Secrets of Cheap Airfare
June 29, 2010 11:08 AM   Subscribe

What are the Secrets of Cheap Airfare? Particularly from the States to Southeast Asia.

Are there scheduling secrets for flights to Asia that are cheaper than others?

Days of the Week? Certain airlines? Are there any websites that can save you money? Not orbitz and priceline...I've already found flights cheaper than any they offer.
posted by AuntieRuth to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Midweek is often cheaper than weekends.

Consider flying to Hong Kong, and then taking a budget airline from there to your Southeast Asian destination.
posted by asphericalcow at 11:14 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's no particular magic but a recent trip I planned I found cheaper to book separate tickets on separate airlines, eg round trip to London and a separate London-SE Asia-London ticket. But with separate tickets/airlines any problem becomes your problem, not theirs, like your flight to London gets delayed and you miss the flight out of London. The second airline will rebook you, but at a cost, unlike if you'd flown one airline or itinerary.

Another tip is fly out of a different city. It's usually cheaper for me to fly from NY to anywhere than Boston to anywhere, even figuring in $40 for bus tickets to/from NY. But then you're into how much is your time worth? if it takes 4+ hours on each end to get to NY

On preview: that's a good tip. Fly to HK or Tokyo and then catch a AirAsia or similar to your destination country.
posted by 6550 at 11:21 AM on June 29, 2010

This three year old thread lists some other flight search engines. Though some are dead links now, is still active (haven't tried it personally), and Kayak is good if you know some dates. Some of those dead links are for courier services, which is no longer the source of deals it used to be (news story from 2007).

Here are general tips, plus some international hints (including the search engine Momondo).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2010

Matrix2 is by far the most powerful fare search engine I've ever used, especially for complicated routes. ITA Software creates the systems that power a lot of the other search engines and they roll out new features on their own site first. You can't buy tickets through them but once you have the booking codes you can either go directly to the airline website or another engine like Kayak.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:39 AM on June 29, 2010 [9 favorites]

I've heard that a lot of those old rules like flying in the middle of the week don't really apply as much anymore, and my experience has borne that out.

One great thing about kayak is that, while you're putting your search together, they'll show you a calendar with the lowest fares in that month. So you can see if it would be cheaper to fly one week or the next. They'll also let you look for two days after or before any given date.

BKK used to be a great cheap flight hub. Not sure if that's still the case, but if it is, you may want to buy a US-BKK ticket and then go through a BKK travel agency to buy any intra-SEA tickets you need.

Oh, and if you're not on the West Coast, then it might be cheaper to get a cheap flight from wherever you are to a west coast hub like LAX or SEA and fly from there.
posted by lunasol at 11:53 AM on June 29, 2010

One secret is to talk directly with travel agents who specialize in specific countries. They typically buy blocks of tickets and can sell them for cheaper than any travel site.
posted by special-k at 12:03 PM on June 29, 2010

Buzz at

It also helps if you are going in the off-season.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2010

Oh, and on, instead of entering your city to another city, enter your city to "Asia" and choose a wide range of dates. Then choose another starting city and destination "Asia." It's great.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:19 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

STA Travel (US) or Travel Cuts (Canada) offer student fares which are often cheaper (sometimes substantially) than others sites. Tick off 'student' when searching and before checkout, enter your student card # which should be in the format of S### ### ### ###. If you happen to arrive at the airport and realize you've forgotten your card at home, don't worry, the airlines couldn't care less. I've never remembered mine.
posted by gman at 3:21 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite], based on Kayak, will alert you to fare decreases on specific itineraries.

I agree that ITA/Matrix2 is great. It has a nice feature that shows the cheapest fares in a 30-day period. Orvitz does as well, I believe.
posted by justcorbly at 4:03 PM on June 29, 2010

For Japan I have been learning that the time of year makes the biggest difference. Summer and Christmas are expensive, but February and October can be pretty cheap. At least for Japan, relatively last-minute can get you some good deals as well.

I have been finding reasonable deals on lately, so that's another place to look.
posted by that girl at 5:01 PM on June 29, 2010

Second STA Travel if you're a student (or under the age of 26). I've gotten several ridiculously cheap international flights from them. StudentUniverse is good for this, too -- I've never used them because the prices are about the same and they require a verified .edu email address and other things I can't be bothered to do.
posted by Put the kettle on at 7:52 PM on June 29, 2010

Fly to HK or Tokyo and then catch a AirAsia or similar to your destination country.

Unfortunately Tokyo (Narita) isn't served by any discount airlines to SE Asia; I recommend flying through either HK or Singapore, which are both large hubs and served by numerous low-cost carriers.
posted by armage at 9:51 PM on June 29, 2010

I'm doubtful they're relevant for flights from the states to southeast asia, but has an extremely flexible search engine, more flexible even than Matrix2, and also handles many airlines not treated by traditional booking systems. In particular, they cover many local low cost airlines like ryanair who's fair reporting is blatantly fraudulent but offer the lowest prices on many routes.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:24 AM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

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