How Can I Find These?
Our favorite way to keep up on what deals are going on is Let There Be Travel. They have a Facebook group that posts daily flight deals, error fare, and event the occasional hotel/car rental deal. What makes it even better? You can request a deal. What?! YES. Submit a post asking for the best price on somewhere you want to go like this:
I’m looking for a deal from Los Angeles (LAX) to Europe (Italy/Rome preferably) and my dates are flexible between March and April. I want to be there at least 10 days. Can you help?
They will respond in minutes with a deal, prices, details and if there is no deal, they will tell you the best times to fly, what other deals might work for you, or they will alert you when a deal comes up that matches what you are looking for. SWEET!
Look for Airline Tweets
A low fare could pop up at any minute of the day or week, so shop around, follow tweets — because the best deals, even if they’re good for travel over a long period, last only a few hours — or sometimes minutes. We also search the hashtag #FlightDeal often, and follow @LetThereBTravel ….and you can see why:
Sign Up for Alerts
First, sign up for AirFareWatchDog’s fare alerts and as many airline email newsletters as you can. They will send you cheap flight deals based on your home airport.
Let Web Sites Do The Hard Work
Another site we love is SkyScanner, which is perfect for flexible travelers. By typing “everywhere” into the destination search and selecting when you want to travel, the site will show the cheapest options out there – from New York, fares to the Caribbean right now are under $300 and there’s even an option to Ireland in the $400 range.
Know When to Buy
While searching for deals, remember that traveling on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are the cheapest days to fly, while Friday and Sunday are the most expensive. The most cost-efficient time to fly is also first thing in the morning and red-eye, followed by lunch time and dinner-hour flights.
The best time to purchase an airline ticket, however, is Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET, as discounted flights hit the sites. Most of these specials are pulled by Thursday. Avoid purchasing airfare a week before, during, or a week after holidays. Prices tend to be higher than normal even if you aren’t traveling during those times.
International airfare is also more pricey thanks to mergers and less seat availability.
How Do Flight Deals Happen?
Self-Dump aka: Fuel Dump
Because the fuel surcharge component was added after commercial airline reservation systems were created, it left the possibility of glitches/errors occurring. Airlines are aware that errors can occur on their complex, outdated systems, however, the cost of constantly finding and fixing them far outweigh their potential losses.
These errors typically occur when more than one airline is present on the same ticket. Airlines that don’t have interline fuel surcharge agreements split revenue on the basis of IATA’s BSP settlement tables. Those tables are country-specific. Some routes, on some airlines, aren’t fully updated correctly in some country BSP tables.
Many flight deal enthusiasts such as Let There Be Travel try what is known as “Fuel Dumping”. This is when they intentionally pair specific airlines together on the same ticket in the hope that the fuel surcharge is dumped. The Fuel Surcharge of the long-haul flights are “dumped” by the presence of a smaller, cheaper flight. The short flight with LAN Airlines has partially eliminated the fuel surcharge on the long-haul Lufthansa flights.
Here is an example of an error fare/fuel dump/self-dump from December. Chicago to Abu Dhabi for $386.80.
Sometimes Online Travel Agencies (OTA) can be the cause of an error fare. The unintentional discounted tickets are usually the consequence of a missing fuel surcharge, however, it is not necessarily “dumped” with the inclusion of another airline on the ticket. A glitch on the OTA systems can simply cause this to occur with very little understanding why. The main indication as to whether the error fare is in fact an OTA Glitch, is if the fare cannot be replicated elsewhere. This error fare from Washington to Istanbul for $405.80 is a good example of an OTA glitch.