Thursday, January 31, 2013

Want a Cheaper Flight? Try This Trick

As I was scouring through the news this morning, I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal providing a wonderful little trick to cut down on the cost of airfare.

We all know how expensive flights to Europe or Asia or Australia can be (and let's face it, even flights to Hawaii and Alaska are pricey), but there are ways to reduce the cost by as much as 30%. Just buy two discounted tickets to create your own itinerary. Admittedly, it can be a bit of a hassle, and there are some drawbacks to the technique. Still, when you think about how much you could save, it might be worth considering.

Here's a quick summary of how it works. Carriers customarily have special deals in certain cities--either to promote a new route or to boost awareness of their airline--but usually their systems do not let them combine those cheap flights with connecting flights in one transaction. If you live in the city where the deal is being offered, you're in luck; but if not, you can still take advantage of those super low fares. For example, Turkish Airlines is trying to expand in the U.S., and is offering round-trip flights between Washington, D.C. and Istanbul for as little as $525 for early February. But if you want to fly direct from Chicago, it can cost up to $1,194 for a round trip flight for the same time period. Snagging a cheap internal flight from Chicago to D.C. and then booking the special, lower rate from there to Istanbul can save you a substantial amount of money. This probably isn't the best example, since Chicago is a major city, and has dozens of other flight options to Istanbul for much lower prices (United offers a one-stop round trip flight for about $538, which is obviously the best choice). But you get the idea.

It definitely is a neat trick for people who live in cities that do not have as many flight options or special rates from international airlines--or even domestic ones. Since I live in Chicago, I have a wide range of flights to choose from, and there are usually a lot of promotional fares. But for those with fewer resources, this could certainly work well. So next time you have a far-off destination in mind, but do not want to pay a hefty price for flights, consider this little trick!



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