Sky from a plane

My Wedding Wish: The Cheapest Flight to the U.S. I Can Find

July 15, 2012

in budget travel, flying, trip planning, wedding

Despite all the traveling I’ve done, I feel like I’m still not savvy when it comes to booking airfare.

I never know when to buy, I never know the best route to take, I never know how to get creative enough to get some sweet deal (like Brooke Schoenman was able to get on her last trip to the States).

Now that I’ve officially started pricing flights to the States for my wedding in April (squee!), I feel like I should shake things up to see how low I can go. This trip will undoubtedly be my most expensive journey home given the wedding price tag attached to it; that’s why it’s more important to me than ever to find the best deal there is. Here’s what I’m researching:

Different-colored luggage in a rowFare sale alerts: I have several set up for slightly different dates and different airports (both NYC area airports and Philly) to see when prices drop. I must be careful, as my wedding falls around Easter, so if I don’t find the right sweet spot, I’ll be stuck paying a higher holiday fare. I don’t, however, want to take too much time off work for my wedding, so while there’s a little flexibility, it’s only within maybe one or two days.

Alternative budget flight sites: I’m doing a little more digging to see what else is out there in terms of sites that compile low-cost air fares. I’ve always relied on certain sites, but it was time take inventory with all the competing options that have popped up over the years. I realized I had misconceptions about some sites in the past. For instance, I always thought Student Flights was just for students, but they actually can find cheap international flights for the rest of the traveling population as well.

Piecemeal flights: Who says you have to book a single return ticket for the whole journey? I’m pricing round-trips to Los Angeles and then seeing if I can get a low-cost return flight between there and the east coast with a separate carrier (if anyone has ever successfully done this, I would love your tips).

Cobbled-together frequent flyer/reward points: I have flight reward points for several different airlines and while I don’t have enough with any one of them to get a return flight to the States, I am close to having enough to pay for a flight when I’m already in the U.S. Perhaps I can wait for one of those deals where you can buy double the points for a cheaper price.

Do you have any tried-and-true tips for finding low-priced flights or have you found a new trick? Share them with me and make my wedding wish come true!

Images by fabhouess and o5com

12 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Brooke vs. the World

    I hope you can find a killer deal for your special trip home 🙂 Maybe wait another month or two to see if prices change. I’ve been looking at flight prices lately and nothing has been cheap at all — seems like they’ve gone up since our last visit quite a bit *sigh*.

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks chica. I never know when to hop on a price early or wait it out. I am really afraid for this that the prices I see right now are only going to skyrocket — it’s a tough call. Looking forward to seeing you back around this way soon.

  2. Heather

    Like you, I signed up for special alerts prior to heading to Oz in 2010. I knew a one-way flight could be a crazy expensive, and I lucked out finding a deal with VAustralia from LAX to Sydney. Then, I looked, and waited, and looked, and waited some more to find a great one-way fare from DC to LA. I was quite pleased in the end! The only downside in my mind? I was nervous the few days leading up to the flight and the day of…I didn’t want the first flight to be delayed or canceled. And if they had lost my bag, I would have had to deal with that!

    Good luck finding a bargain flight!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Ahh, that is definitely a worry when you book the two flights separately. Though I guess that can happen even when it’s all technically part of the same flight/ticket. I seem to see more bargains for SYD to Cali than the east coast. Thanks for sharing that you were able to do it successfully!

  3. Erik

    Good Luck! That’s a particular flight known for it’s lack of deals, but I’m sure you’ll find one, especially if you set you heart and mind on it!

  4. Laura

    I hear ya – had to go home this [US] summer. used the second leg of a round trip to get home.

    then – i bought a one way back here. i was in LA already [after spending summer in Mass. and NY] and bought a one way from lax via fiji to brissie for $560. insanely cheap and the flight – whilst not posh- was fine, no probs. air pacific. 10 hrs from LAX-fiji and then 3.45 hrs to brissie.

    i know you’re not in brissie but maybe they fly to sydney too. plus you can’t beat a layover in fiji of all places.

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks Laura — that does sound like a killer deal. Were you able to have any layover time in Fiji?

      I should have updated the post to say that I actually did find a flight through an airfare deal that ran a few weeks ago — $1,500 roundtrip to NYC. I am very pleased. I’ve only gone up incrementally since the first flight I ever booked home from here two years ago. It’s much better than $2,000+!

  5. laura

    The layover in Fiji is about 3 hours – enough to do duty free and look out the terminal windows … suppose I could have slated in a two or three day layover, wish I’d done that. $1,500 r/t to NY is incredible – which airline was that and through which cities? Well done.

    1. Lauren Post author

      Hey Laura — It was through Delta, but there was also a similar fare through Virgin. I went with Delta because I have a bunch of miles with them and think this trip might actually net me a free flight next time I book. Our stopover is LA and we land in JFK in NYC.


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