Find a Cheap Fare to SOMEWHERE (2021)
When you are planning a trip, you probably know exactly where you want to go. However, sometimes you may be open to several possible destinations, depending on what type of deal you can get.
Several tools are designed to uncover well-priced airline tickets for your next trip, letting you easily browse airfares to many different destinations. These tools are the best way to find a great deal on airplane tickets and can provide inspiration for a trip to a fantastic destination.
- Google’s Explore Map. Google Flights lets you view possible destinations on a map. You can view prices for specific dates; or for a weekend, one-week, or two-week trip in a given month or across the next six months. The prices displayed on the map are only approximates. You’ll need to click on individual cities to see the real fares. At least with Google Flights, this will be blazingly fast.
- Kayak’s Explore Map. Kayak / Momondo has a similar tool. It doesn't provide as much control over the parameters of your flights, but provides a convenient way to narrow down your options to certain types of destinations (e.g. city, beach, family).
Scanning through fare deals
Another approach to finding a good destination is to scan through recent “deals” that are posted on websites that focus on spreading the word about unusually low prices. These websites aren’t so much airfare searching tools as they are listings of airfare alerts. They are designed to provide notifications about new deals and just show a list of each deal in the reverse order of when they found them.
“All the Flight Deals” is the best site for browsing unusually low fare from your city. All the Flight Deals aggregates the low-priced deals from most of the other “flight deal” sites and presents them in easy-to-view listings. You can also set up email notifications with your preference of different destination regions or countries.
Act fast to take advantage of mistake fares
The most extreme version of letting the airline pricing determine where you go (rather than deciding where to go first) are mistake fares.
Occasionally someone screws up and a fare is mispriced in the central reservation system or a specific travel website. If you find out about it before the mistake is fixed, you can usually get a ridiculously good deal. International flights to far flung corners of the world can sometimes be available for under $100.
For particularly good deals, it can even make sense to pay for separate “positioning” flights to the mistake fare's starting location.
As an added bonus, you’ll earn valuable frequent flyer points for these flights—often a large percentage of the points needed for free travel on a later flight (especially when taking advantage of mistake fares on business and first-class tickets). The number of miles can be large enough that some people take advantage of mistake fares just to earn the cheap miles, not because they want to visit the destination.
- If you learn about an interesting fare, don’t wait to book it—if you change your mind, you can usually cancel your reservation with the first 24 hours. You may not have much time before the deal goes away. If you wait, you’ll miss out. The good news is that most airlines have a 24-hour cancellation policy and there is a US government regulation that requires a cancellation (or hold) period for any flights to and from the United States. Once you book your flight, you'll have at least one day to figure out whether you truly want to take the trip or not.
- If you are going to play this game, you need to be “ready” and you need to be flexible. When a mistake fare becomes available, you won’t have much time to make plans, so make sure you always have an idea of when you might have time to take an unplanned trip and where you might be interested in travelling.
- Book directly with the airline (unless the mistake is only with a specific travel website). If you book through a third-party travel website like Expedia, there is a chance that the website won’t immediately “process” the tickets and the fare might not be available by the time they get around to doing so. In other words, even though they might say that your ticket is reserved, it may not really be ticketed. And if it isn't fully ticketed, it won’t be honored by the airline.
- Please don’t call the airline to confirm the fare or your reservation. If you do, you’ll likely mess up the deal for everyone else.
- If you read about a fare and you can’t seem to find it, check ITA Matrix. Sometimes airline booking sites use cached data instead of the very latest fare information. They only connect to the real reservation system when it is time to book your tickets. If you aren’t finding the fare on a third-party website, you can look at ITA Matrix or on the airline’s own website.
- For quicker notifications about mistake fares, you’ll need to directly leverage some other sources. The main downside of All the Flight Deals is that you won’t necessarily learn about mistake fares immediately. You can set it up to send you an email with every new deal. But, with the large number of regular “low-priced” deals that are published across all the different sites, you’ll be inundated with emails.
- The Flight Deal. One of the two best sources for mistake and other unusually inexpensive fares. Its deals should also show up on All the Flight Deals, but you could use our IFTTT notification trick to get instant notifications. Oddly, their service is split among two nearly identical sites, the Flight Deal covers New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, and Washington DC. Fare Deal Alert covers Atlanta, Charlotte, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Orlando, and San Diego.
- Secret Flying. The other best source for deals. Like the Flight Deal, it is covered by All the Flight Deals, but you might want to set up instant notifications directly.
- Fly 4 Free. Another worthwhile site. Conveniently, it has already set up separate twitter feeds for a bunch of larger cities. This allows you to follow it directly in twitter.
There can also be a delay from the time a deal shows up on the original website and when it is picked up by All the Flight Deals. Under normal circumstances, this delay isn’t a big problem. However, in a mistake-fare situation, it can make the difference between catching or missing a deal.
If you want to focus on mistake fares, we suggest that you set up alerts with at least one of the following tools. Get Only the Notifications You Want, the Way You Want Them
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