The best flight is a free flight obviously, but sometimes, you either don’t have enough miles or the required miles far exceeds the equivalent dollar amount. If you’re flying to Europe and instead of spending $1,600 on a ticket, you use 60,000 of your 100,000 miles, that’s a great redemption. 2.6 cents a mile is a superb redemption value and if you have the miles, you should absolutely use them for this particular ticket. But let’s say that the ticket costs 200,000 miles (which isn’t out of the ordinary for Delta); you might not have 200K at your disposable and even if you do, you are only extracting .8 cents per mile, which is horrible. They are worth 2 cents in almost every other circumstance, but you are now only getting .8 cents. If you are in the latter situation, what can you do?
Like everything else, a little planning is required. Believe it or not, buying a ticket with cash can be the most financially responsible thing you can do. Cheap airfare exists, but it can be elusive. This is why I love the site Airfare Watchdog.
Airfare Watchdog has a lot of great search features, which aren’t all that revolutionary, but they are effective. What really sets this site apart is the alert function. You pick a city-to-city trip and then get emails anytime the cost drops below a normal level. This is an amazing way to find specific flights at the best price.
You’re probably thinking that these alerts would just be special promotions on specific days or that you’ll get an email every day, anytime the cost drops $1. However the algorithm for the site works really well, it’s been my experience that the alerts are legit. The flights that the site emails me are not for specific dates and not for crazy routes. It works really, really well.
My most recent use of the alerts was for a Christmas flight to Germany, which I would have normally used 60,000 miles to pay for a $1,600 flight. I got an alert in April for an $800 flight and booked at that point for Christmas. Awesome.
So if you have no miles, are building up your miles or even have a ton of miles, go set up some alerts for your travel bucket list. I’m confident that you’ll find some incredible deals.