Finding Flights, The Old-Fashioned Way

Folks, we’re going to wrap it up today with this last post and hunker down. Logan’s Internet went out a little over an hour ago, and I’m going to leave you with this last post for today.

In our check-in this morning, one of our readers, Sockhopbop, mentioned impulse buying a flight to Dublin for New Year’s for $700, and Lauren, another one of our readers, asked how it was possible to score a deal for an international flight.

Ah, we all want to know how to get good deals on flights, yes? People who are responsible with credit cards can play the airline miles game. And then there are the word-of-mouth deals—I will never forget the $250 roundtrip ticket I found from New York to Madrid in the spring of 2011 after a friend messaged me about it. Deals like that seem nearly impossible to get unless you have some sort of insider information. That’s why if you’re thinking about traveling internationally, you have to go straight to the insiders.

The insiders in this case, are travel agencies. Yes, I’m talking about those brick and mortar places that exist in real life with real life people with tons of knowledge about the destination you want to go to. Travel search engines are great if you’re flying domestic, but if you’re thinking about flying to say, Brazil, you might want to try to find a Brazilian agency that can help you score a better deal than any travel website can.

I went to a travel writers panel two weeks ago at the Housing Works Bookstore Café here in New York City because my friend Jodi Ettenberg was speaking. One of the audience members asked the panelists about how they get travel deals. Visiting a travel agency directly was one of the recommendations a panelist suggested. So how much savings are we talking about? As much as 40 percent, according to a post by Seth Kugel on the Times’s Frugal Traveler blog earlier this year when Kugel looked into booking a trip to Croatia:

“You don’t want to go to Zagreb and come back from Zagreb!” he practically shouted — common knowledge to him, apparently. “You want to go to Zagreb, go down the coast, come back from Dubrovnik. I’ll send you an e-mail in five minutes.”

His fare: $480, taxes included. That’s 40 percent off the cheapest online flight I had found. The catch: I had only an hour to commit. But if I had really been planning the trip, I certainly would have.

That extra bit of insider knowledge about landing in Zagreb and flying out from Dubrovnik is pretty nice. So the next time you’re planning on flying internationally, check out Kayak, Expedia, and your local travel agency. I definitely will—and I’ll report back on any savings I find.



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