Last week, I embarked on my own Adventures Abroad voyage to the Middle East. I kicked my trip off with a stop in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to spend some time with Brandi (you may remember her from our first Adventures Abroad Spotlight). Next, I headed to Istanbul, Turkey for two days before arriving in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel yesterday. In another three days, I’ll end my trip with an overnight stopover in Cairo, Egypt before returning to New York City. I’ll be honest – none of these cities had ever really been high on my bucket list of places to visit. Admittedly, from my sheltered vantage point, they all seemed like extremely dangerous and potentially volatile areas of the world. Definitely nowhere I’d ever want to spend my vacation..
..Or so I thought. But all that changed last Christmas around 3 in the morning. I was laying restlessly in bed when I came across the following Instagram post:
FARE ALERT // Get to the Middle East, India & Africa from $186-$700 round trip. We found flights from New York to Abu Dhabi for $187 roundtrip on Etihad! More info on our Twitter account: twitter.com/travelnoire #travelnoire #TNflightdeal [if you book this deal, type #booked in the comments]Happy holidays!
Wait a minute.. What?! Could this be real? Could I really travel halfway around the world and back for less money than I paid for my New Orleans getaway just a few weeks earlier? I had casually promised Brandi that I would visit her in Abu Dhabi one day, but in the same way you tell your friends you’ll go to Boot Camp with them, then laugh it off and file it in the deepest depths of your mind.. until they’re forwarding a 2-for-1 LivingSocial deal and asking if you’d prefer the 5:30am or 6:00am class. Neither. I’d prefer neither. This was my deal – my chance to make good on the promise I’d unwittingly put into the universe, a glitch fare too good to pass up. I couldn’t take much longer to make a decision. I was going to book it. At the end of the day, I could always recuperate the $187 if things didn’t work out. Because any frequent flyer that has mastered the art of finding great flight deals will tell you, Rule #1 is:
Book now. Ask questions later.
Once I received the Priceline confirmation email, I shared the deal with everyone I knew! Dozens of others took advantage of the same glitch fare from Etihad Airways – booking flights to Manila, Johannesburg and Hong Kong for prices as low as $270. My experience opened up my eyes to a whole new world of airfare deal alerts and websites. It’s been four months since I booked my trip and I haven’t seen other fares quite as low as my $187 glitch fare ticket to Abu Dhabi, but I have seen a few other notably low fares including round trips to Nairobi, Milan, and Hong Kong.
Flight Deal Resources & Websites
..And now the list you’ve been waiting for! These are my go-to resources, websites, and accounts to follow to monitor flight alerts and discount fares. Keep in mind, the more flexible you are with your travel dates and destinations, the more likely you’ll be to take advantage of these discounted fares. Another important distinction to note is that these websites don’t actually discount the flight fares for you (no sales or coupons), they just alert you when existing airfares drop or when there’s a glitch fare (like my unreal fare to Abu Dhabi). I’m pretty to new to all of this, so be sure to leave your additional sites and resources in the comments below!
The Flight Deal | theflightdeal.com
The Flight Deal is, hands down, my favorite airfare deal resource and also the website that originally shared the $187 Abu Dhabi glitch fare through Etihad. They publish daily alerts when airfares drop with sample travel dates, fare availability, and booking instructions. Deal Tip: For real-time updates, subscribe to The Flight Deal’s mailing list and follow all available social media accounts including Twitter & Facebook. If you want to take it up a notch, you can change your phone settings to receive notifications every time The Flight Deal publishes a tweet. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to get push notifications from Twitter.
Airfarewatchdog | airfarewatchdog.com
Airfarewatchdog is a great website for creating notifications around a specific trip or route. For instance, I created an alert for travel between New York City and Punta Cana for my best friend’s wedding in October. Airfarewatchdog sends me a daily digest with current fare prices along with other fares departing from New York City. They’ve also got a great running list of the Top 50 Fares. Deal Tip: Subscribe to the City-to-City Fare Alerts and the Departure Airport Alerts. You can select your frequency – I’d recommend Daily Alerts to make sure you never miss a deal! Also be sure to follow Airfarewatchdog on Twitter & Facebook for real time alerts.
Skyscanner | skyscanner.com
Skyscanner is quickly growing to become another favorite of mine. Skyscanner sends daily email digests with fare alerts for specified routes and/or dates. What I love about Skyscanner is that you can leave your search inputs pretty generic. For instance, through the website, I’m able to search flights from New York City to Bangkok anytime in 2015 to see which month fares are lowest. I could also search from New York City to Any Destination around the globe to see which countries return the lowest fare rates for a specific time frame. Airfare searches by month return results that are displayed in calendar view with daily rates listed below each day of the month. This is helpful in determining which days of the week are the most affordable travel days for a particular route. Deal Tip: Subscribe to daily fare alerts via email and follow Skyscanner on Twitter (follow based on your geographical preference) & Facebook for travel ideas and inspiration.
Google Flights | google.com/flights
I’m learning that many folks don’t know about Google’s Flight search engine! I don’t book a flight without checking Google Flights first. The search engine works similarly to many other flight search engines (Kayak, Priceline, etc) except you can’t actually book fares through the website. What’s great about Google Flights is that it combines the power of Google’s search engine and Google Maps to aggregate airfares across most major airline carriers and international destinations. For instance, I can use the ‘Explore’ feature to enter my departure city, select my dates, then peruse a visual map that shows me what it would cost to travel to various cities. Deal Tip: Google Flight results don’t always include every airline, so be sure to search multiple websites to find the best rate. Also, don’t be afraid to visit the carrier websites for fare prices that are not displayed within the Google Flight search results. Often times, discount airlines prices are not displayed within the Google search.
That’s my list! I also get many alerts from the various online travel communities I’m apart of including Nomadness Travel Tribe and Travel Noire. I dedicate about 15-30 minutes a day checking airfare deals. Depending on how much more (or less) time you want to commit to fare-scouting, your list may be longer or shorter than mine, but these websites should give you a good start if you’re new to airfare scouting. What additional websites or accounts would you add to this list? Be sure to share your deal finds in the comments below! Happy travels!