Decoding the Secret Language of Flight Deals to Find the Very Best Price
Beyond flash sales and airfare alerts, there is a dark, deep underworld where expert deal hunters discover and share secrets to scoring outrageously cheap flights.
And if you’re not familiar with the lingo, dropping in on one of these secretive messaging boards can feel a bit like listening to a game of Battleship.
Travelers who are serious about being the first to discover flight deals — or those who are interested in the somewhat shadier practice of booking fuel dumps and mistake fares — should begin watching discussion forums and messaging boards.
Here, travelers will discover entire message boards dedicated to fabricating cheap tickets. Over time, dedicated readers can learn to decode the jargon, which changes regularly to keep airlines from catching on. In addition to being privy to the members’ outrageous fares, travelers can also begin creating their own deals.
To give you a peek behind the curtain, we asked one insider to translate some of the secret code. Just remember — if you discover a loophole that leads straight to super cheap seats, it’s best not to share the good news with the airline.
The Game Board
Travelers might be searching for flights to C2 (Europe) from North America (C1), or from C4a (including Colombia and Peru) to C4b (such as Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay).
If you see a cheap itinerary with Maple Syrup, you know you’re going to fly with Air Canada. Depending on your route, you might find yourself traveling with Patriot (you guessed it: American Airlines).
Booking a third flight after a round-trip is one tactic airfare hackers use to trim the fat, or fuel surcharge, that’s added onto base ticket prices. There’s also a squeeze, which adds flights before and after the main itinerary, and a virgin strike: when nothing needs to be added to make the flight deal work.