How I Saved Over 66% on Airfare in 20 Minutes

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little investigative legwork these days. You can save on fancy hotel accommodations by finding auctions. Heck – you can save even more by finding ways to stay rent free. You can save on car rental charges by getting free upgrades if you know how.

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But how about saving up to 75% on airfare? It’s not exactly easy, but once you know how, you’ll be surfing your way to these deals with the best of them.

Many of the search engines we like to use do a great job of finding us the “cheapest airfares”, but only to a certain point. There are plenty of airlines that fly (ahem) “under the radar” of these search engines.

Here are two examples of how I found ways to save money. I arbitrarily chose exotic destinations, partly because I like exotic destinations, and partly because I believe it’s the easiest way to save a pile of dough.

Flight #1: Paris to Madrid

I know I want to fly from Paris to Madrid return, leaving April 21st and returning April 28th.

Search with a Recognized Engine for a Price to Start With

By taking a peek at Travelocity, I discovered that the “cheapest” way to book this flight is with Air France, at a cost of $198US.

Research the Airport

Next, I performed a few searches. Namely, I was looking for a list of airlines that fly out of Paris or into Madrid in search of the ones that didn’t make the cut with Travelocity. I struck gold here.

Find Another Airline

Immediately, I saw a few airlines that fly between Paris and Madrid which hadn’t been searched with Travelocity. The first one on the list was Ryanair, so I checked their website out. The tradeoff is that they don’t fly out of Paris’s main airport (CDG), but instead use a nearby airport, just off the beaten path.

Check Out the Other Airline’s Website

I had to fight for a small time with the website to change the language to English, but it’s a small price to pay for dealing with a local airline.

Wouldn’t you know it: Ryanair has flights on the same days and even close to the same time of day. The total price: 43 Euros.

What is 43 Euros in US Dollars, you ask? A grand total of $66US.

Total Savings for doing this legwork: 66%

Flight #2: Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang

Now that I managed to demystify flights between European countries, I figured I’d try something a little more exotic.

Start with a Recognized Search Engine

My randomly picked search engine of choice this time was Expedia. For the same travel dates as above, they said Vietnam Airlines was my best bet at $282US.

Research the Airport, Find Another Airline

This time, I struck gold here, and discovered that Pacific Airlines flies the same route.

Check Out the Other Airline’s Website

Again after fighting with the local language issues and eventually discovering the English version of Pacific Airlines, I found that I could make the same trip for 1,299,000 Vietnam Dong.

Yikes! That sounds pricey. But what is 1,299,000VND in US Dollars? (drum roll please) ”¦ $81.

Total Savings for doing this legwork: 71%

Having had so much luck with exotic searches, I thought I’d try some researching a little closer to home, in North America. Unfortunately I wasn’t as lucky as above, and after a few tries, I determined that the big-name travel search engines we are accustomed to using generally have the North American markets pegged.

I would imagine though, if you are creative and have enough time on your hands (and patience) to vary your searches and use discount airlines and seat sales for certain portions of your journey, that you can indeed outdo the search engines even in our own backyard.

What are your tips for saving money on airfare?

  1. Don’t know how you had trouble with the language with the Ryanair web site, they are an Irish airline, so the web site would be in English.

  2. Oh yeah, deals within the airline industry are abundant and so many don’t realize them. It’s best to book your ticket mid week from Tuesday to Thursday and always buy in advance, you can save hundreds if not thousands on some flights.
    Looking into a flight to Sweden, I was quoted around 3000$, if I booked the trip in another season in advance it was down to less then 1000$.

  3. My fave spot to search for clues is at so you can find out all the cheap airlines that service your destination or nearby and then you have a very good chance of finding the best price.

  4. oh and and I think RyanAir’s website will change its language depending on two things, which country you’re accessing it from, and sometimes, trying to be clever, the departure city you’re inputting. They have their site in at least 6 languages already.

  5. great stuff! thanks for sharing this.

    my wife and I are trying to plan a trip home to the states from Perth, Aus, and I’m having trouble finding a good deal!

  6. Thanks for the comments, all! And Amanda – what a great resource in; I already found a way to slash the prices dramatically on a few flights I’m planning for the next few months!

  7. My husband and I just won a week’s resort stay anywhere in the world- we want to go somewhere warm, with picturesque beaches (we like to take photographs and snorkel but not just lay on the beach). We want to go to the most exotic place we can go on the cheap-we only need to pay for airfare. Do you know of any search engines that can help us narrow down our search? Hopefully it includes the best windows of time to visit these places. We are flying from Seattle, and are looking at different caribbean options. We are open to anything.

  8. great info. What about reliability of cheap flights? what are your experiences there? Flight delays etc. Not necessarily a problem if you have time but if on a deadline could be problematic. CHeers

  9. @Terri – Reliability of cheap flights is, well, unreliable! Although I’ve not had any troubles myself, often the budget airlines don’t get priority on the runways so if there’s a log-jam of planes waiting to take off or any sort of backlog, the budget airlines are the first to get cut or sent to the “back of the line”. However like I said, (knock on wood) I’ve not had any troubles!

  10. Hey Nora, Nat and Jodie here from House Sitting World.

    Great post! Really helpful tips. As full-time international house sitters we are always on the move and looking for cheap flights. I have just sent this info to Jodie… the chief flight booker for us! ;)

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