Planning on visiting Asia and you are traveling on a budget? Check out this neat trick that anyone can do to fly to Asia and save money.
The Backstory: Asia is one of the most competitive markets for airlines. Every country has a large national player, you name it – Singapore Airlines, Air China, Korean Air, Thai Airways, EVA Air – and they all compete fiercely for the same routes. This cocktail is a bonanza for travellers looking to find a deal. Here, we teach you how.
The Technique: Book your flight for another city with a stopover on your actual destination city and pay less.
In Practice: Lets go to Taiwan. I picked a random date (January 15th, 2014) to try out this technique. We will be searching for the cheapest one-way flight to Taipei following these simple steps:
- Do a quick search on Kayak.com. I checked for prices and the cheapest flight from LAX to Taipei is with EVA Air at $628 USD. If you want to expand your search, also make note of the next 3 cheapest airlines.
2. Go to those airlines’ websites and check what other cities they travel to – make note of those cities. In this example, we went to EVA Air’s website and checked for flights to other Southeast Asian countries.
3. Go back to Kayak.com and search for flights to those secondary cities. As you browse the options, look for flights with stopovers. The trick here is to search for flights with a stopover in your actual destination city. In most cases, the airfare will be more expensive (for obvious reasons) but if you search enough you will find a cheaper rate. In this example we did!! We found a flight from LAX to Manila with a stopover in Taipei for $529 USD. That’s $99 dollars cheaper. And here’s the beauty of the trick: If you look at the details, both options are actually the same flight – EVA Air Flight #11. It’s just that its cheaper to buy that flight when going to Manila than when going straight to Taipei.
The Execution: During your travel day, please make sure you tell the check-in attendant that you only want to check-in your flight and luggage to Taipei – otherwise your luggage will be circulating aimlessly in a carousel in Manila!! I’ve personally done this twice, once in Frankfurt and once in Jakarta, and I was prepared to give explanations and come up with a story but both times the check-in attendants just smiled and didn’t ask anything.
The Reason? Although I don’t know the exact reason why this happens I would love to speculate. My best guess is that it’s a necessary algorithmic mistake. In this case, EVA Air wants to have the most competitive pricing from LAX to Taipei and it does. It also wants the most competitive pricing from LAX to Manila and they are the second most affordable after United ($22 USD cheaper). These are two completely different markets with different players and different levels competition. This strategy make perfect economic sense, its where the demand and supply curves meet. However, we can take advantage of this algorithmic fallacy by checking for stopovers and booking cheaper flights.
Next time you travel, spend an extra 15 minutes looking for alternative routes and with a little luck you’ll save some extra bucks.
Bonus Tip: Every time you travel, make sure you check the actual airline’s website as well. In some cases they have cheaper pricing. In this case, the same flight is quoted at Kayak.com at $529 USD when you can find it at EVA Air’s website for $511.20 USD. All-in, combine these tips and save $116.80 dollars versus booking the traditional way.
For Travel Nerds – Screenshots of the entire process:
Step #1: http://screencast.com/t/lmnwxZybX
Step #2: http://screencast.com/t/rzVgqj7y
Step #3: http://screencast.com/t/ALKAaCBAluw
Bonus Tip: http://screencast.com/t/JVN9erbE1
About the Author:
Alex Saad is the Founder and CEO of ShuttleWizard.com. He hopes to use his travel expertise to find cheaper airport transportation deals for fellow travelers. ShuttleWizard.com is an airport transportation search engine and reservations platform. You can find the best deals on airport shuttles and airport car service nationwide.