Airlines

Flexibility Is the Key to Good Deals

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While we were out visiting my mom asked me to help them find a cheap deal for a one-way flight they needed in the fall. She told me they had trouble finding good deals on flights like we were able to.

I know this has been addressed before, but if you want to find good deals on flights, you usually have to be flexible in your plans. In this case my parents weren’t doing a mileage run and they hadn’t found a good flight deal for a place they wanted to go. They’re going on a cruise that starts in Canada and ends in Florida. So their main goal is to get to Canada with enough time to get to their cruise.

Knowing my parents I assumed they wanted to arrive at least one day before the cruise left and I asked them if they wanted to spend any more time there before they got on the ship. My mom’s initial plan was to spend two nights in Canada before they got on the ship.

I used https://matrix.itasoftware.com/  and inputted their destination using the day my mom said she wanted to get there plus/minus one day on each side.

Here’s the interesting part, the day my parents initially wanted was over twice as expensive as flying out one day before or one day after. I think this is where many people get tunnel vision. I understand in some cases you can’t be flexible with your plans because of work or other obligations. But if you CAN be flexible, looking at other dates around the same time you were thinking of going can save you money. In this case, had they only looked for flights on the day they were originally thinking of they would not have found a good deal. But looking at flights over a three-day range opened up a lot more possibilities for them.

I showed my parents the flights and explained what the cheapest options were. I had to figure out how important arrival time was to them. There was also no way to get a non-stop flight, but I told them the various layover choices they had and where they were and for how long.

I was able to get my parents a cheaper flight with flight times and a lay-over they were willing to deal with. They did have to change their original plan, but saving money was a bigger priority this time around.

Moral of the story, something as simple as changing your plans around by only one day can save you hundreds of dollars. You need to know ahead of time what you’re willing to do to save money, and what you’re willing to pay a little extra for.

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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.

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