Savvy flight shopping for Expats

Toruń, road bridge on Vistula - flight shopping

Toruń, road bridge on Vistula river, Poland

By now most people are familiar with big flight ticket aggregator / search sights like kayak.com. These are a great place to start hunting for tickets. If you have used kayak recently you might have noticed they started offering “hacker fares” which are basically patched together with multiple airlines. In this post we’re going to discuss four unconventional places to find your own hacker deals in a foreign country.

NOTE: This method can take some time to dig through the details and visit multiple sites. That’s the spirit of hacking, anyway!

Flight shopping – Local language version of kayak

Start with google translator and find the words for “flight” and “sales” and “special offers” and so on in your country’s language if you don’t know them already. If there is a local language version of kayak, it is likely to be in the top 10 or 15 search results. Navigating aggregator sites (even in a foreign language) is fairly intuitive and even you have difficulty booking a ticket through the site, at least you can find the name of the airline and go to their website, which is usually at least partially in English (it is an international industry, after all).
One example is Brazil’s submarinoviagens.com.br, the local version of kayak.

Flight shopping – Cheap airline listing page

This is simply a website listing discount airlines (which are particularly common in Europe right now). This is NOT THE SAME as a discount airline flight search website, which are not as effective in my experience. The industry is based on razor thin margins and low marketing budgets with little or no room for referral payouts to websites, so there is little incentive for a site to really cover all the connections, although you can get close.
Your best bet is to find a good listing website, like www.attitudetravel.com and visit the airlines’ sites directly to check the route maps and connections etc.

Flight shopping – Airport schedules

If you know where you need to go, just find the city or region’s airports and check the arrival / departure schedules. Again, this is just a starting point to identify the airlines serving the airport, you will need to visit the individual airline sites to look for deals and prices.

This method can be a little tedious but can uncover what I would call “scrapper” airlines that have hardly any marketing budget and compete on price alone. A good example would be a German airline called Condor, which does one-way international cheap flights (which is rather uncommon) to many locations from Europe including Brazil, Florida and Thailand. Note: I can’t see any reason (apart from gouging) for the major airlines to push customers into roundtrip tickets with their pricing structure. This company seems to be one exception.

Flight shopping – Local travel deals blogs

This is my personal favorite – simply a website with a team of people monitoring the local industry for special deals and even pricing glitches in the airline computer systems. It’s very fast paced and first-come-first-served, so just subscribe to the notification list and be ready with a trusty web translation tool. Usually it is possible to buy tickets directly from the blog: this is how they make money along with advertising. Note that these types of sites DO cover cheap airlines that might not get coverage elsewhere on aggregator sites.

Two top picks in Flight shopping:

How to find a site like this? It can be a little tricky. I would start by a combination of google and asking friends in your country – especially young urban professionals; they’re usually the target market for this type of site.
Do you have any suggestions for blogs in other countries?

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