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Insider Trick – Why Cheapskates Must KNOW Their Airfares

January 9, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Tips and Tricks

We cheapskates know that airfare prices can change at a moment’s notice, so we’re constantly looking for the very best deals.

But being a savvy shopper can be incredibly time-consuming and frustrating – unless, you know what I know.

Keep reading for what I consider to be some very special insights, AND, an “insider” international airfare “trick” you’ll just love.

First, a Little Background

Consider that the airlines’ “product”, a flight, is a perishable commodity that airlines are required (by their shareholders) to maximize profit on.

And, to maximize profit, airlines have to know quite a bit about their customers: they gather data about passenger habits and get special insight through loyalty programs, plus they amass information on a daily basis by monitoring airfare purchases.

If only passengers knew as much about the airlines! That’s why most air travel shoppers don’t so much “find” great airfare deals, as “stumble upon” them. Call it luck, or call it shopping in the right place at the right time.

Reality Check

Here’s the deal: 100% of all air travelers want the cheapest airfare – unfortunately only about 10% will get the best deal on a particular flight. The other 90% are going to get a relatively worse set of deals (usually about 7-price point groups ranging from low to high).

Savvy airfare shoppers (those who wind up in the coveted 10% “cheapskate group”) have learned to use a combination of technology and insight (call it, education). And that’s what FareCompare.com does: we level the playing field with airlines so that our travelers get unparalleled technology, and “insider” insight (or education) to help them always make the best air travel purchasing decision.

Take a Deep Breath

Most airfare shoppers are impatient; they don’t take the time to use technology and educate themselves in order to find the cheapest deal.

And, to be honest I don’t blame them – everyone is busy and it’s difficult to get people to change their ways – but we will continue to educate and innovate to make this process as simple as possible – because this has become my work life’s mission.

Now, an “Insider” International Airfare Trick!

For those that have read this far, time to get to the meat and potatoes of today’s lesson:

Today I received a Free Airfare Email Alert; I’d set it up so I would be notified about great deals from Dallas to Europe, and the Email Alert informed me of several excellent deals to Spain, including one from Dallas to Malaga. (There were so many good deals, it had to be a big airfare sale, and, it was most likely on American, which is based in Dallas and has a lot of international routes–this is where education comes in).

It turns out the airline ticket price to Malaga is a ridiculously low $300-roundtrip; you then add the $200 fuel surcharge and the customary $100 or so in international taxes, but you still end up with a ticket in the low $600′s. An incredible deal! Well, assuming you can book it.

So I clicked on the airfare alert (or you can go to FareCompare.com, in big “Search Airfares” box, put in the cities, make sure Research is checked, then hit “Find“) and clicked on the month of March in the calendar, because it was the last month with that cheapest price and saw that this particular airfare is good for departures through March 31st (if you want to depart later than that, the price of the ticket doubles!)

So, I picked my dates: depart March 31st (last day it is good) and return April 7th and then I hit “search”. What??!! The results told me the cheapest price (on all airlines) was actually $1000 or more!

I don’t despair — because I have a plan of attack and I know a “secret” that I am about to share with you.

I then select the new AA.com “Compare To” function on the FareCompare result page which pops up a window and automatically does the query on AA.com to confirm the $1100 price isn’t a snafu… Yep still $1191 (screen capture shown below) out the door for my coveted $600 “out the door” airfare (obviously they don’t have seats on my day at that price??? )

But I don’t give up! (Here’s where education and technology really come in).

I “know” something that you probably don’t: I “know” that American Airlines doesn’t fly to Malaga — and yet they have an airfare to Malaga; instead, a partner airline handles that segment of the flight (British Airways). I also know American’s website, its reservation system, and purchasing technology was not built to handle partner airlines very well.

So I go back to our technology; you see, FareCompare’s “Compare To” function allows you to check multiple sources of information at the push of a button. I can check different airlines, even different information sources such as Orbitz & Expedia.

Armed with that knowledge, I go back to FareCompare’s “Compare To” function, and issue the query (ask for a comparison) on Orbitz, which I also “know” has the technology to properly price the American Airlines airfare and include British Airways as an AA partner (see the screen capture below).

And Voila! There’s my airfare, $633 from Dallas to Malaga, just as my Free Airfare Email Alert told me it would be.

So, while everyone else will be paying $1000+, I’m in the 10% “Cheapskate Club“, thanks to the power of technology…and, education.

Review: The Easy Steps to Cheaper Airfare on FareCompare

  1. Free Airfare Email Alerts: This technology lets you know a particular cheap airline ticket price exists and the dates it is applicable (and FareCompare’s Free Email Alerts get you this information before anyone else can).
  2. Research Date Search: This technology allows you to see days — including the last depart date (hopefully with better weather) that you can select for your dream trip and then helps you find those seats at the that cheapest price
  3. Keep Looking: It is possible a particular airline quoting system isn’t working very well (especially on international), there are several and each have there strengths and weaknesses — that’s why we provide several other systems to use for comparison purposes — more solid technology.
  4. Educate yourself: FareCompare provides all kinds of informative and entertaining news and blogs where you can learn about airline partners, tricks, tips, and more. And you can find new tips and tricks everyday; combine your “University of FareCompare” education with our advanced technology, and you come out a winner in the Cheap Airfare Sweepstakes.

