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How Can I Maximize Flight Deals If I Live in a Smaller City?

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TPG reader Bryant sent me a message on Facebook to ask about finding cheap flights:

“I see a lot of deals for international flights from New York and LA, but none from here in Buffalo. What’s the best way to capitalize on flight deals if you don’t live in a hub city?”

It’s been a while since we saw a truly sensational mistake fare (with the exception of April’s Qantas deal from LA and SF to Auckland for $225 round-trip), but there has been no shortage of impressive flight deals lately. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo and New York to Stockholm for under $400 round-trip, along with plenty of others. As Bryant points out, most of these deals originate from hub cities or other large markets, but you can take advantage of fare sales no matter where you live.

The best strategy is to simply look for cheap connecting flights. This might seem obvious, but a lot of people seem to overlook this option and get discouraged from jumping on deals that don’t serve their home airport. Ultimately, it’s worth spending a bit extra to get from Buffalo to New York if, for example, you can then fly to Paris for only a few hundred dollars. Make sure to factor in any other costs you might incur by connecting, such as extra baggage fees or hotels (if your itinerary requires an overnight stay).

Similarly, you can look for inexpensive awards to set you up for an international departure. British Airways eliminated the lowest redemption level for domestic awards earlier this year, but you can still book economy flights up to 1,150 miles for just 7,500 Avios each way. American Airlines offers reduced mileage awards to (and from) a rotating list of North American destinations, including many smaller markets. Southwest and JetBlue are also good options for connecting flights during a fare sale, since award prices and cash prices are linked.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
It’s worth paying for a connecting flight if it helps you take advantage of a great deal. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

One nice aspect of buying a connecting flight is that you have the usual 24 hours to cancel with a full refund. If you see a great deal, you can jump on it right away and take the day to try and connect the remaining dots. If getting yourself to the departure city proves to be too costly or inconvenient, you can call the airline and get your money back. On the other hand, you may be stuck paying two change fees instead of one if your plans change beyond the free cancellation period, so there’s a little added risk.

Make sure you follow @TPG_Alerts on Twitter to catch the latest flight deals, and check out these posts for more tips on finding cheap airfare:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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