This is a question which so many people want answered and they will search the internet all day and night to find the perfect key to unlock these secret and mysterious deals that are only available to the minorities. Well yes, they do exist, but if there was a simple formula and everyone knew how to get them, then they wouldn’t exist. Many of the ways to find cheap deals are as a result of fiddling with tickets, and no, the airlines don’t like it. While it’s not illegal, it’s certainly frowned upon by the airline industry and some methods will have your ticket cancelled by them if they find out what you’re doing! But don’t let that put you off, you can get some extraordinary deals on many routes, especially the long-haul routes, and premium classes too.
Method 1- Skyscanner
Now, this is one which many people already use, in-fact millions. And there is good reason why! Simply put in your preferred departure airport, and again for an arrival, for any date in the calendar and within a few seconds you have all airline options, and booking sites to provide you with the best deal. The most amazing thing about this all is that you can search for any date within a calendar month to find the cheapest, and you can also search any airport in a country for departure and arrival. If this doesn’t suit you, you can look at every country from a departure airport, to find the cheapest fares and give you inspiration for travel. It’s rare that you find such an easy tool as this, and for most of my flight searches, this is the go-to option. I would highly recommend coming here first. (https://www.skyscanner.net/).
Method 2 – Ex-Eu Departure
This works for long-hauls. If you book a ticket from an EU airport, rather than London itself, for example, then you can save hundreds off the same flight ticket. How? Just by taking that extra flight, and it works for premium classes too. So, for example let’s say I want to fly London – New York JFK, it’ll cost me around £700 return, but if I fly Amsterdam – London – New York JFK (Same flight), it’ll only cost £400. Why? The airlines want to target connecting customers from other airlines, in this case it would be KLM. It works for pretty much all airlines, and you can save a lot of money, the only risk is that you have to get yourself to the airport for departure by using a positioning flight, at your own risk, so leave sufficient time. You can also not get off the plane in London on the return and leave the airport with your baggage, it will go to Amsterdam, regardless of how you plead. The only exception to this is if you book JFK-LHR / LGW-AMS. You have to collect your baggage and travel to Gatwick using this itinerary, and therefore you can just not show up for your last flight, but be aware airlines don’t like it, and will ban you if they find you doing this too often, or just take away your frequent flyer account outright, so be wary how you go about this.
Method 3 – Fuel Dumping
Fuel dumping is the smart method of forcing your ticket price down to minimal prices, I’ve seen business class flights to the other side of the world for <£500 return, it’s really quite amazing.
Fuel dumping is when you remove surcharges from paid tickets to create large savings. Airlines add “fuel surcharges” to a final ticket price with the letters YQ or YR and it’s not uncommon for fuel surcharges to actually be greater than the base fare of a ticket. In removing these surcharges, you are able to cut ticket price and only pay a base fare from the airline. However, it’s quite difficult to do, why? Because if it was easy, everyone would do it, and there would be none of these cheap tickets!
Fuel dumping works by using a method called the 3x or “third strike”. A third strike is simple, but finding one is hard. If I am flying from New York to London and returning to NY, I would add a third short flight at the end, likely to and from unrelated cities. In doing this, the fuel surcharges will disappear from the first two and you will only be charged for the third leg. To do this, search for a “Multi City” ticket and I would input NY to London in the first field, London to NY in the second and then any combination of short obscure flights in which fuel dumps occur for the third. Finding the right combination can be difficult but once you find it, you have essentially found gold.
Again, this only works on tickets where the YR/YQ Fuel Surcharge is higher than the base price. To find this out, go the ITA Matrix (https://matrix.itasoftware.com/) and search for a flight, break down the ticket as shown below, and find a suitable one where you can start searching for your 3x multi-city ticket elsewhere.
To book these tickets, don’t use the airline’s website directly, use OTA’s, such as Momondo and Skyscanner. Also once you have booked the ticket, don’t tell anyone or go blabbing you’ve got this great deal because Airline staff often patrol the internet for these loopholes and they close them off. Plus if an Airline finds your unusual itinerary they’re probably likely to cancel it, so just book and shh and you won’t have a problem, well that is except for figuring out how to spend that extra cash you’ve saved!
Method 4 – Work with other people
There is a whole community to help you find fuel dumped tickets for routes across the world, and they are constantly working behind the scenes to find the best deals. But if they publicly post these deals, they’ll be closed off within an hour or so, which isn’t very useful, so they speak in code. It take’s a while to learn, but I’d suggest giving this a go if you’re really into finding the best deals, Flyertalk is a great community! I’ve actually heard of the existence of secret groups and communities which discuss these deals, but these are of course invite only and if you’ve got the connections, it’s a great thing to be in.
Method 5 – Secret Flying
This is a final, and very popular method because it saves the hassle of finding fuel dumped tickets and error fares for yourself. (An error fare is where the system charges the wrong fare, and people take advantage of it, before the airline notices). Sign up to their email updates, Facebook, Twitter posts and you will have deals coming at you from all directions! But you must be quick to book some of these, as airlines notice and close off deals very early and sometimes don’t honour the ticket price, instead giving a refund. I personally really do love this website, I have seen some amazing deals over the past few months alone. Check it out!