Get Good Airfare Deals by Moving Quickly

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Here I try and cover some of the ins and outs of both earning and using miles and points, as well as sharing travel and airfare deals when they pop up.  A couple of those examples were the $20 flights on Frontier to/from Denver a few days ago and the $108 round trip tickets from Dallas, Houston, Austin to/from Boston that are still going through today.  One constant when taking advantage of travel related points or cash deals is that you often have to move quickly or forever hold your peace.

One of the more frustrating things I have experienced in the travel world is trying to help friends take advantage of short lived deals and they don’t move fast enough. A slower pace is understandable since for most people booking travel is a big deal and something that requires thought and planning.  However, airfare and reward availability is dynamic and can change pretty quickly, and if you don’t move quickly when you find something you like, you need to be prepared for it to disappear.  Luckily some of my traveling friends and family members that I regularly help in the real world have internationalized the importance of moving swiftly.  I’m going to share a few of those stories from the last few days to hopefully encourage you to move fast enough to snag the deal you want next time!

Moving fast to get two business class award seats for a 2015 trip:

My in-laws are planning a huge river cruise through Europe for May 2015 and we have been working together to get their flights there and back booked in business class with miles and points.  Their dates and destinations were fixed, so this made finding flights that would work a bit tougher.  While they have been expanding their miles and points portfolio, they still have a relatively limited number and type of miles to work with to boot.  This meant that when I found reward availability for two business class to get them from Amsterdam back to the United States in business class for just 44.5k points each on their exact dates, they needed to book.

As luck would have it, they were on the road when I found the seats.  While their initial response was “great,  we will look at that when we get home and settled in a couple days”, they quickly changed course and got on it faster.  They were able to get the two business class seats to fly home in comfort next year since they have internalized that reward availability has to be grabbed as soon as you find it – even if it means multi-tasking while on the road.  Even though a trip for 2015 feels very distant and non-emergent, getting pieces of the trip blocked in can be a very time sensitive issue.

Putting $240 tickets on hold for the Caribbean:

Another friend of mine is planning a trip to the Caribbean, and I remembered seeing some very good fares from some cities such as Houston and Newark to the Caribbean.  I mean very good fares in the $240 round trip range.  When prices are that good for something (normally at least 2x that price or more), again you have to move quickly or be left out, or left with crummy flight times.  Luckily these fares can be put on hold via American, so the pressure wasn’t on to buy the tickets right that second, but the pressure was on to at least put the tickets on hold once good flight times were found using ITA MatrixI love when putting things on hold is an option!  Of course you just have to remember to go back and actually book the tickets before the hold expires…

Snagging $107 tickets to Boston:

The final example of this “quick bird gets the worm” exercise this week was when the $107 tickets from Houston to Boston popped up yesterday on JetBlue, and then later were matched via United.  I wrote about this here and even shared on my personal Facebook page since so many of my friends are in the Houston, Austin, or Dallas.  Several of them booked tickets, but later in the day when I saw my parents I learned they wanted in too!  By this point the availability on United fights wasn’t great, but there were a few options.

I probably sounded like a crazy person on the phone with my mom, but I kept saying “Just book something!”.  The message I was trying to get across was that they had 24 hours to cancel the ticket without penalty, so as long as they booked something that would work, they could then exhale and keep looking know they had a bird in the hand.

In the end they did just that and now they are heading to Boston in the fall for just over $100 per person!  My in-laws are flying back from Europe next year in business class for just 44,500 points each (more on that soon) and my friends have tickets to the Caribbean for $240 each.  Those are just three brief stories this week from all the travelers I am lucky enough to know, and all three of those deals were limited time situations.

They all moved quickly enough to take advantage of deals that make travel possible and I’m so excited for them!

Have you been able to get the ones around you to move fast enough to snag great travel opportunities?


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  1. Exactly! Nice post.

    By the way, you may have hit travel saturation when internalized becomes internationalized. 🙂

  2. What is the best way to find out these exist? Are you looking at random trips all day and you find a good deal? Or you just see someone else post about it on twitter or something?

    • CD, all of the above. I keep an eye on the Flyertalk mileage run forum, I follow @theflightdeal and @airfarewatchdog on Twitter. I also pay attention to emails from airline as sometimes they will send notice of a big sale. I also just generally follow lots of travel junkies on twitter so often someone will tweet about things they found. 95% I can’t use, but that 5% is quite helpful.

        • xrice, just friends I have made at various FTUs and MegaDO events who I know like to travel, but some “official” folks I would also follow are @globetrotscott, @johnnyjet, and lots of bloggers like @viewfromthewing @thepointsguy @mightytravels @dealswelike etc. We all seem to retweet deals we personally like more, so the more you can find folks with your same travel patterns (alliance, location, airline) the better. 😉

  3. With booking all these deals on various airlines have you decided to let United 1K slip or are you doing enough travel to requalify? That’s the dilemma I face and I know what I should be doing but letting go of status is hard.

    • Nick, I didn’t book any of these myself. However, yes I knew going into this year I am not re-qualifying as a 1K. It’s just too much flying on my own dime, and too much time away from home. I am struggling to hit Platinum, but will likely get there for 2015. Wouldn’t be shocked if I didn’t even hit that level for 2016. Letting status go is hard, and I’m not letting it go just yet, but I’m also not shackled to it.

  4. Excellent post – I can related 100%. I post many of the good airfare deals on Facebook (and tell friends to book this ASAP) and everyone comments “Yes I want in” but by the time they go to book it is a day later and the fare is gone.

    They don’t get it and it is indeed really frustrating.

  5. This was me with the Wideroe mistake last fall. I asked my SO if he wanted to go to Lisbon for a long weekend and he was like, well, maybe. Let me think about it. I was saying, no, we have to decide now! Booked it just before the website went down. 48 hours in Lisbon for under $300pp was totally worth it.

  6. We took advantage of the now defunct lifemiles trick and having a great time traveling through Japan. Next 3 days in GUM then back home.

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