Cheap Airfare 101 Hack: Ditch the Roundtrip ticket
The Wall Street Journal ran a travel hacking 101 piece today on getting cheaper airfare. In long form, the article explains how pairing 2 one way tickets may be cheaper than simply buying one round trip ticket.While a somewhat elementary idea, this is a very valuable 101 Travel Hacking tip which can save serious money for anyone, especially those with flexible schedules.
I employed this strategy on my last return trip from Thailand. With all the time in the world, I needed to get from ‘somewhere in Asia‘ to Minnesota, North Dakota, or South Dakota. After piece-mealing a bunch of flight options, I found the following as the best option:
- Bangkok – Las Vegas on a major carrier
- Las Vegas to South Dakota on a budget regional
Doing so, I saved $300 on the flight. This $300 more than self-financed a weekend in Las Vegas, which allowed me to visit an old friend and some family as well. The cheapest flight ($100 cheaper) would’ve actually been Bangkok to Los Angeles, but I knew I could get by on a weekend in Vegas much cheaper than I could in LA.
Mosaic Flight Strategy – using one way flights
1. Know the regional, discount airlines. Know where the likes of Spirit, Allegient, and Frontier airlines fly on the regular. These slightly more obscure carriers are often cheaper and more often run special, blowout promotional airfares. Sign up for their mailing lists to hear about these promotions if they serve your region.
2. Know the major hubs. You can fly anywhere on a major carrier, but it helps to be aware of their most frequent flight routes.
3. Fly off peak. Red eye flights are great. Also, fly on those days that don’t line up with typical business travel or ‘weekend getaway’ travelers.
4. Self Stopovers. As the WSJ article highlights, there are often blowout airfares offered by national airlines from specific cities. Turkish Airline’s $409 round trip from Washington DC, for example. Incredible fare, but we don’t all live in DC. Pairing this blowout fare with a separate round trip flight to DC as a ‘self stopover‘ might make this trip worth it. Always something to check out.
5. Travel Light. A major inhibitor to all of this is packing heavy and checking bags. The extra cost for you heavy, high maintenance packers out there might nullify your ability to take advantage of good fares. So pack light and don’t check bags.