This post may tempt you to do some dangerous things… it’s up to you. If you can handle it, then by all means proceed. If you are going to come back to me later complaining about all the money you just spent on a ticket to Paris, then just wuss out now and go read something else. It’s okay.
The first thing you need to do is go to the Travelzoo site and sign up for the Top 20 alerts. Every Tuesday, Travelzoo sends you a list of the best 20 deals they’ve found on the web. Unlike some other “deal” emails you may get (I’m looking at you Kayak!), these are real. Travelzoo actually has real people checking up on them to make sure they’re valid. You click the link in their email, which takes you to the Travelzoo site, where you can get more info before proceeding along to the actual seller of the flight or tour or whatever.
There are often great deals in these emails. Just last year I went on a week long Ireland trip with round trip airfare, B&Bs and rental car for about $1600 per person in mid-summer. At that time, the airfare alone was over $900.
The real benefit to being on this list is probably the Newsflash emails, however. About every week or so, I get one of these. Sometimes the “40% off flights to Orlando!” deals are not that exciting, but at other times I’m frantically booking the crazy cheap flight to Sydney or wherever before the airline has figured out what they’ve done.
The danger of course, is that you will book a flight to Sydney (or Stockholm, or London) on the spur of the moment, then spend the next few months peeling money from your budget to pay for this little fling of yours.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If you fly enough, you’ll develop some strong preferences: aisle or window, Airbus 320 vs 747, even which side of the plane you’ll be on (hint: in warmer climes, the sunny side of the plane can get crazy hot as it’s sitting at the gate).
Seat Guru can help. Listed there, by airline, and then by airplane type, is pretty much everything you need to know. Which window seats don’t actually have a window? Which seats don’t recline all the way? Where is the loo? All answered on their color coded charts.
Occasionally these charts are not fully up to date, as airlines change the configuration of seats whenever they can figure out a way to squeeze a few more in there, but overall it’s a great way to at least up the chances that you’ll get a good seat.
As someone who has more than once sat in the incredibly loud, no recline hell of the last rows, that truly is something to appreciate.
Simply the best thing that’s happened to travel planning since the internets.
Go to the ITA Software website here: http://www.itasoftware.com/
Click “Search Airfares Using QPX”
Log in as Guest.
From there, perform whatever search you need.
The thing that differentiates this from every other flight search is the option, on the upper right, for a “Month Long Search”. This allows you to view the cheapest fares for a given route over an entire month, making it incredibly easy to tell if its cheaper to fly on a Tuesday or a Sunday, etc.
The only catch, if you can call it that, is that you cannot book flight through this service. You should be able to book a flight online or over the phone using the exact dates, flight times and codes shown. I have, twice now. It could hardly be simpler.