Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week’s Top Flight and Travel Steals
Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Last Minute Getaways for Under $300 Roundtrip
Who doesn’t love a last minute getaway? There’s something so freeing about booking a trip on a whim. Of course, last minute airfare is notoriously expensive. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you can still score amazing deals on domestic trips, even booking just a few weeks out. I’m talking roundtrip flights for under $300.
How is this possible? It comes down to airline sales cycles. Carriers are constantly adjusting prices based on demand. When they overestimate interest in a particular route, they’ll slash fares at the last minute to fill seats. This is especially common for leisure destinations like Florida, Vegas, and Hawaii.
I regularly see roundtrips to Orlando dip below $200 just two weeks before departure. Frontier and Spirit offer bare bones Basic fares, but even American and United drop prices. The key is flexibility. Rather than getting attached to specific dates, check fares every couple of days and pounce when you see a deal. Sign up for price alerts on Google Flights to catch flash sales.
Hawaii is another sweet spot for last minute deals. Due to the distance, airlines are reluctant to fly empty planes. I’ve flown roundtrip from the West Coast for as low as $260 on Delta, and $280 on Alaska Airlines. For the East Coast, look for United and American deals around $350 roundtrip. Just be ready to depart at less convenient times like 6am.
Don’t rule out last minute international flights either. Carriers like Air Canada frequently discount routes to Vancouver and Toronto. And budget airline Level has offered one-way fares to Barcelona for under $150 when booking 3-4 weeks out. Follow fare sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights for alerts.
The key to scoring these deals is moving quickly. Have a bag packed and your passport on hand. As soon as you get an alert, log in and book the flights. Gamble on refundable hotels, or use points to book accommodations.
What else is in this post?
- Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Last Minute Getaways for Under $300 Roundtrip
- Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Hacks for Finding Cheap International Flights
- Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Tips to Score Hotel Deals in Popular Destinations
- Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Take Advantage of Airline Mistake Fares This Week
- Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Use Alternate Airports to Snag Lower Fares
- Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Flexible Travel Dates Unlock Hidden Flight Deals
- Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Cash in Credit Card Points for Free Flights
- Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Act Fast - This Week's Top Travel Promo Codes
Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Hacks for Finding Cheap International Flights
Scoring a good deal on international flights may seem like an impossible task these days. Between fuel surcharges, baggage fees, and peak season upcharges, fares can easily top $1,000 or more for long-haul routes. But experienced travelers know there are plenty of tricks to uncover cheaper options if you know where to look.
The first hack is checking both budget and full-service carriers. While names like Norwegian, WOW, and LEVEL offer bare bones basic economy, legacy airlines like United, Delta, and American run regular fare sales too. Sign up for alerts from both types of airlines, and don’t assume one will always be cheaper than the other.
Consider open-jaw and multi-city bookings as well. The cheapest fares are usually roundtrips, but you may score significant savings booking one-way segments. For example, I once paid $750 roundtrip Vancouver-Bangkok. But booking Vancouver-Bangkok one-way then Chiang Mai-Vancouver separately cost just $650 total. The more flexible you are, the more potential deals you can find.
Alternative airports are another avenue to explore. Nearby hubs often have completely different fare availability. I’ve flown Seattle-Shanghai for $100 less than the same dates out of Portland. Trains, buses, and discount airlines can bridge the gap between cities for minimal cost.
Monitor fare mistake and error sales too. Back in 2015, United had Hong Kong fares starting at $0 roundtrip. Though they canceled the sale, many savvy travelers snapped up tickets during the 24 hours the glitch was live. Sign up for alerts from sites like Secret Flying that specialize in publicizing these unicorn deals.
Redeeming miles is one of the best ways to fly long-haul affordably. Programs like American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, and United MileagePlus offer roundtrips to Europe and Asia for just 30,000-70,000 miles. Sign up for credit cards that offer 50,000+ mile bonuses and you can book reward flights without even earning the miles through travel.
