6 flight tricks that major airlines don't want you to know

21 January 2009

With the increase in overbooked flights, lost luggage, surcharges and useless flight attendants, traveling by air is no longer a luxury. So here's a few tips that the fat cat airlines industry doesn't expect all passengers to know about, that may help you on your next flight abroad. Bon Voyage!

1. Rule 240: If you're flying transatlantic and never heard of Rule 240, you want to know it, just in case. As quoted from Aviation.com: “If an airline [can't] get you to your destination on time, it [is] required to put you on a competitor’s flight if it would get you there faster than your original airline’s next flight." If you don't remember anything else from us, remember rule 240, and speak up, man!

2. It's not just about Expedia or Orbitz: You've probably used those, and know that you can occasionally get better deals when going via online travel sites instead of directly with airlines.  However, there are other alternatives. Microsoft's Small Business Center suggests that you should look again at travel agents, or your local newspaper's Sunday travel section for deals.  For example, I recently booked a flight to Vegas > Seattle > LA > London for just £30 more than the direct cost of a flight from London to Vegas.  Not bad considering it actually stops over in each destination for 2-4 days.  How is this possible? Agents can often negotiate lower rates on the behalf of a large travel company through affiliate agreements.

3. YUPP, you can fly first: Just remember to get your travel agent to help you get onto the YUPP/QUPP/Z code, which automatically award ticket holders with upgrades to first class.  It's obviously a hit and miss, but according to FareCompare's president Rick Seaney, “a lot of times the YUPPs are matching some sort of low-cost carrier in a particular market.”

4. Be flexible on the days: According to Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, “you’ll find cheaper fares and greater seat availability if you fly on a Saturday and return on a Tuesday, instead of going from Thursday to Sunday or Friday to Monday.” Just simple supply and demand, and we all know it, but often forget.

5. Understand your refund policy. Make sure you check this, as airlines often sell non-refundable non-exchangeable tickets at lower prices.

6. Look at nearby cities. Some cities just work out cheaper to fly into than others.  Dublin, for example, often works out cheaper than London, thanks to Aer lingus, and low cost carriers like Ryanair within Europe.  Of course, only do this if it make sense.  Take into account the cost-benefit for every stop you have to make, and do stick to larger cities for lower prices.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you save some cash and fly more comfortably.  Bon Voyage!

TOPICS:   Travel

8 comments

  • jinkssick
    i fly a lot and i never knew about rule 240. the rest are pretty self knowledge. thanks main.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    I think 240 may be American only. I think also that it no longer exists in that form (federal law) but that the airlines have adopted it inhouse. See here for more info: http://consumerist.com/consumer/rule-240/dont-fly-without-a-copy-of-rule-240-250368.php
  • rich
    The last "tip" was a little strange! Look at nearby cities, fair enough if you go to Ciampino instead of the main Roman airport but Dublin instead of London!!! That's a bit out of the way don't you think?!
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    Depends how far you are flying. If you look on flyertalk the guys there regularly use various european airports as the long-haul starting point as it can be much cheaper than LON. So you do a cheap jump to Lisbon for example and then start the long haul from there. I think this is more the case with business class where you can save thousands instead of hundreds (which may not be worth the cost/hassle).
  • Simon
    Rule 240 - is no longer a standard requirment in the US according to: http://www.upgradetravelbetter.com/2008/02/05/rule-240-dead-mythical-or-alive-and-well/
  • Amanda H.
    The woman on the LEFT (Thats L,E,F,T) is a fox, groowwwwlllll. No I mean it, cant you see the tail? I think Shirley Manson has let herself go a bit.
  • Vince V.
    LOL @ Amanda. Re: Rule 240 - varies from airline to airline, but just becuase it isn't universal doesn't mean you should consider using it in worst case scenario. So just ask. Remember this only applies for mechanical/airline errors and not to weather. I like the tip on the upgradetravelbetter blog about reading the contract while a flight is delayed though! @Rich re: the idea of flying into a nearby airport - if you don't mind an indirect route it's a great way to save some £. Skyscanner actually provides that option. Check the indirect (?direct) route box and it will calculate prices with stopover in another city. I once saved over £80 this way, but of course, whether the £80 is worth the save having to stopover in some random city is an entire different question :)
  • celebrity p.
    Now that you have turned that knowledge into wisdom, you have passed it down to your readers for FREE! So I just want to thank you for everything you have done. It means a lot to me and everyone else on here.

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