Air Canada or any of the Canadian airlines, but basically avoid North American airlines for flying overseas.

So with all these tips you’ll be able to get good deals on airfare. You’ll be able to fly, you’ll have a much more pleasant experience flying and you can maybe vacation a bit more. I mean, a lot of people look at me as like, how can you afford living in the Philippines, dude, how can you afford to fly to the Philippines? It’s like, dude, I’ve seen them do it, it’s not that expensive, you know. I’m not some rich dude. I’m just a thrifty consumer and I’m a smart entrepreneur.

So, basically, use these tips and not only will you spend less money on traveling, you’ll have a much more pleasant experience when you are flying. Illegitimi non carborundum, don’t let the bastards grind you down. I’m Matt Forney and I am out.

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  • SkyScanner is a useful tool. I’ll sometimes find a flight there and then go to the airline’s website and book directly.

  • Sean

    2 things.

    1) Air Canada sucks. Most people fly WestJet domestically here just because it’s not Air Canada. Entitled, arrogant French sky waitresses who just *love* to put that scowl on for the entire duration.

    2) As bad as Air Canada is, Asiana is really, really amazing. Their hub is Seoul but you can fly from LAX to stopover places like Manila, HK, Guangzhou, etc. Took them to GZ in 2010: free alcohol, real food on real plates with real china/silverware. There isn’t much like Korean burritos (bimbabab) with free beer with a real metal fork whilst 7 miles up in the air. Plus astoundingly hot Korean sky waitresses make it the best roundtrip flight I’ve ever had anywhere.

  • Sounds like Singapore Airlines. On my flight from L.A. to Tokyo, they must have fed us three separate meals with complementary Singapore Slings. Then we got three more meals from Tokyo to Singapore. Also: entertainment kiosks with Mad Men, New Girl, dozens of movies and the original Fallout games installed.

  • I had a really good similar experience on Thai Air. Also had decent trips on Turkish Air and Lufthansa is always good.

  • This piece is on the money. Skyscanner is a god send. There are a few regional budget airlines they don’t always have although they pick up me of them. If you’re going regional it pays to ask some locals which ones to check out. For example in Thailand there is Thai Lion Air which is not on skyscanner but about half the price of anything else.