Okay, so I didn’t really “hack” my way into airline’s websites like black market hackers do. I did however, find a way to exploit some of the inefficiencies and weaknesses in airlines for a significantly cheaper fare through Europe. Hopefully none of the targeted airlines in this post will ever find this post, so they will never do anything about it.
We all know how stressful booking flights can be. Especially international flights. Following up on my most recent post about 2015 being the year for American travelers, what good is a strong dollar is flights cost an arm and a leg? The price of the flight can very well make or break your trip from actually happening. Sadly, the strong dollar doesn’t translate into a cheaper airline ticket. Or does it?
Saving money on flights like a boss
Most recently, I booked a trip to Europe over Memorial day week flying into Germany, visiting Berlin and Munich, before taking a train to Austria to visit Vienna and Salzburg, and finally flying out of Copenhagen. A multi leg flight from NYC to Berlin, and Copenhagen to NYC was almost $900 on kayak.com but I had a hunch I could do better.
Turns out, I definitely could. I ended up purchasing my tickets for under $600!
Booking cheap flights through Norwegian Air
Norwegian Air is one of the newest of the budget airline crowd in Europe. For anyone that’s traveled through Europe before, Ryanair and EasyJet are likely recognizable names as they are both pioneers of the budget flight craze that’s commensurate with European travel now (shame America does not have any of these). Norwegian Air is Norway’s answer to help the world travel cheaply to Scandinavia.
For anyone visiting Oslo, Stockholm, or Copenhagen, Norwegian Air will very likely be your cheapest option. I’ve seen flights direct to Oslo for under $300 round trip. Of course, these flights are in the winter time when Oslo sees twice as much moon as it does the sun, but it’s $300! It costs me more to fly to many places in America than to Oslo in the wintertime.
Nevertheless, back to the story at hand, I managed to not only book a cheap flight on Norwegian, but an even cheaper flight than what was advertised.
With these budget airlines, it’s almost always better to search through their website (avoid services like Kayak, expedia, orbitz, etc.) and I initially began my search with these results.
Okay so the price is $487 one way, which is a bit steep but it’s Memorial day so everything’s more expensive. But wait, there is more to the story. Here is the kicker. What if I change the currency to something aside from American dollars??
Let’s see what Euros gives me?
Okay, so 414 Euros.
As someone that works in the financial industry, I know the Euro has been plummeting recently and 414 euros is certainly not $487. Doing my research, the euro on that day was exactly 1.07 to the dollar so 414 euros would actually be $442, or about $40 cheaper than what I found two minutes prior!
Okay, this is a bit strange. Could Norwegian air really be this careless with their foreign exchange? I’ve already tried the fare in euros, how about I try the fare in Norwegian Krone, the currency of Norway and Norwegian Air?
Changing to NOK (Norwegian Krone), gives me 3147 krone.
The exchange rate on that day was 8.24 NOK to $1, so converting this fare, 3147/8.24 gives me $382.
Wow. That is $100 cheaper than what the original fare would have cost me if I had just booked it in US Dollars!! And it took me less than a minute to save that money. Don’t know about you, but that’s a LOT of Bratwurts and beer that I just saved myself in Germany.
Similar thing on my return flight from Copenhagen to NYC, the initial flight in USD yielded me $254.
Applying my same trick of converting the fare into NOK (I didn’t even bother with Euros here), I get the following price.
So changing the currency to NOK makes it 1742 NOK.
Converting it at the rate of 8.24 on the day, I get 1742//8.24 = $211! More than 40 dollars cheaper than booking in USD from just the click of a button. To sum it up:
Booking in USD
NYC to Germany: $487
Copenhagen to NYC: $254
Which is about the same cost as flying on a normal non-budget airline and isn’t that bad acutally. My cost in NOK however, which I ended up booking in, yielded a much different result.
Booking in NOK
NYC to Germany: 3141 NOK ($382)
Copenhagen to NYC: 1742 NOK ($211)
That’s 150 dollars saved on a flight just by clicking two buttons. Not bad for two minutes work. While I’ve seen much cheaper flights on Norwegian air than what I paid, visiting Europe from America during Memorial Day will always results in a premium. Don’t believe that I actually booked the flights for this cheap? No matter, take a look at my credit card statement:
Why does Norwegian blatantly not look after its exchange rates and let people get away with this? I have no idea. But until they do figure it out, make sure to take full advantage of this. I certainly did and I will be enjoying my extra brats and beers because of it.
P.S: I’m using a credit card that does not charge Foreign Transaction fees, Chase Sapphire. Adjust accordingly the foreign transaction fees if you don’t have one.
Skip your layover
For most, booking a flight entails selecting your departure city, and selecting your arrival city. Whatever pops up is what it is. Perhaps you might go try another search engine but whatever pops up on Kayak.com or skyscanner.net is likely what you’ll stick with because you think you have no other choices.
Most of the time, this is true but spend a little more time searching, and you could reap the rewards.
For my Europe trip, I needed a one way flight from Munich to Copenhagen and like most people, I searched on skyscanner, and out came these options.
The cheapest flight was a direct flight on Scandinavian Airways for $220. Not the cheapest flight which I was bummed about. Then, just out of blind curiosity, I wondered where else I could fly to from Munich, and decided to try Riga, Latvia. Out came these results.
This flight to Riga on Scandinavian airlines had layovers in Copenhagen and Stockholm, and the first leg of the flight is actually the same one as my initial search from Munich to Copenhagen. Except it’s $160, $60 cheaper than booking the direct flight.
I quickly snatched this flight up and now I will just pretend like I’m flying to Riga from Munich but get off on my first “layover” in Copenhagen.
Make sure you only book this one way, as doing this with a return might void the flight. Also, DO NOT check bags because you certainly won’t be seeing them again.
Did it work for you?
Would love to know if this trick worked for you on Norwegian. Please leave a comment!