Disclaimer: Large Family…Will Travel is sharing its experience using discount airfare tracking services, but this post isn’t sponsored by any of the companies mentioned.
Airline tickets are often 20-25% of the total vacation bill making it critical to choose wisely when booking your flights. This is especially true when flying internationally. For our trip to Europe, my wife and I had enough airlines miles through work travel and credit card points to cover the entire family. We did have to get creative booking with one airline for arrival in London and other for departure from Amsterdam. Purchasing travel insurance still made us shell out some cash, but ultimately cut our total bill down by a third!
Now, we are climbing our way back up the airline rewards ladder with Italy and Greece on the agenda for summer 2020. So I started researching a number of discount airfare tracking services that help you find great deals on tickets. Here is a quick review on a few of my go-tos:
Airfarewatchdog tracks deals on flights, hotels and credit card rewards programs. It’s free,money-saving alerts is what I’ve used most to keep an eye on upcoming deals. You just need to provide your email and departure/arrival airports. Then, Airfarewatchdog will provide daily alerts on the lowest fares. The alerts are helpful, but won’t necessarily provide the rates for your exact dates.
SkyScanner offers similar services as Airfarewatchdog tracking flights, hotel and rental car discounts. What I found more helpful about their alerts is how they show pricing based on your travel dates. You aren’t able to to enter multiple locations for review, but entering your most ideal departure location should work. The alerts also provide comparative price trends and what the total cost would be for the entire family.
Many foodies say that the best restaurants are ones where they are focused on being the best at a limited number of dishes. That describes Scott’s Cheap Flights when it comes to tracking airfare. Their only focus is helping travelers find the lowest price on plane tickets. For a $39 annual fee, I receive daily updates on international flights from my primary departure airport. Scott’s Cheap Flights will send you a slew of notices about low fares so you have to monitor regularly for your final destination.
We signed up a year ago just to assess how it worked. The deals they find only last for 2-3 days so you need to jump on them as soon as possible. When we decided to do our next summer trip to Italy and Greece, I started to monitor the alerts more seriously. Research showed average airfare prices at $800-$1,000 per ticket round trip since it is high tourist season. My goal is always to cut total travel expenses in half so the target was $500.
We were 10 months out from our vacation so the window for purchasing was not showing up. But once November hit an alert appeared for $400! I quickly jumped online following the instructions to find the price. This unveiled more about how the whole things works. The search led us to a great deal but on a budget airline with limited flight options. Albeit a great price, I was hesitant to book right away. The reviews on this particular airline weren’t great either. Thankfully, there were more options from brands like Delta and United. With some deeper digging, we were able to find departure tickets on American and British Airways that totaled $550 round trip. Although above the $500 limit, it still saved us more than $250 per ticket or $1,250 total!
While all the tracking sites provide value to your family travel planning, Scott’s Cheap Flights offered the best guidance we needed to save on airfare. Here are some key takeaways no matter what you decide to use for discount airfare tracking:
- Start monitoring discounts at least 6 months before your trip
- Use the first month of monitoring to determine the max you are willing to spend per ticket
- Be ready to make a purchase within 24 hours as deals can come and go on a daily basis
Happy hunting for your next awesome discount that saves you thousands in 2020!