Avoid peak season and holiday travel whenever possible. Flying around Christmas, New Years, and summer break will boost fares significantly. Shoulder season months like November and March are ideal for finding deals to Europe and Asia. Being flexible by even a couple weeks can save hundreds of dollars.
Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Tips to Score Hotel Deals in Popular Destinations
Scoring a decent hotel rate in popular destinations like New York, San Francisco, or Miami can feel next to impossible, especially during peak seasons. Nightly rates at brand name properties easily soar over $400. But savvy travelers have uncovered ways to still sleep affordably - without sacrificing location or amenities.
The most obvious tip is timing your visit to hit shoulder seasons. A trip to South Beach in September can be hundreds less per night than over Christmas break. Monitor hotel calendars and go when fewer people want to visit. Weekdays are cheaper too - even in major cities, weekends often come with a premium.
Joining hotel loyalty programs opens access to member only rates and flash sales. Signing up for Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, and the like is free and provides early access to promotions. I’ve booked rooms in Times Square for $150 that normally go for $400+ just by having hotel status.
Bidding on Priceline’s Name Your Own Price is an oft overlooked way to save. You pick the neighborhood, quality level, and price you want to pay - and Priceline searches for a match. I’ve scored 4.5 star hotels in LA’s Beverly Hills for under $200 per night. Be flexible on the exact property.
Check whether your company, school, or organizations have special rates. Many offer reduced prices for business travel or even leisure visits. For example, AAA cuts 10% off Best Western and Hilton hotels. And AARP members save up to 30% with Wyndham, Choice, and others.
Alternative accommodations like vacation rentals and B&Bs are worth considering too. Local ordinances have restricted Airbnb in some cities, but deals still exist. And smaller inns provide a cozy experience often at a fraction of chain hotel prices.
Avoid rack rates and book via third parties when possible. OTAs like Expedia often secure lower prices than booking directly. And Travelzoo or Groupon can offer exclusive voucher deals at up to half off. Just be sure to read cancellation policies closely.
Location flexibility opens up affordable options too. Rather than central downtown, look at staying near transit in hip outer neighborhoods. You save money and get a more local experience. Or consider across the river or bay - and transit in.
Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Take Advantage of Airline Mistake Fares This Week
Airline mistake fares are the holy grail of travel deals. When a computer glitch causes prices to plummet, you suddenly have a chance to fly over oceans in business class or across the country in first for a fraction of the normal cost. While these fares get caught and canceled quite often, if you act quickly enough, it is possible to snap them up and have the deal honored. Just this week, a few of these unicorn mistake fare opportunities emerged, but you have to know where to look and pounce fast to score them.
One of the best resources for finding mistake fares as soon as they surface is Secret Flying. This service tirelessly monitors airline sites around the clock and sends instant email alerts the second they discover an abnormal low fare. Earlier this week, they notified members of Toronto to Dubai roundtrip in business class for just $867 CAD, over 85% off normal pricing. Though Emirates eventually retracted the fare, dozens of eagle-eyed subscribers acted fast enough to purchase tickets at the wildly discounted rate.
Another channel to watch is travel hacking forums and Facebook groups. The enthusiasts in these communities pride themselves on digging up pricing glitches and sharing the details with others in the know. Just yesterday, the Dans Deals forum uncovered a British Airways first class fare from several U.S. cities to Tel Aviv for just $1,300 roundtrip. That's over 90% off and by many accounts the deal of the decade. Members who jumped on it within the small booking window report successfully securing tickets before British Airways shut it down.
Mainstream sites have also gotten in on publicizing these mistake fares after they are discovered. The Points Guy and View from the Wing both ran posts about a Norwegian Airlines business class deal from the U.S. to Barcelona for an astonishing $250 roundtrip including fees. Though Norwegian ultimately did cancel the sale for most passengers, their coverage of the news likely helped some lucky readers take advantage of the short-lived deal.
Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Use Alternate Airports to Snag Lower Fares
One of the best-kept secrets to securing affordable airfare is exploring alternate airports in nearby cities. While most travelers laser focus on major hubs closest to home, pricing can fluctuate wildly if you’re willing to depart from a different location just 50 or 100 miles away.
