Note: This article is outdated. Flightfox is now a corporate travel management business. For tips on how to find cheap airfares, check out my hacking airfares guide.
When I posted my tips for finding cheap airfares a few months ago, many of you were surprised at how complex the process was. And, I totally agree with you. I’d estimate I could spend up to at least 20+ hours whenever I need to research and book a flight somewhere.
For me though, it’s all in good fun. I love the challenge of finding a good airfare and dreaming about the different places I can go. However I get that not all of you are quite as crazy as I am.
This brings me to a new service I recently came across. Flightfox is a relatively new venture which allows you to work closely with an airfare searching “expert” to help you find the cheapest flights available. I was definitely intrigued when I heard about it, and had to try it out.
The opportunity to finally do so arose recently, when I needed to get from Manila to New York. It’s a route I’ve never flown before, and as I was booking last minute, I figured I could use some help. Time to see what the kids at Flightfox can do!
First thing I needed to was simply describe my trip and submit it. I gave them a range of around 3 days as I was semi-flexible, and described my route. Then I paid the one-off fee: $49.
Within an hour I was introduced to my ‘flight expert’.
Within another hour, he had something for me:
In the end, it was just a simple Kayak search result he sent me, nothing I couldn’t have done myself. However, until that time I had been limiting my search to Skyscanner, which hadn’t actually found this option. So it was actually cheaper than what I had found myself.
And while the result itself wasn’t some super-hacked airfare, I was impressed with how thorough their search was. I would never have time to search over 100 websites, and have also never considered buying frequent flyer miles before – quite a good tip I’ll look into in the future.
Then, I needed a date change. Luckily he was totally cool with this:
Again, despite not getting me a super cheap airfare at this stage, I was impressed with the thorough search they did, certainly more thorough than I’ve ever done, and I do my fair share of airfare searches.
After a day or so, we found something decent:
Unfortunately, the price went up before I could book it (airfare prices change very often, especially last minute fares).
We chatted for a while about other options and the likelihood of the price coming down again (I won’t post it all here), but we concluded it would be prudent to wait a day or two. Luck was on our side:
I booked the recommended flight, and then decided to pick his brain for a bit. How often do you get to chat with an airfare hacker?
And get some expert tips for my eventual flight back to New Zealand:
As you can see, you can definitely learn a lot from these guys!
Overall, I really enjoyed having an expert to work with. The flight they eventually found for me wasn’t anything exceptionally hard to find – it was just from a simple flight search engine, but it was a good flight and had I not had someone looking out for it, I very possibly would’ve missed it.
It was also very clear to me that these guys knew exactly what they were doing. They have scripts running so they can scour hundreds of sites within minutes, and seem to know a ton of little hacks as we saw above. I’m 99% sure I wouldn’t be able to find cheaper flights than these guys (same price maybe, but cheaper, no).
But to me, the real value in Flightfox wasn’t actually in the money saving – it was the time saving. On a flight that I probably would’ve spent 20 hours+ fiddling around to find on search engines, I needed to spend barely an hour checking in with my expert and getting updated. On top of that, there’s the comfort in knowing you have an airfare search expert working behind the scenes finding you the cheapest flight possible.
When to use Flightfox?
Using Flightfox won’t be necessary on all flights – for simple flights, such as Auckland to Sydney or Singapore to Bangkok, everyone should be more than capable of finding a cheap flight themselves. Where there are direct routes, finding hacks isn’t really possible, and you should be able to get what you need by using a simple search engine like Skyscanner. If you’re in doubt how to do it, check out my guide to using Skyscanner to find cheap flights.
Instead, consider Flightfox if you have a rather complicated itinerary that has the potential to be expensive. For example:
- You’re doing multi-city trips, like Hong Kong to Rio with a stopover in Paris.
- You’re flying a route that has many possible routes (e.g. Asia to South America)
- You’re flying between two places with no direct flights available (e.g. Auckland to Paris)
- You’re flying to a place you’ve never been and the route is expensive and/or long-haul.
- You’re doing a round-the-world trip (just check out this in-house contest where they covered 6 continents for $1,700!)
The fee for using a flight expert starts at $49 (prices goes up for more destinations). I honestly think this service offers exceptional value. Spending $50-$100 on a Flightfox expert to get an itinerary for thousands less than your travel agent – seems like a no-brainer to me.
If you’ve been looking for a way to outsource your airfare search, don’t know how to search for cheap airfares, or simply can’t be bothered doing it yourself, Flightfox has a definite thumbs up from me.
- For affordable accommodation, I highly recommend using Airbnb. You can get $25 of Airbnb credit, absolutely free, using this link.
- For easy and affordable travel insurance, I always go with World Nomads.
- For more useful websites for cheap flights, accommodation and more, you can check out my Resources page.
Note: I paid in full for my Flightfox service. You can read my Disclosure Policy here.