Quick Tip: A Tool For Making Sure A “Deal” Really Is A Deal.

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JFK-MXP & PRG-HKG for $148!
JFK-MXP & PRG-HKG for $148!

Introduction

I have been traveling the globe for almost a decade now on trips as long as 18 months and as short as a few days.  Over that time I have become known in my group of friends as, “The Guy Who Gets All Of The Travel Deals”.  The truth is much more complicated than that.  I am actually someone who spends a lot of time looking for deals, but who also has a great system in place for determining what is a good deal and what is a rotten one.

The other day I mentioned how to setup deal alerts in order to get in on the action before the masses come and kill a deal.  To continue in this series of posts, today I will bring you another tool I use to gain relevant information in order to ensure a travel “deal” doesn’t end up costing me much more than it appears on the surface.

Fuel Dump Fares

The internet has been abuzz the last two days concerning fuel dump fares from the USA to Europe and then on to Asia.  I am actually booked on November 4th to fly from New York to Milan and then from Prague to Hong Kong on November 12. The cost of my ticket was $148 including all taxes.  How could I turn that down?  This fare is still available for some dates.

I am actually combining this deal with my $15 Frontier fare to Washington so I will already be on the east coast.  To get to New York, I will use 4,500 Avios and fly on either American Airlines from IAD-JFK or US Airways from DCA-LGA.  This post isn’t about the sale fare though, so for more info, you can visit Flyertalk.

What Is The True Cost

Photo by epSOS.
Photo by epSOS.

I actually want to talk for a second about the other costs relating to “deals”.  If you are like me, then your mind goes crazy when you see an incredible deal. Often times you just want to book it and worry about the details later.

Unfortunately those details do matter, especially when you are looking at the overall cost. Depending on your destination, you could end up spending hundreds of dollars in transport and lodging on your “killer” deal.

One of the biggest costs associated with travel is getting to/from the airport.  This is especially the case if you are like me and try to fit in extra long layovers or stopovers in order to see new places.

When seeking out places to visit, or when evaluating deals, I prefer cities with public transport options connecting the city to the airport.  Some of my favorite stopover cities have metro or subway lines directly from the airport to the city center. (Singapore & Hong Kong are great examples.)

Quickly Finding The Information Needed Before The Deal Is Gone

Wikitravel   The Free Travel Guide

Over the years I have developed quick search methods to not only determine if I want to book a deal, but also to find the secondary costs involved with that deal. (Transport, lodging, etc.) Before I book a “deal” I need to know what sights interest me in that given city, how many miles I will earn, hotel costs & transport costs among other things.

Today I will talk about one of my favorite resources for quickly finding out a lot of this information. Wikitravel is the Wikipedia for travel destinations and is organized in a way that I can quickly find out what I need to know.

The key is that each city’s page is organized in the same way, so I can quickly pull what I need from that page.  Instead of finding a website about that city, I go to Wikitravel and in less than a minute I know the basics including transport options to/from the airport.

Research Done For This Deal

Prague transport information from WikiTravel.
Prague transport information from WikiTravel.

In the case of this mistake fare, I looked up Milan and found that it will cost between €10-15 each-way to/from the airport.  Since I have to leave Milan for Prague anyway, I might just save that money and book a flight to another city before going to Prague. (A city with easy transport to/from the airport.) For the Prague airport, I found that there is a bus which only costs about $1.50 USD to/from the airport.  This makes it a perfect city.

I mainly use Wikitravel to find out quickly about transport and then go back to fill in the other details later. For this deal, I used it for the airport transport information as well as the metro and bus information within the cities.  I then used flight booking sites to find the cost of traveling between the two cities.  My total search time was less than 3 minutes and I knew I had a good deal on my hands. While this particular deal has lasted longer than most, sometimes every minute counts as many die almost immediately.

For full disclosure, I also considered the cost of returning home since this deal only gets me as far as Asia. I have plenty of miles, so I will most likely be using AA miles to fly on Cathay Pacific first class since that is one of my favorite products. If you read the Flyertalk forum linked above, you will see that some people are paying prices much higher than mine (for different dates/destinations) and in my opinion not getting a good deal.

Conclusion

The other day I showed you how to get notifications of the best deals before the masses.  Once you have that information, it is important that you act quickly before the deal is gone.  Acting quickly is fine, but it is also important that you are completely aware of all of the costs associated with a deal.  If you get a fantastic price on airfare only to break the bank on lodging or transport, then it is no “deal” at all.

While I have a number of tools to share with you about how I find the best deals and search for relevant information, Wikitravel is one of the most important.  I use it all of the time and love that every city has the same layout so I can quickly find the information I need.  Give it a try the next time you are researching any trip! I guarantee it will help.

 


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