Example of Finding Good Airfare Deals

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One of the strategies my family uses to travel to places near and far is to pounce on great airfare deals.  I have shared the saying “chase the fare, not the destination” before and it holds true today for us.  There are lots of places in the world I want to go, so I try not to get fixated on going to a certain destination on a certain date too often, but instead stay open to different destinations at different times based on what deals pop up.

If I just want “a trip to somewhere awesome” in the fall I am much more likely to find a great deal than if I say I want to go to X city on Y date.  I may find a good deal for that very specific trip, but I am really limiting my chances because of having a very narrow focus.  Of course sometimes our travel plans are fixed and we do simply take the best deal we can find for that specific trip on that specific date, but that isn’t how we score our best deals.

Here is a real example that is live as I type this.  My family has always wanted to go to Boston, but didn’t have any specific travel plans to get there.  I follow @theflightdeal @faredealalert and @aircfarewatchdog on Twitter and see many of the great airfares that they share on a regular basis.  Of course most aren’t of interest to me, but every now and then they share one from my hometown of Houston that catches my eye.

A few months ago they shared that there were $125 round trip flights from Houston to Boston this fall.  My parents quickly pulled the trigger and are going to be visiting one of their “bucket list” destinations sooner than expected by being flexible and moving quickly when a deal presented itself.

I didn’t book that trip with them, but have found myself really wanting to experience Boston together since we don’t get the change to travel together as frequently as we used to.  Heck, even my sister and aunt are in on this trip, so it was already on the verge of being a full-on-family-festivus.

Today I saw @faredealalert again share the $125 fares on United from Houston – Boston.  The dates are limited, but the fares are there.  If you are willing to pay a little more your date choices expand.  Read their post for tips on finding the fares if you are new to this.  Here is a glimpse of availability from October by using ITA Matrix calendar search.

inexpensive airfare

This is a case where using 25,000 United miles for that trip would be a total waste as you would be getting just 1/2 a cent in value per mile.  Save those miles for something else, and earn thousands of miles when prices are this low.  If you want to use points to pay, use fixed value points from a card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard® to cover the cost of the airfare and still earn miles from flying on a “paid” fare in the process.  That would ultimately cost just 11,250 points after the 10% rebate for spending those points on a travel purchase.

We’re now joining in on this trip to Boston in the fall thanks to being flexible, following those on social media who share amazing airfares, and by being willing to move quickly when deals present themselves.



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  1. Same thing goes for award tickets.

    Last summer AA offered us two opportunities. We wanted to go to Europe for a month in the Fall, but AA opened up a FC flight for two in June. There was only one day we could go, and we had to come back on a specific date 2 weeks later. We had never been to Spain, and it turned out we could add on a BA r/t from LHR to Madrid for no extra miles. We had a great two weeks in Spain.

    Some time later, AA opened up a Sept F/C flight for two, again with only one day available to go, and one available day to return. We got our one month Europe trip, including a visit to Octoberfest in Munich.

    Luckily for us, our jobs are flexible enough to let us go when AA opens the space. Summer 2015 there were just two days we could go, June 30th and July 7th. And even then only into Frankfurt. So guess what, we’re going to Frankfurt on July 7th.

    AA isn’t giving us any way to return at the Saver rate. Happily, Lufthansa opened up FC space to return a month later. So those LH miles from the Miles and More cc that were going to expire in 18 months will be put to good use.
    Summer, I’m sure you know what I mean when I say: First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, and we don’t leave until late afternoon, so we will make great use of it. 🙂

    • Robert, indeed. Been to the FCT myself – great place to spend a few hours in transit! You are right this sort of stuff applies to award availability as well. Have a great trip!

  2. If your family likes this sort of thing, we were just in Boston for a weekend and the children’s museum is *amazing*. Easily a half-day adventure.

  3. Boston is beautiful in October with the colored leaves. I recommend walking the Freedom Trail (and visiting some of the sights along the trail) and visiting Boston Public garden to take in the fall colors.

  4. I always wanted to go to Salem, Ma. My folks came along for the ride with my 3 kids and me when we found a flight deal. We did Salem in October and went to their town Halloween parade. We probably came the furthest from PDX for that night. So fun! We did Boston too and my mom who wasn’t too excited about Salem, but came for the Boston part ended up loving Salem the most. Boston is so awesome! Flexibility is key to deals.

  5. i’ve been a reader for years and my sister just moved to houston and i’m so excited for her to now take advantage of the houston-based deals you post! she jumped on this one!

  6. Summer, does your family like art museums? If so, suggest a little known gem – Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, just north of Beantown.

  7. I have a modified version of your strategy, a list of places I want to go, sorted very loosely by year to give a mix of types of travel, domestic and international destinations, length of trip and the like. I work on trips well ahead, since I look for frequent flyer space. If a trip idea isn’t working out, I look at the next on the list, or the next one that would be similar in style and try that. So I’m not highly spontaneous, but still quite flexible, in choice of destinations. I usually don’t get to pounce much on great airfare deals, unless it’s a time when I wasn’t actually planning to travel, but can get away.

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