As of late, the travel industry seems transparent. Real people will give you the scoop on your hotel on TripAdvisor, compare fares yourself with flight-search website, and it’s absolutely impossible for a terrible tour provider to mask its reputation on the internet.
Still, there are few tricks of the trade that travel insiders and providers don’t want to share. And here are seven little secrets you’re probably never knew about.
1. Two one-way tickets may be cheaper
You don’t have to arrange your departure and return flights to a destination on the same airline. In fact, it may be cheaper to split your trip with two one-way flights from different carriers. Try searching for each fare separately. Travel website such as Kayak.com.au and Skyscanner.com.au both automatically compile itineraries that have two one-way tickets on different airlines as part of your booking options.
2. Deleting your cookies may get you a cheaper flight
Ever been shopping for a flight only to find after you’ve checked it a few times, the price has mysteriously gone up? Some travel websites covertly install your computer with a cookie that tracks your shopping and browsing behaviour, and then jacks up the ticket cost one it knows you’re interested. Try using Private Session Mode (Firefox) or Incognito Mode (Chrome) if you don’t want to clear your cookies.
3. Hotel room rates are negotiable
In need of a last-minute hotel room? Sometimes, walking into a hotel and bargaining with the front-desk agent can really pay off. Most of the time that the first quoted price isn’t actually the final price, especially if a prospective guest pretends to walk out and go somewhere else.
After all, the hotel makes no money on an empty room, so it’s better for the hotel to let a room go at a reduced rate. You can also try to negotiate over the phone.
4. Lying to the airline can save you heaps
You don’t want to lie to the airline about your personal information when booking a flight, but fibbing about your final destination can save a lot of money. Most airlines use hub-and-spoke systems for their flight routes, meaning that the hubs are where most of their non-stop flights begin and end, and flights to the spoke cities connect through the hubs.
You can game the system and get a cheaper fare by booking a flight to a spoke city even if your final destination is a hub city.
So you could book the cheaper one-stop flight but get off before the final destination. Of course, you need to ensure you fly only with a carry-on so that your bag wouldn’t get checked all the way through, and you would have to book two one way tickets (a separate one for your return flight) as the airline will cancel your entire ticket as punishment if you fail to your second segment.
This is also known as “hidden city ticketing” or “throwaway ticketing,” and it is stressed that it violates the rules of carriage you agree when you purchase an airline ticket. So it isn’t recommended to do this at your own risk.
5. Buying individual tickets might be cheaper than group tickets
Most things are cheaper when bought in bulk, but it doesn’t always apply to plane tickets. Sometimes, airline websites will show group tickets at higher rates than individual tickets. Try running a search both ways (as a group and as individuals) before purchasing.
6. Airline employees have more power than you think
As stated by consumer advocate Christopher Elliott, ticket agents can punish problem passengers in a variety of ways, often without anyone knowing it. They can exact their revenge on travellers by bumping them off flights, forcing them to check more luggage, or sending them to a security line for a once-over from the security agents.
Conversely, being polite to a frazzled ticketing agent could snag you the last seat on the next flight out after yours has been cancelled.
7. Hotel receptionist can make or break your stay
It pays to be nice to the front-desk clerk when checking in. Guest don’t know it, but they often have a lot of leeway to decide on which room you get right up to the very last minute. If you are impatient or nasty, you’ll get a room in front of the elevator, or the one that overlooks the street where the tramways runs until midnight. So be nice.