19 Responses to “Insider Trick – Why Cheapskates Must KNOW Their Airfares”

  1. Alberto Lobato says:

    Awesome info.
    Thanks Rick.

  2. Aaron says:

    One thing to beware of: Even though they are partners, your baggage and ticketing check-in may not be as smooth when booking a multi-airline ticket on Orbitz compared to the same flights under the single airline name. I’ve run into this many times on Skyteam where you may end up having to recheck luggage at the layover. It’s not necessarily a deal killer, but something to know when buying a ticket with a tight connection.

  3. Dan says:

    I travel over 200 days a year and this is a great site for compairing ticket prices from all airlines in one place.
    They give real time ticket prices for every airline all at once side by side you just get the flight #’s and goto thier home website and punch it in, little extra work but cuts out any fees “Orbitz.com, ect.” these other sites have when you book tickets through them and it’s FREE to use! This is especially good if your flight gets canceled due to mechanical problems being that you are entitled to get booked on another flight from your airline of choice to your destination according to most or all airline policies, unfortunately if your flight is canceled due to weather your S.O.L. This lets travelers more easily shop, book, and fly.


  4. tom babbitt says:

    price for 4 tickets from buffalo ny to seattle round trip
    7-9-08 leave in afternoon to seattle wa. return 7-18-08 leave in afternoon.

  5. Rick Seaney says:

    Tom, you can enter those cities and dates from our homepage at farecompare.com

  6. ron says:

    I’m trying to book multi-city flights for May and June this year, but can’t seem to do it on Farecompares. What am I missing?

  7. Jonathan says:

    Where is the “compare to” function on the airline search.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Never mind, now I see.
    Goes to show that it pays to read.

  9. steve thornton says:

    Hi i will be visiting Las Vages on Thursday for 5 days and would like to take a trip to seattle, is it cheaper to get a ticket direct from the airport

    thanks steve in the UK

  10. Mary says:

    Can’t seem to find a cheap first class fare that farecompare promotes. Any suggestions?

  11. Rosemarie Incrovato says:

    Rick Seaney,

    I Have a bad back and can only sit or stand for limited amounts of time. I find myself flying to Germany for my daughters wedding. All the business and first class tickets I have found are prohibitive. Is there some way to check available seats or what days flights go out with lighter loads? I’m sure I will need to lay down for some time during this long flight.

    My other question has to do with knowing when the flight is at it’s lowest before you purchase the ticket. I’m flying out the 18/04/08 and returning on 27/04/08.

    Thank you in advance for any help you are able to give me.

    Thanks again,
    Rosemarie Incrovato

  12. Rick Seaney says:

    Hi Rosmarie,

    Unfortunately there isn’t a definitive tool to show you the number of seats “currently” sold on a plane (the airlines don’t want their competitors to know …).

    But certainly Friday and Sunday (your dates) are more likely to be full than midweek flights like Tuesday and Wednesday.

    I would need your departure city to make a better recommendation on purchase.

    Let me know,


  13. Kim says:

    How do you use farecompare.com for multi city trips? Thanks!

  14. leslie prieto says:

    hey rick, i’m trying to book 3 airline tickets for my mom, sister and her 16 yr. old daughter from san antonio texas on march 21st to newark new jersey on march 24th but i can’t find them a reasonable deal yet….do you think that if i wait to buy the tickets the week of the flights that they may be cheaper since i’m sure they’d rather sell the tickets than to not sell them at all?

  15. N Merrett says:

    How far in advance of a July departure SEA to LHR is it prudent to search for cheapest fares?

  16. Rick Seaney says:


    the best price you are going to get is low $400s out the door, but you have to book ASAP!

    If you wait until after Friday to book, you will most likely see a sharp increase. Book now with Continental. They have airfare in the low $400s

  17. ray says:

    my own experience and word of mouth from other travellers tells me: on every flight that involves british airways one stands a more than fair chance that luggage stays at lhr for a day.
    if one doesn’t mind that, one could profit from it: passengers are entitled to go shopping on the carrier’s expense for essentials. dunno the exact amount, but i guess one could buy shirts, pants, towels, toothpaste and -brush and such stuff for up to usd 100.

  18. John Dugert says:

    Hi last night ,April 1,received any email alert,Los Angeles to Lima for the incredible price of $116 RT!Including all taxes!The airline is Avianca.It appears many options for dates at this giveaway price but when I go to purchase travel it comes out close to $800,tried dozens of date combos even tried Avianca.com directly but nothing close!At first thought alert some kind of error but still on a day later,please help very flexible on dates,times,retired.Any one with definite help can email me directly at XXXX.Thanks in advance.JD

  19. Toni says:

    Love all this info. I have put in a quick trip to Paris to retreive my daughter from a nightmare trip over. Do you also do hotels? I am booking a month in advance, how much time in advance is best?

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