I’ve been asked by quite a few people on how I’m always able to get such a good deal on flights, and how I can afford to fly Business/First class or get so much leg room. It’s actually not too hard with a bit of planning and a bit of work. I’ll do my best to explain and if anyone has any questions they can just message me. This Smart Travel Tips 2.0 section has been updated for 2019 and includes multiple new additions since my original 2017 post so be sure to read.
Good Deals on Flights
1. I tend to travel off season, so flights usually cost about half as much as they usually would peak season. I have the flexibility at my work place to be able to travel during slow times, or ask for permission to take time off at a specific time. I usually schedule my trips around these slow times, and on the shoulder seasons where I’m travelling to. For example, this next trip I’m going to France in March… when very few travel there, but its still warm enough to be able to enjoy my trip.
2. I use a multitude of different websites in my flight selection process, but I usually start with Google Flights to get a general idea of the path I’m going to take, or the airline I’m going to take. Expedia, which most people use, is actually typically the most expensive, and sometimes by quite a long shot. I usually get the best deal from the airline itself, or on Google Flights. The advantage to booking with the airline itself is that if for some reason you have any issues, or you need to cancel they can usually take care of it for you for free, or for a very minimal cost. Places like Expedia are way less forgiving. One such example of a good deal was when I travelled to Australia in 2016; Expedia wanted $1750, and I paid $900 with Air Canada on their website.
3. Another way of getting good deals on flights is to book one way tickets with Skiplagged. Skiplagged works by finding loopholes in airfare pricing, such as hidden-cities, to find deals that you won’t get elsewhere. So how does it work? Let’s say if I want to travel from Calgary to Toronto on August 18th and the cheapest direct flight I can find is $375… Skiplagged found a flight to Atlanta via Toronto for $240. I have saved $135. I just get off in Toronto and throw away the Atlanta portion of the ticket. There are some caveats here; you have to travel carryon only, and you can’t use your frequent flyer points because when they figure out you’ve done this they can garnish your points.
4. A few websites that I use to obtain killer deals on economy and business class seats are www.momondo.com and www.expertflyer.com. Momondo functions similar to Google Flights but provides different alternatives than Google does. Expert Flyer essentially is an elite travel hack of how to obtain the cheapest economy, business, or first class seat on a given airline for a given route. A premium membership offers you the most customizability and only costs $10 USD/mth or $100 USD/year and is highly worth it. I recently flew Calgary to Santiago, and then Sao Paulo to Calgary on Business Class for a tick above $2000 CDN. My fellow aviator Sam Chui has a fantastic explanation of how Expertflyer and Momondo works on this YouTube video.
Legroom in Economy
I use a wonderful website called http://www.seatguru.com to help me with my selection. I select the airline and type of plane that I’m going to be flying on (be careful if the airline has 2 or more configurations for the same type of plane!). I usually pick a seat in emergency exit rows, or at bulkhead areas because they allow the most leg room by far. You’re not allowed to store anything under the seat in front of you during takeoff and landing, and the first row of emergency exit seats doesn’t recline, but the back row does, so always select the back row if there are two emergency exit rows.
Business/First Class Seats
I never ever pay full price for business/first class seats. There are a few ways of obtaining these highly sought after seats while only paying a fraction of the cost, and in some cases getting it for free.
1. You can actually get the seats for free sometimes if the flight isn’t too full and you just ask the front desk very politely. You’ll have more a chance of success if you’re dressed to impressed, and not in sweat pants and wearing a shirt saying Budweiser. They want to try to keep the caliber of clientele up there to a reasonably high level, but I guess if you’re paying $5000-10000 for a seat and want to wear a Budweiser shirt then that’s your own choice and they can’t stop you.
2. There’s something most airlines offer called Bidding Upgrades, where you can actually bid a value that you’d be willing to pay for a Business/First class seat if it is still available 48-72 hours before the flight is scheduled to leave. There is always a minimum low value, and a max value. I always select the lowest value which can be as low as $200ish. If I don’t get the upgrade at that lowest bid price, then so be it, but to date I’ve always been upgraded at the lowest value. I’ve used this bidding with Air Canada, Lufthansa, Icelandair, Thai Airways, United, and Westjet (Economy Plus only of Westjet).
I travel exceptional light, which saves hundreds of dollars every year because I’m not having to pay for baggage fees. It also allows me to just grab my bag, get off the plane, and start my adventure. There’s no waiting for your bag… if it ever even arrives. The last 3 times I’ve checked my bag it has not shown up… I always use Osprey bags because they have a lifetime warranty, are super comfortable, and are extremely practical. My last blog post I went into detail of how I pack, and what bag I use, so I’ll refer you back to that blog post.
Pack Your Own Food
If I am travelling on economy I always pack my own food. Who in their right mind would pay $12 for a club sandwich? I usually bring protein bars, banana’s, a collapsible refillable water bottle, and if it’s a long flight I’ll make a sandwich, or if I’m feeling lazy pickup Subway for $5.
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