Do you live in a small town? Local airport not a domestic port for international travel?
Try this travel hack to find cheaper international flights!
If you’re looking to take a trip overseas, which always seems to come with multiple domestic stops before reaching your destination, try splitting your flights to save $$$!
Alright, I'm a visual learner, so let's look at a real-world, live search I sent to a friend of mine living in Asheville, NC. She is looking to travel to Sydney, Australia next spring and wanted to fly business class.
A basic search from Asheville (AVL) to Sydney (SYD) in April shows:
An hour to Charlotte, followed by a quick layover before another jump to LAX. She would then get on an overnight flight in business class to Sydney for a grand total of $9,817.
#1 Look at Surrounding Airports
If you live in Asheville, you know that the Charlotte (CLT) airport is less than a two-hour drive away. So, if you are willing to drive to the next airport (or hire a car for a relaxing ride), you can cut one flight. Look at airports nearby as a point of departure instead of just your small town. A quick 1-2 hour drive can save you in the long run and put more money in your pocket for excursions on your trip!
#2 Split Your Domestic Trip from International Leg
If you’re willing to drive to a nearby airport, you can then search for domestic flights from Charlotte (CLT) to Los Angeles (LAX).
The 42-minute layover found on the original American flight itinerary above doesn’t leave a lot of time for a bathroom break, or even walking from the domestic terminal to the international one. However, as you can see below, you can book any number of nonstop flights from CLT to LAX during the afternoon for $1,404. Depending on your personal preferences, you can select an afternoon option that provides ample time to meander through the airport, shop for that perfect airplane book and stop for a beer at the terminal bar.
#3 Consider Flying Economy on Domestic Flights
You can save even more in this hack if you are willing to fly economy (or economy comfort) for the domestic leg and then upgrade to business class for the long, overnight flights where a flatbed would be much more needed. More bang for your buck. Domestic flights on economy in this example save you a whopping $769!
#4 Book International Flights from a Large U.S. Port
Instead of booking your entire itinerary in one ticket purchase, split your international leg from the domestic flights. Make sure you provide enough time for transfers, especially if you are flying different airlines which are likely in different terminals. Large U.S. port cities like Los Angeles (LAX), New York City (LGA, JFK, EWR), Washington, D.C. (IAD, BWI) and perhaps Miami (MIA), Houston (IAD) or Boston (BOS) are good to check for each of your international flight options.
Booking the Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) flight separate from the domestic flight is $6,551 in this example.
By booking flight CLT to LAX direct at $1,404 (first class) or $635 (economy) and then separately booking LAX to SYD (business class) at $6,551, you save $1,862 or $2,631 respectively. Swapping to economy for the short, domestic legs create a huge savings! Just think about how you can use those extra funds to upgrade your hotel, include additional excursions or splurge on fine dining during your trip! Your budget goes that much further if are willing to do a little leg work on your airline flights.
Economy class tickets also provide savings with these tips, though they are not as magnified. Don’t forget to look at nearby airports and check large U.S. port cities for cheap deals before booking your international destinations!
It’s important to note that currently airlines seem to be constantly changing times and schedules. Different airlines and split tickets are at risk with these changes since your entire itinerary doesn’t change at the same time. If you’re schedule allows, build in a little more time between the separately booked flights to allow for delays or schedule changes so you don’t miss your important international flight!