I first discovered the power of flexible airports while living in Portland, Oregon. When hunting for deals to Asia, I constantly struggled to find anything under $800 during peak summer travel. Out of frustration, I expanded my search to include Seattle-Tacoma airport just 3 hours north. Shockingly, flights on the exact same routes were routinely $200+ less out of Sea-Tac.
Digging deeper, I realized each airport had access to a different mix of partner airlines. Certain carriers like Asiana Airlines and China Eastern only served Seattle. By tapping into these additional options, far more discount fare classes were available. Ever since, I always check alternate airports, knowing their unique airline partnerships unlock lower pricing.
Frequent flyer Ramy T. has taken this concept to the extreme, positioning himself to depart from any of 5 airports within a 5 hour radius. He runs searches out of his hometown St. Louis, along with Nashville, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Chicago Midway.
“I used to think I had to stick to Lambert Field in St. Louis out of convenience. But when I saw Chicago fares nearly half as much, I realized a 3 hour drive was totally worth it to double my travel budget.”
For best success, consider airports in smaller cities within a few hours drive. Their lower overall passenger volumes mean airlines have more discount seats to fill. I’ve discovered amazing mistake fares out of places like San Antonio while Austin and Dallas had no availability.
Connecting through a discount airline hub can work wonders too. Spirit Airlines fares are always cheapest through their mega-bases in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. But those cities are within reach on a low-cost connection if you live elsewhere in Florida. Accessing major Southwest terminals extends your options as well, since their prices don’t show on legacy airline sites.
International travelers have found even bigger savings by crossing country borders. Northern Europeans sometimes realized flights via Iceland on WOW Air or via Oslo on Norwegian were far cheaper than nonstop options. Similarly, Vancouver and Toronto offer West Coast Canadians gateways on Air Canada for less.
Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Flexible Travel Dates Unlock Hidden Flight Deals
One of the biggest factors that impacts airfare prices is travel dates. Airlines use complex algorithms to set fares based on forecasted demand. When lots of people want to fly a route, prices surge. When interest is low, amazing deals emerge. Savvy travelers know that having flexible dates opens access to these hidden low fares flying under the radar.
Marcus H. shared how date flexibility scored him a business class unicorn. “I was searching LA to Tokyo nonstop on ANA. For the dates I wanted, it was $5,000+ roundtrip. But when I expanded the range two weeks earlier, suddenly business class was available for just $2,300. Still a splurge, but flexibility saved me thousands."
Another reader, Casey from Denver, unlocked a surprise fare by searching a wider map of dates. "I wanted to visit my sister in Philadelphia in October, but fares were around $400 even months out. On a hunch, I decided to check all dates in September and October. Turns out the last week of September was $120 roundtrip. I can easily shift my trip earlier to save hundreds."
The key to success is checking prices at least 6 months out, if not earlier. Use the calendar tool on sites like Google Flights and Kayak to visually scan across seasons. Blue and green dates will emerge indicating the cheapest timeframes. Then you can align your ideal travel window accordingly.
It also pays to understand each route's unique pricing patterns. Flights to ski destinations crater in May when the snow melts. New England fares drop in January after the leaves change. Knowing historical trends helps target the periodic low points. Sign up for price alerts from Hopper or Skyscanner to get notifications when target dates dip.
For international routes, shoulder seasons typically offer the best fares as demand softens between peak holiday travel surges. April/May and September/October are prime times to target for Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. Be wary of major local events like Oktoberfest that still drive prices up.
Maximizing date flexibility also means avoiding locks - like prepaid hotels or cruises with fixed dates. Keep plans adjustable longer. Shop rates on refundable hotel bookings you can cancel or change later once airfare is secured.
Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Cash in Credit Card Points for Free Flights
Earning free flights through credit card points has become an obsession for many travelers. The flexibility and massive value provided makes miles irresistible. Ramy S. shares his journey to free first class flights through points hacking.
