Finding Cheap Airfare –
I live in a Delta Hub captive city (Minneapolis) and frequently find airfare in the range of $500-$800 for a domestic flight and $1,000 to $2,000 for an international flight. It is frequently frustrating looking to airfare. Fortunately, there are some tools that I use to help finding lower priced airfare.
Every day I watch out for attack fares where American or United respond to a sale fare posted in one of their hub cities by creating a sale fare from one of Delta’s hubs. In the past Minneapolis did not see too much of this; however, over the past year, American and United have been more active in posting these types of fares.
In order to find the fares I check The Fare Deal Alert and follow them on Twitter in order to see the latest postings. This site focuses on sale fares to Medium Size Airports. There are also fares from major airports such as Chicago and Atlanta posted from this account. Another similar webpage posts sale fares from major cities which is called The Flight Deal. I check this webpage daily as well.
Both the webpages list sale airfares and are very timely. The sites show you how you can search for the airfares using ITA Matrix or Google Flights. They also provide the special advanced codes used in a search on ITA.
Depending on the destination, I generally start by going to the ITA Matrix and displaying sale fares by city pairs over a calendar period. That way I can fine tune to when the sale is available.
I fly on American so my searches typically use the following advanced routing code: C:AA+
That will return results on connecting flights via AA. Since Minneapolis is a small destination for American, all flights will be to the hubs.
I will also utilize more advanced codes to restrict the search to specific fare classes or display results that do not have long layovers. Fortunately the Fare Deal Alert and the Flight Deal tell you specifically what advanced codes to look for on a particular code.
ITA Matrix does not allow you to book so once I find dates and times that work on the sale fare, I go out to the airline webpage and list the specific dates and then use the schedule to select the exact flights displayed by ITA.
Note: these attack fares do not last long so if you see one that you like, search right away and book the reservation. American allows for a free 24 hour hold. So if I am not sure if I can go, I will put them on hold. Most of the time the hold works unless there is a mistake fare (Example: Business Class to Beijing for $450) so I will frequently use this 24 hour hold. United and Delta both offer free cancellation within 24 hours. So if I am booking on those airlines, I will pay right away and then cancel within 24 hours if it does not work out.
Another tool that I use but is not as robust at finding flight options is Google Flights. The benefit of using Google Flights is that it also allows for a calendar to search on city pairs and once flights are selected, there is a direct booking link that goes to the airline.
Google flights is a great tool for searching city pairs to try to find deals. For example I can select a departure date and departure cities and Google Flights will display a map listing prices of flights.
By following Fare Deal Alert and the Flight Deal daily I have been able to book some amazing sale fares from Minneapolis including $600 to Paris and $250 to Cancun.
What has your experience been using these tools? I would love to hear from you.