Happy New Year to all the folks who are reading this. Today I want to highlight something which is easily overlooked by all of us while looking to purchase our flight tickets. There are times where you would be looking to just purchase a one-way flight ticket. This could be because you are able to secure the other one-way ticket using miles in premium class or you were able to get on the myriad sale where the other one way ticket was awesomely cheap. In the miles and points world you do end up buying flight tickets with cash lot of times and below info would be useful when you do your next flight search.
Buying two one-way tickets on different carrier can be cheaper in peak season:
If you have ever tried to purchase a flight travelling out of USA during summer break or Christmas/ New Year you would know what I am talking about. Everyone is travelling during these times and the airlines know it and thus prices can be exorbitant. Most 3rd party aggregation sites would give preference over a round trip ticket booked as one ticket then two separate one-way tickets and this is where it would be useful to search for separate "one-way tickets" which at times would be cheaper than a single round trip ticket. Make sure you check the price on the regional website where you plan to return from and you might be in for a surprise.
Converting a return one-way ticket to a multi-city ticket for future use:
This is where it gets interesting. As we all know during non-peak times round trip tickets are almost always cheaper than one-way tickets. So, why not convert a one-way return trip into a round trip? Let's assume you want to travel from San Francisco, CA to Amman, Jordan in Christmas and return back in January. For the purpose of this demo I will use Google Flights as my go to tool. Below is what it looks like booking one-way return trip today for Jan, 15th, 2018:
As you can say that most folks are planning to return from their vacation during early January the one-way tickets are still a tad bit higher. So, what if you tag along a future one way trip and make it a round trip? How about booking a future one-way trip to completely different destination which you might have in your visit list? Check out below for example.
As you can see, changing the search to "multi-city" and putting a destination which you might already be planning to visit in future is just ~$300 more than the original one way ticket you were looking to purchase anyway.
So, the next time you plan to travel in peak travel periods do not forget to change your search criteria and you might be in for the unexpected discount on your travel.
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Google Flights is one of the go-to tools for most folks looking to book the revenue flights. The various ease-to-use features help easily find the fares to the destination (or near by destination for creative souls). Since the ITA Matrix is at heart of the Google Flights, the same flight results can result from ITA including more details such as "fare class" as well as "Fare Rules" which are usually not shown by Google Flights. Using the "Fare Rules" details can help find out the details of the fare including the change/cancellation fees which vary by carrier.
The interesting aspect is when the flight is operated as "Code Share" flight. For e.g. a United flight is code-shared with its star alliance partners Lufthansa. Similarly carriers can have code-share agreement with another carrier in the market or route where they do not operate and this can represent the same flight being sold with different "Fare Rules" based on where you purchase your ticket from. There are certain routes which are code-shared by American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Since Alaska Airlines has a very generous cancellation policy where you can change or cancel the flights up to 60 days before the date of departure the same could potentially apply to code-share flights on American Airlines. This can be easily found by looking at the "Fare Rules" from ITA Search.
For e.g. below is the one way flight search in Google flights from San Jose, Ca (SJC) to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) for Dec 15, 2017. As you can see the American Airlines flight AA 1231 is marketed by Alaska Airlines as AS 6719. To top it the price is significantly cheaper on Alaska Airlines (Of-course the tickets would be booked in different booking class based on which carrier is selling the tickets) but still if you just care about going from Point A to Point B that's a good price difference. Also American Airlines charges whooping $200 as cancellation/change fee on non-refundable paid fares where as Alaska Airlines cancellation/changes are free up to 60 days before the date of departure or just $125 (assuming you do not have status with Alaska Airlines) till the date of departure.
So if you book the flight using Alaska Airlines you can get:
Of course there are few downside to this:
The next time you book the flight on any airlines and want to make sure you do not have to pay hefty fees do check the "Fare Rules" to determine Cancellation/Change fees. Also if the above Alaska Airlines booking downside seems minor to you for a code share flight between American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, select Alaska Airlines for booking to get great cancellation/change policy.
Google acquired ITA a while ago. Most of the brain used by Google Flights comes from ITA and thus no doubt its pretty good at what it does. You can use the "google flight functionality" to easily narrow down to your desired flights by using few of the techniques below:
The search itself is very easy to use if you understand how to use it. Below are some sample example search to get you going.
San Jose City to New York City Round trip for 4 days length of stay:
As you can see from below snapshots, entering the source/destination and initial set of dates and by clicking in the "date field" will show prices for various dates in the given month. You can then use the "right arrows" to look up the prices for various months as well as you can change the date range on the bottom with "+/- 0 days" to add flexibility to 4 days of stay.
San Jose City to XXX destination for 4 days of stay:
You can enter the "Source" and the length of stay and Click on the Map to see what are the possible "destinations" which could fit your price range. In fact you do not have to restrict yourself to the U.S.A but you could select any region where you might want to visit.
Los Angeles to Tel Aviv (TLV) or Rome (FCO) with default 4 days and +/- 2 days of stay:
You could also search for multiple destinations by specifying the airport names separated by comma and thus browse through "days range" where the fare would be cheaper. As you can see from below the fare could vary from range of $1600 to almost half at $821.
Search for Specific "Alliance" such as One-World or any airlines:
You could even narrow down the search based on the alliance or airlines you would like to fly from the available ones. Sure this might be more costlier then the cheapest option available, but a preferred one for you.
As you can see from above the Google Flights could be quite useful in your search for that flight. It could also help you narrow down to the specific destination, dates or airlines and thus make your travel fit your budget or time constraints.
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