"I started small, signing up for the Southwest Visa and earning the 50,000 point bonus. That covered almost 5 roundtrips already! When I realized what was possible, I got strategic, applying for premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum. The big bonuses added up fast."
Ramy used points from cards to book his dream trips, including a first class trip to Japan on ANA. "I was amazed that a single roundtrip first class award from LA to Tokyo cost only 110,000 Membership Rewards points. The cash price was over $10,000. That really opened my eyes to the possibilities."
According to Ramy, flexibility is key to maximizing value. He suggests diversifying points across at least 2 or 3 different airline/hotel programs. That way you can transfer to whichever has the best rates for a given trip.
"I split my points roughly evenly between United, American and Hyatt. That gives me options no matter where I want to go. If United doesn't have award space, I check AA. If Hyatt's prices are too high, I can transfer points to Hilton instead."
Having cards that earn transferrable currencies like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards gives the most redemption power. You're not locked into a single airline or hotel program. As Ramy says, "Flexibility is everything if you want to travel long-haul in first class on miles!"
The key is applying for the right mix of cards and meeting minimum spend. scoring sign-up bonuses in the 50,000 - 100,000 point range quickly adds up. But you have to space out applications and plan it strategically over time. Check FlyerTalk and Reddit for advice from points enthusiasts.
No matter what though, Ramy stresses the importance of paying off balances in full each month. "This only works if you avoid interest and late fees. The goal is free travel, not debt. I put all my normal spending on credit cards now but treat them like debit cards. That way I'm earning tons of points without spending extra."
Skip the Sky-High Fares: Uncovering This Week's Top Flight and Travel Steals - Act Fast - This Week's Top Travel Promo Codes
Savvy travelers know that strategically utilizing promo codes can unlock substantial savings on flights, hotels, and more. But the key is acting fast once special offers are announced, as the best deals tend to disappear quickly.
Marcus S. has honed his skills at jumping on limited-time promotions before they expire. “I follow all the major hotel and airline accounts on social media and turn on notifications. That way, when Hilton posts about a 24 hour flash sale, I’m one of the first to see it and book a discounted room.”
He also recommends signing up for brand newsletters which often contain special subscriber-only codes. “I once got a Marriott newsletter with a promo for 15% off certain U.S. properties. I immediately booked a trip to San Diego that I had been planning, and saved over $200 compared to the rates just days before.”
To maximize savings, he suggests stacking coupon codes when possible. “Booking through the Chase travel portal gave me an extra 5% back on my Hawaii vacation package. Then I added a Hawaiian Airlines promo code for an additional 10% off flights. The combo discount brought my total cost under $1,000 for a week-long trip.”
Jennifer R. also unlocks substantial savings by piling on promos. “I’m disciplined about checking Groupon and Travelzoo before any hotel booking. They offer vouchers for discounted prepaid rates, often 50% off or more. On a recent Orlando trip, I scored a voucher cutting the Hyatt Regency rate from $270 to just $139 per night. Then I activated my World of Hyatt membership 10% discount on top of that. Booking at the right time stacked the deals for huge savings.”
Timing is crucial when it comes to promotional codes as the best ones come, go, and frequently sell out fast. That’s why savvy travelers recommend activating email alerts from deal sites when possible. “I signed up for alerts from Airfarewatchdog and Secret Flying so I’m among the first to know when they publish an airline coupon code,” says Ramy T. “I’ve scored $200 off Delta flights, $100 off American Airlines, and more by jumping fast once notified.”
Travel hacking forums like Dans Deals often crowd-source the discovery of unpublicized codes as well. “Someone posted about a targeted American Airlines promo code for $250 off $1,250+ flights booked within 24 hours. I dropped what I was doing, built an itinerary, and booked business class to Europe saving a fortune,” explains Marcus.
No matter where you uncover them, the key is recognizing a good promo code and taking immediate action. Jennifer admits she has made the mistake of delaying booking. “I once waited a day to finalize a trip I had priced out with a 30% off coupon code. When I went back, the promo had expired and I ended up paying over $1,000 more for my 7 night stay.”