How to Find Cheap Flights and My Booking Secrets

People often ask me how I find flight deals and my strategy for booking the flights. In this post, we’ll cover how to find cheap flights, the resources I use, and how I think about flights.

How to Find Cheap Flights

I’m a fan of Scott’s Cheap Flights for finding flight deals. If you’re not already on his mailing list, you’re missing out. We’ll use the deal below as the primary example in this post. Note that if you’re reading this at a future date, the deal is most likely already expired.

via scott’s cheap flights

via scott’s cheap flights

The deal highlights flights to London from the U.S. for less than $500 round trip on various airlines.

Economy Flights

The next step is to find a way to optimize your credit cards to book the flights.

Gift Cards

You’ll notice that American Airlines and Delta Airlines are two of the airline carriers with the sale prices. If you’re someone with an Amex Gold or Platinum card and bought airline gift cards, now would be a good way to redeem them.

To use more than three Delta gift cards for the booking, you’ll need to call Delta’s customer service line to book the flights and stack the gift cards.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you currently hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve and a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Chase Travel Portal is a good strategy to get an even better price.

In my experience, Chase UR points are optimal for booking economy flights compared to Amex MR points.

For example, using the Chase Sapphire Reserve (1.5x on travel):

  • San Francisco = $425 / 1.5 *100 = 28,333 UR

  • Orlando = $382 / 1.5 * 100 = 25,466 UR

To book the deal, navigate to the Chase Travel Portal via the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

You’ll also notice that upon first glance, the price might not be right compared to the Scott’s Cheap Flights email. However, this might be a fault on Expedia’s end being slow to update prices.

image via chase travel portal

image via chase travel portal

To see a more accurate price, select the tickets and go to the trip summary page where it will show the updated deal price.

image via chase travel portal

image via chase travel portal

The key to cheap flights is flexible travel dates. If the dates you pick aren’t on sale, Google Flights is a great tool to find alternative dates quickly.

Find the dates you want on Google Flights, and then book the flights using the Chase Travel Portal.

Google Flights 1.JPG

Business Class Flights

If you want to fly British Airways Business Class to London, One Mile at a Time has a great write up on how to book the deal for ~$1,400.

You’ll need to stack:

  1. $200 AARP discount

  2. 10% “CHASEBA10” discount

  3. End result is $1,396.63

If you want to upgrade from business class to first class, you can use 18,000 points one-way. h/t God Save the Points.

This gets interesting because Chase Ultimate Rewards currently has a 30% bonus on point transfers to British Airways. To take access Chase transfer partners, you’ll need to have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Ink Preferred.

You’re looking to transfer ~15,000 points each way.

  •  13,847 UR * 30% bonus = 18,000 BA

    • 27,694 UR round trip

  • 15,385 UR * 30% bonus = 20,000 BA

    • 30,770 UR round trip

Choosing The Best Seats

Once you book a deal, the next step is to find pick your seats. Do a quick Google search of your flight number to locate the type of aircraft you’ll be flying on.

BA 2.JPG

Type the flight number into flightaware.com to find the aircraft type.

image via flightaware.com

image via flightaware.com

With knowledge of your aircraft type and airline, you can then head to seatguru.com to find a map of the plane.

Seat Guru 1.JPG

Using the map from Seat Guru, avoid seats highlighted in RED.

  • Red = bad seat

  • Green = good seat

  • White = normal

  • Yellow = something you need to be aware of. YMMV.

image via seatguru.com

image via seatguru.com

image via seatguru.com

image via seatguru.com

image via seatguru.com

image via seatguru.com

The idea is that if you’re paying for something or redeeming points, you might as well get the best experience.

Where to Credit Miles

Business class flights earn a lot of points. To learn where you should credit the miles from your flight, check out wheretocredit.com. Since our example is from British Airways, crediting the miles form the flight to Alaska Airlines is the optimal strategy.

WTC 1.JPG


Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 

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