Origo.hu shares the story of a blogger, named Ákos, who hunts for extremely cheap flight tickets with which he travels around the world. If you are flexible and open-eyed, all you need is a small amount of money.
Ákos told origo that, for a while, he was rather afraid of flying, but he had always been fond of travelling and he once found the cheap promotional offers of Ryanair. Thus, he started looking for such opportunities, and he could travel to Barcelona for a cost of 11,980 HUF, and then to Forli for 4180 HUF, and he became passionate about getting cheap flight tickets. The name of his blog, where he shares his experiences, is Utazómajom (“Travel monkey”), for he loves monkeys and finds this name funny, bold and easy to remember. When he is not managing his traveling plans he works as a developer. Aside his job and other activities it takes a lot of his time and effort to seek inexpensive journeys and organize his travels.
He says, the breakthrough was his journey to America, because he could book return tickets to New York for only 8700 HUF, which is quite incredible. That was the first time he left Europe and realized that there are so many beautiful places he would like to visit, as cheaply as possible. You could be wondering how it is possible that flight tickets and accommodation are available for such low prices. So, according to him, one of the most common mistakes is that the prices are simply wrongly registered in the Global Distribution System (GDS): they miss a zero, the digits are falsely written, or the decimal points are placed badly. This is the greatest source of errors, as the registering is done by humans.
The other main reason is that sometimes, the systems cannot calculate the exact tariff nor do levy the fuel surcharges. These also result in rather attractive prices for the customers. For example, in the case of transatlantic tickets, 90% of the price is based on the fuel surcharge. Although, the blogger says there is no proper technique to find these error fares, he and others are constantly trying to find one. When one flight is found, they analyse it until the cause of the error is understood. Then they try to use the same schema for different routes, as the online travel agencies are browsed by many, so they must find an error sooner or later. Furthermore, they had written a programme: a scraper, which analyses the results of other users’ search.
As mentioned before, it is a rather time-consuming activity to seek for cheap tickets, but for Utazómajom it is worth it, as he could not have gone to such journeys if it was not for the low prices. Also, he gets quite happy and proud, when someone gets to travel at a good cost thanks to him. This can happen, because, when he finds a great offer, he shares that on his Facebook page, and thus, many people become aware of it and give him positive feedback later.
Travelling this way evokes different feelings in the providers. In Dublin, for instance, they stayed at a 4-star wellness and golf hotel for 3500 HUF/night, and breakfast was not included in the price, as it would have cost an extra 3700 HUF, but eventually, they were given a breakfast without extra charges. However, not every staff is so nice when it turns out that they travel at a lower cost. The staff of Qatar Airways were quite uncomfortable about them, they did not let the blogger and his company get off the plane at Budapest on the Budapest-Doha-Budapest-Zagreb line.
About missing a plane because of a line getting in later he is not scared at all; if the routes are under the same reservation number, then there is nothing to worry about. In the worst case the airline makes a booking for the next flight, free of charge. If one has to wait for a day accommodation is also provided. But it is advised to leave at least 2-3 hours for changing the flights. When a flight is delayed for more than 3 hours chances are high to get compensation.
Some of his most successful bookings included free travels to Milan, Brussels, Copenhagen and Dortmund, or flights to Mallorca, the Canaries and Morocco for 10,000 HUF. The return flight to India costed him 79,000 HUF, otherwise, he says, he never would have got there. He mentions India, Morocco, the Philippines, Miami, Hawaii and South-Eastern Asia as destinations he would love to go back again. There are no places he would actually rather avoid, but he says that China was not really compatible with the European thinking and devices, and thus they felt quite uncomfortable there.
Sometimes though, it happened that the airline noticed the low price and cancelled his booking. He paid about 40,000 HUF for a flight to Galapagos, which would have cost millions of HUF. The United Airlines noticed the error, cancelled the reservation and gave refund. Therefore, he suggests that passengers should keep it in mind that the extremely cheap tickets can be easily deleted, so wait a bit before booking accommodation and make sure it can be cancelled in case the flight’s availability changes.
For anyone interested in travelling abroad cheaply, he advises the following and checking of internet sites which advertise extremely low priced flight tickets, make quick decisions, and try not to call the airline’s or the accommodation’s attention to the low price of the journey. Also, travel when it is cheap and to where it is cheap. Thus, it can be easily seen how much travelling depends on flexibility and openness. Especially because the best opportunities present themselves at the most unexpected and “worst” times or situations.
Copy editor: bm