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Cheap Flights In the Most Unlikely Places

by Globetrooper Todd | 4 Responses
Cheap Flights

I scoured the web for four straight hours:,,, and about 30 other ‘cheap flight’ websites. It was a roller coaster. I started with a quote of $1,000, then cheered after finding one for $900, then jumped up with a dance for $800, then punched the air for $700, and then suddenly, Bingo! $500.

Out came the credit card as I clicked the big BUY NOW button. What? $1,100? Huh? What happened to $500? What? $600 in taxes? But how? Why? Darn it! Okay, back to the $700 quote. Somewhat subdued now, I hit the slightly smaller Buy Now button. What? $1,000? #%$&#%$!!!

Here I was, just trying to book a flight from Canada to South America, thinking I was super-Internet savvy for finding a hot $500 flight, only to be put in my place.

Not-So-Cheap-Flight Websites

After 2 hours of elation, then 2 hours of floor-stomping disappointment, I’d had enough of the not-so-cheap-flight websites and retired to the safety of the actual airline websites. And there I was, surprisingly, tail between legs, at the American Airlines website.

I added my origin, destination and dates, and came up with a good quote of $755. Woo hoo! (I’d since given up hope of ever finding a $500 flight.) Since AA is a big respectable airline, I assumed taxes would be included in the price. Nope, of course not.

Booking Direct with Airline

Okay, I’d had enough. I just hit the buy button and that was that: a total of just under $1,000 So I get to the payment page and then… uh oh… more trouble. In the list of ‘Your Country’ for my credit card billing address, well, Australia just wasn’t there. Okay, so I can’t pay with an Australia credit card. *Deep breaths*. “Oooo, Paypal”. My new-found joy was expressed a little too loudly in the crowded cafe. Oh, no Australian option, again. :(

So I called AA customer service and they direct me to the localised Australian version of the AA website. Okay, mea culpa, my fault. I log in, expecting more troubles. Then, guess what? Remember those $755 flights. Well, now they’re $800, before taxes of course. But, wait a second, this is in Australia dollars. (I quickly go to to find the exchange rate.) Wow! So not only are they cheaper, but I won’t incur a foreign currency charge on my credit card. Woo hoo! And this time the cheer was justified.

Booking Direct on a Localised Airline Website

So in the end, the cheapest flight came directly from the airline, from the local Australian website, and had nothing to do with any of the cheap flight websites that everyone seems to espouse. And the best thing, the departure and arrival times are much more civilized than any of those multi-stop multi-airline red-eye alternatives.

So what was the verdict? I paid about AUD900, which is about USD820, which is USD50 cheaper than anything on, which admittedly, was the most transparent and trustworthy site I encountered. So there you go, try directly with the airline and try the local website. They’re certainly not always the cheapest, but in this case they were.

Posted in Travel Hacking | September 3rd, 2010

4 Responses to Cheap Flights In the Most Unlikely Places

  1. this happens to me all the time!!! lol… I try to find indirect flights and the local airlines. Ive found Aerolineas argentinas is pretty cheap to Buenos Aires but it only goes out of miami it seems. For Colombia the colombian airlines are really cheap as well. Also the time of year is a biggie too, i always try to travel the opposite time of year

    • I wonder if there’s a tool out there that checks all routes and displays prices inclusive of everything. Or I wonder if sometimes the airlines reserve the cheaper prices for their direct customers.

  2. I just wish it weren’t so time-consuming to find a decent flight that doesn’t expect you to take out a second mortgage to pay for it. I am SO sick of the bait-and-switch online where a flight is listed at the lower before-tax price, only to jump to ridiculous levels once you start confirming. Granted, I haven’t run across a price jump quite as high as what you experienced, but still. Everyone has a budget to work with and “hidden fees and taxes” make it really difficult to stick to a budget. It just feels very dishonest to me.

    • That pretty much sums up my thoughts too. What’s even worse is trying to get an award flight with frequent flyer miles. Chris G from AONC said it best…

      “When you call up the airline to book an award (many bookings still need to be made over the phone instead of online), the odds of encountering a knowledgeable person are about 50/50. The odds of encountering a friendly person are also about 50/50—so your goal is to find a knowledgeable, friendly person (25% odds). If you hit the knowledgeable, friendly jackpot, you’re in luck, and that person will help you get where you need to go without hiding information from you.”

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