EP009: Secrets on Scoring Cheap Airfares, Budget Airlines and Inexpensive Days

In this episode, we’ll be teaching you how to score cheap airfares directly from the airlines, no gimmack or tricks.  We’ll also cover the issue with budget airlines and cheap days to fly along with great advice from our viewers.

  • Geographic Fares
  • Low Budget Carriers (When and When Not to Fly)
  • Red Eye Flights and Cheapest Dates to Fly
  • Other Ways to Save from Our Viewers

Geographic Differential Fares

This is a very little know open secret, many airlines especially in developing countries price their fares in accordance to countries where you are booking the tickets.  In almost every cases, if you are booking let’s say a domestic fare with Egyptair, the price are much higher if you were to choose “United States” version than “Egypt” version of their homepage.  One reason for this geographic differential or discrimination is that fact we all know all airlines want to maximum their profit, and given U.S. has much higher income, the airlines can set a higher price point while it still offer lower fares to capture local Egypt residences with lower price points.  This is my favorite method of scoring lower fares, typical you are expected to save 50% to 70% off the published price on U.S. or European version of the airline website.  I also like this method since I can purchase the ticket directly from the airline’s own website.  So, let’s get started!

We searched for Luxor to Cairo to see which carrier offers this route.
We searched for Luxor to Cairo to see which carrier offers this route.
  • Step 1: Use your favorite booking site such as Expedia, Skyscanner, Vayama or Flighthub to check the published price and the list of the carrier for the desired route.  For example: we wanted to fly from Luxor (LUX) to Cairo (CAI) for September 8 and discover Egyptair offers this route.
We check the price of the route on the "United States" version on the airline homepage.
We check the price of the route on the “United States” version on the airline homepage.
We are generated the price of $107 USD for United States residences.
We are generated the price of $107 USD for United States version of Egyptair homepage
  • Step 2: We’ll check the airlines’ homepage directly and for comparison chosen the “United States” as location.  In this case, we’ll be searching the Luxor to Cairo route on September 8 to get a price in U.S. Dollars.
For Egyptair's Egypt homepage, for the price the same Luxor to Cairo route are quoted in the local currency of Egyptian Pound
For Egyptair’s Egypt homepage, for the price the same Luxor to Cairo route are quoted in the local currency of Egyptian Pound
  • Step 3: Go back to the homepage and select another location on the airlines’ website and search for the same flight.  In this case, I’ll selected “Egypt” version on the Egyptair homepage and search for the same route.  It quoted me the total price in Egyptian Pound (EGP) of 343.00
Use a currency exchange tool to see converted price in your currency.
Use a currency exchange tool to see converted price in your currency.
  • Step 4: Use website like xe.com or simply use Google to see the price in your own currency.  In this case, we use Google to convert the 343 Egyptian Pound (EGP) to U.S. Dollars, which gives us $44.00 as of September 2, 2015.  A saving of 58%!!!

Other Examples:

Avianca - US
The price for Lima (LIM) to Cusco (CUZ) for U.S. location is $187.64 on Avianca
The price quoted for Peru version is only $92.00 USD for the same flight
The price quoted for Peru version is only $92.00 USD for the same flight

However, the downside is not all airlines practice geographic pricing discrimination.  At the time of writing this articles, we can confirmed that in additional to Egyptair and Avianca, Air China, TAN, Aeromexico, all conduct such pricing practice.  One roadblock you might encounter is not all airlines regional websites are offered in English and you will have to use Google Translate or similar services to convert part of the sites to English.

Low Budget Airlines

It is so true you pay what you get for, same goes with the airlines.  In most cases, budget airlines always are lesser expensive than traditional carrier.  However, you will be billed for absolutely everything, including seat selection, meals, check-in luggage, and one carrier Ryan Air even charges approximately €15/£15/$22 for issuing boarding pass and €45/£45/$60 for airport check in, so these fees can actually eat up your savings.  Let’s take example when and when not to use them.

Malaysia Airlines fares are $311.00 USD for Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Melborne (MEL)
Malaysia Airlines fares are $311.00 USD for Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Melborne (MEL)

The cost for regular fare economy fare for Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne cost $311.00 all-inclusive, which includes in flight meals, 2 pieces check-in luggage with combined weight up to 50 kg or 110 lb.

Air Asia charges $153 for the same route.
Air Asia charges $153 for the same route.

With Air Asia, the base price is $127 + $26 for one 25 kg check in and $3.00 processing fee ended up $153 USD.  Even though you are foregoing reclining seats and extra legroom on Air Asia.  It is almost 50% savings from Malaysia Airlines fare.  However, one warning is that if you missed your flight, there is absolutely no refund, you can only claim the airport taxes and re-book a future flight.  Now, let’s talk about when NOT to use a discount carrier.

Air Asia charged total of $23 for trip for Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Penang (PEN)
Air Asia charged total of $23 for trip for Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Penang (PEN)

The lowest fares we can find for Kuala Lumpur is $12.00, along with $11 for check-in bags, and $2.00 for credit card fees which all comes up to $25.

Malaysia Airlines actually charges $23.00, $2.00 less than Air Asia
Malaysia Airlines actually charges $23.00, $2.00 less than Air Asia

Wow, what’s going here?  Malaysia Airlines, the flag carrier actually charges less than discounted carrier and you’ll get a free meals too!  Don’t be surprised, many times a major carrier actually is less expensive than discounted carrier for domestic routes.  The reason behind it is airlines such as Malaysia Airlines is much well established domestically, in turn has lot more resources and assets and is able to deliver their services at lower cost comparable to a discount carriers for domestic routes.

But the most important lesson here is to compare, compare and compare…. shop around for deals and it will pay off.

Red Eye Flights and Best Days to Fly

Choose "Flexible Dates" when book to see Price-Date Comparison
Choose “Flexible Dates” when book to see Price-Date Comparison
  • According to my experience, the three days that are less expensive are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays since fewer people wants to travel on these days with exception of holidays.
  • Red Eye Flights are late night or early morning flights operated by a commercial airline.  They are usually less expensive since airlines typically pays less for airport fees when operating in these non-peak hours.  The name derives from the fatigue symptom of having red eyes, which are often compounded by late-night travel.

Other Ways to Save from our Viewers:

Message from Cindy
Message from Cindy

Cindy

  • Consider consulting a travel agent for international flights
Caithyn
Caitlyn posted on YYZ Travel Advice & Recommendations

Caitlyn also recommended some great advice:

  • Fly into neighboring country and take the bus to your final destinations
  • Considering flying on airlines that offers free-stopovers
  • Use websites such as Skyscanner or Flight hub for price comparsion
  • Consider leaving on Tuesday and Wednesday and returning on Monday.

Anyways, thank you to both Cindy and Caitlyn for sharing your valuable advice.  We hope you find this page useful and please share it and like our videos, or even better support us by donating or joining the crowdfunding campaign at http://www.diytravelshow.com/give/

  • Producer/Host: Charles Huang
  • Co-Host: Maria E. Ramirez
  • Script/Editing: Kai Mathias
  • Music: Capo Music “Night Lights”, “Imagination”