“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” — Al Gore
Isn’t that the truth? Purchasing airline tickets is a complicated digital-aged process. Adding the hours I search for the best routes and the lowest prices for airline tickets online, it totals 200 hours a year. That is over 8 days of searching for airline tickets!
Yes, we travel a lot! So, I thought I would give you some helpful ideas of where and how I buy our round-trip tickets from Nicaragua. I love Google Flights because it gives me more information than other travel search sites.
1. Find the cheapest months to fly.
In Google Flights, it is a breeze. Choose your location and destination and then select “flexible dates.”
Below is a flight from Managua to Los Angeles using a random date.
And flexible dates from Liberia, Costa Rica to Los Angeles.
So far, it looks like Managua has the cheaper flights to Los Angeles than from Liberia, Costa Rica. But, wait!
2. Choose an outbound flight to check the best flights according to the time of departure and the length of the flight.
Below, the cheapest flight is Spirit Airlines. But, the time is inconvenient for us and the length of the flight is too long. Plus, we’ve flown Spirit before and we know that this price is the bare bones cost without any luggage or personal carry-ons.
Below is the best flight for flying out of Liberia. TACA is $377 and a shorter flight. We’ve flown TACA many times and we really like TACA because they give you two check-in bags for free and they give you sandwiches and drinks, unlike most of the other airlines.
Do you see the sentence that says prices are not available for Southwest? This leads me to the third tip.
3. Always book directly with the airline.
I went to Southwest and this is what I found for the outbound flight.
Returning flight from Los Angeles to Liberia
Total cost is $368.75 per person. The times are perfect for our connecting flight to Fiji and New Zealand. It is a 5 hour flight. Actually, I just booked this flight, different dates, but the same times.
4. Do a search comparing two airports.
When we lived in Nicaragua in 2004, it was cheaper and more convenient to fly out of Liberia, Costa Rica than Managua, Nicaragua. Then, Costa Rica built a new airport and the prices rose making Managua cheaper. Lately, Liberia has been cheaper.
Since we live on Ometepe Island, it is a shorter and cheaper trip to Costa Rica. Once we get to the mainland, it is a 20 minute ride to the border. Then, we pay our exit fee to leave Nicaragua. Since we are residents of Nicaragua, we pay 200c each to leave the country. At the Costa Rica side, we show them our airline tickets to leave Costa Rica. Then we catch a bus to Liberia, which takes a little over an hour. Total cost of flying out of Liberia is usually $46 for two if we don’t have to spend the night in Liberia.
Returning, we pay our $8 to enter Costa Rica, walk across the border to Nicaragua, show them our residency cards so we don’t have to pay anything to enter Nicaragua, and catch a bus or a taxi to San Jorge to the ferry to take us back to Ometepe.
To fly out of Managua, we have to catch the first ferry at 6 am. Then get a taxi to take us to the airport, usually $60+ tip, and because we can never get connecting flights, we always spend the night in a hotel. Total cost of flying out of Managua is usually $175 for two.
5. A few general tips about booking flights
a. Use a private browser.
Since I check the flights daily, the websites save my information, so I always use a private browser that doesn’t know I have checked like a thousand times. The cost rises on many travel search sites if they know you are checking prices daily.
b. If possible compare prices using a PC and an Apple device.
I don’t think this applies to airlines, but it definitely applies to rental cars and hotels. Once we rented a car from Enterprise and checked at the same time on my Macbook and a Dell computer. The price on the Dell was considerably lower than on my Macbook for the same days of rental. Those tricky devils!!
Also, some sites, like Travelocity, “dim” the lower cost hotels. It is better to go directly to the hotel website to book your stay directly.
c. When to book
It used to be that Tuesday or Wednesday were the best days to book a flight. But, the airlines have caught on and they changed the best day to book. Now, Sunday seems to be the best day to book with the lowest prices. Your best bet is to check everyday, though.
d. Google Flights gives you option to check prices for one airline.
For example, when we were in Atlanta in June, we volunteered to be bumped from our Delta flight to Liberia, Costa Rica. It was my birthday and oh what a birthday present I received! We were given food vouchers, a nice hotel room, and the best of all…$1,000 in Delta vouchers each for our next flight.
That’s where Google Flights come in handy. I can do a search specifically for Delta Airlines. from Liberia and it will give me the prices and suggestions all over the world. Where should we fly with Delta next year?
Wanna Get Away? Google Flights will show you the way. Happy trails to you!
What suggestions do you have for finding cheap flights in your area of the world?