Here’s a legitimate hack for getting the best flight prices online that really works.
Using this method, we got a round trip from London, to Beijing, to Tokyo, back to Beijing and back to London, over the course of a month, for less than £490 per person. The same flights booked directly on the airline’s website, were quoted at £1900! In fact, that was cheaper than the return trip from London to Beijing on its own.
And yes, we immediately got the eTickets sent through, and had no problems at check-in time. At no point did anyone from the airline think that the price seemed too low and cancel the tickets. They can’t anyway – once they’ve issued the tickets they’re obliged to honour the price.
The trick takes advantage of the fact that the algorithms used by price comparison and online travel agent websites to calculate prices get tripped up by complex routes, as well as airport taxes (which can make up as much as 80% of the ticket price) varying widely depending on whether you are staying in a country or travelling on a stopover.
In fact, airlines and hotels know this happens all the time, it’s just the cost of doing business through online middlemen, and they simply absorb the losses as they are only a small proportion of their total sales.
The trick is as simple as this:
- Go to a flights price comparison site like Skyscanner
- Don’t use return flights. Instead, select the ‘Multi-city’ option
- Enter each leg of your trip as a separate flight, with specific date and destination, obviously making sure to join up the legs of your trip. Even if you just need a return, enter the outbound and inbound leg as separate trips under multi-city
- Run the search and await the results. At least two or three of the results you get back will be distinctly cheaper than the others, due to mistakes in those online travel agents’ search algorithms. We won’t say which ones here, so they don’t find out and fix it!
- Go ahead and book your trip! Within an hour of paying you should get your eTickets through and you’re ready for your trip!
Do make sure to select only Direct or 1 stop flights, you don’t want to get cheap deals that are only cheap because they involve many changes and many long stopovers in undesirable locations.
Multi city trips make up such a small proportion of searches the reason this works is probably that they simply don’t test it as much, and testing all possible combinations would be impossible anyway. And with millions of transactions, when they come to reconcile them at the end of the year, they will leave the computer to do it, no one is ever going to see that a few flights were sold at a too-low price.
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