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How to score a FREE Layover, FREE Flights and Status Matches

Who wants a free layover, free flight or a status match?

Singapore skyline
Singapore skyline (Source: Pixabay)

How about a free weekend in Singapore, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpar? How you would like a free flight from Manchester to Heathrow or meet and greet airport parking for a song?

Well if you are based in the UK, today I’m going to share some lesser known general tips for getting the best deals on your travel arrangements, whether booking reward flights or paying cash. There’s some useful tips thrown in for those based Stateside too as I don’t want you going away empty handed.

FREE UK connecting flights

If you are redeeming AVIOS reward points for British Airways flights from the UK and aren’t local to London airports, you can bag yourself a free flight from a regional airport offering flights into Heathrow. It costs me the same number of points whether I fly from Heathrow or Manchester. Frankly a four hour journey from my home in Yorkshire to Heathrow does not excite me so having the option to bolt on this flight is a real result for me!

Beware the same is not true if you are paying cash for a flight. Then you will pay slightly more for the privilege of flying from your local airport but don’t discount this out of hand as it may still work out cheaper once you factor in petrol and additional parking costs.

Jackie’s post ‘The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking – Maximising One Ways and Stopovers‘ covers a similar theme for those based in the UK.

Cheap parking

By travelling from my local airport I may have an extra layover but parking is considerably cheaper at Manchester. We pay around £30 for a weekend’s parking including meet and greet. We’ve just booked for ten days departing next week and that has cost £50 including Meet N Greet. We recommend Eazy Parking (book through the Purple Parking link below) to bag yourself a bargain!

Plus if you are flying business, you get to enjoy the lounge in London for a little longer, and more importantly perhaps squeeze in a spa treatment before your next flight.

FREE stopover in Johannesburg?

Many routes allow different stopovers. For instance, flying to Sydney would allow for stopovers in Hong Kong or Singapore.

Hong Kong Skyline
Hong Kong Skyline (Source: Pixabay)

Flying from Manchester to Cape Town, I have options to stopover in London or Johannesburg. Of course, I’d be mad not to take the opportunity to go visit another new location especially when the price is exactly the same whether I stop off or not.

I could even go for the multi-stop flights travelling from Manchester to Sydney via Hong Kong and returning via Singapore. This way I get to visit yet another city at very little cost.

I remember the first time I did this and could not believe my luck when I bagged a few days in Fiji en route to New Zealand followed by a few days in LA on the way back. It’s a great way to visit a country for less and tick another country off your giant travel map.

Fiji sunset
Fiji sunset (Source: Pixabay)

You can take advantage of this whether redeeming points or paying cash so you don’t need to have a huge stash of points to book these. Great news for anyone just starting on their travel hacking journey.

Booking Reward Flights

FlyerMiler

Created by Andy of Economical Excursionists, this tool allows you to quickly search for the best award deals for your chosen destination. You will then need to navigate to the relevant website to book.

You can also elect for a personal consultation with this travelling duo and let them take care of the research for you in exchange for a small fee.

Finding the best non reward fares

I appreciate you may wish to earn airmiles but you want the best fare too right? Assuming you are not using miles to book a reward fare, I recommend using a flight search engine to seek the best deals. You can easily add the flights to your loyalty program afterwards to be sure of earning points.

Tripstreak

There’s a few great ones to select from. How about Tripstreak, a new search engine, which even shows you how many reward points you will earn at the same time?

Tripstreak search home screen
Tripstreak search home screen
Tripstreak search results
Tripstreak search results

Skypicker (now known as Kiwi)

Or you can choose Skypicker, a site which has a cool map feature allowing you to set a budget and find destinations within a particular geographical area.

Skypicker search page
Skypicker search page

Google flights

Google flights allows you to search on a similar basis to Kiwi picking the month of travel, any destination (or narrowing it down to a region) and see results on a map.

Google flights search
Google flights search

Matrix ITA

Sites like Matrix ITA allows you to search for flights to destinations and include flights to cities nearby so you can take advantage of hidden fares but do search for each route independently. The screenshot shows you an example of how this works.

Matrix ITA search
Matrix ITA search

Booking hidden city fares

This may sound like something out of an Indiana Jones movie and to be fair, it’s something the airlines don’t want you to know about.

It involves booking a flight from A to C which transits in B. You actually want to visit B but the cost of the fare to B is more expensive than the cost of the fare from A to C so you book the ticket to C and jump off in B.

There are a few problems with this as some carriers simply cancel your entire ticket if you fail to take the first flight. For instance we travelled from Manchester to the Maldives via Dubai and missed our flight to Dubai. When we tried to call to rearrange we were advised that the entire flights had been cancelled.

In the example above therefore, travelling from A to C is fine if you have booked a one way ticket however if you plan to return via plane and miss the flight from C to B you could find yourself offloaded. So if you do decide to risk this strategy, be sure to book one way tickets only.

I say risk because booking hidden city fares is usually in breach of the terms and conditions of the airlines because they want to discourage the practice, but really how can they prove you deliberately booked an hidden fare or that you didn’t have a family urgency that happened to require you abandoning the remainder of your journey?

If you want to read more on this subject, you can read this article from View From the Wing.

Check your fare type

This is something to check before you click to buy. In reality, the cheapest fares are the ones with virtually no flexibility. If you want a fare allowing changes and upgrades using airmiles, then you will need to splash more cash.

For other flight terminology it may be worth familiarising yourself with, be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking Basics from the Globetrotting Teacher.

Statusmatcher

This is a pretty awesome site which allows you to get an idea of how you might be able to obtain an upgrade in loyalty status for hotel and airline groups.

Lets say you have Hilton Gold membership and would like to use Marriott more often but don’t want to lose the perks of your gold membership, you could contact Marriott to request a status match. Statusmatcher allows you to check the likelihood of getting upgraded.

Marriott Park City
Marriott Park City

I’ve often wondered about this and am going to give it a try as frankly I hate the beds at the Hilton but love them at Marriott so would not be averse to switching allegiance.

So there you have it, some top tools and tips for booking flights and getting the best deals.

Have your say

I’m sure you guys have some great tools you also use. What other money saving tips do you have for flights? Be a gem and pop them in the box below as we would love to hear from you.

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Singapore Pinterest
Source: Pixabay

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Click on the link if you fancy downloading a copy of the first chapter of my forthcoming E-book.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of TravelTheGlobe4Less. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 80 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money saving travel tips

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15 comments

  1. From now on I’ll take advantage of a free layover so that I can experience the country even for a while or a day. Love the insightful tips!

  2. I’ll be sure to pass this on to my friends in the UK! Cheers!

  3. I dont live in the UK so can’t utilize a lot of this but I do love Google for flights!!!! Gonna see if any of these other tips are applicable to US folks 😀

  4. Some fabulous tips – I love utilizing your tip for a free stopover – I did this a few years ago when flying back to Sydney from Africa – spent 7 days in Dubai for the same flight price! No reason not to take advantage of the layover and make it extra long!

  5. Excellent tips . I always try to cover two countries via free layovers when I am traveling. Mostly coz there aren’t any travel hacks, error fares etc ex – India. This is the best way to save money and see more 🙂

  6. Who does not like a freebie! All important pointers to this end. Quite useful for reference. I do know about Singapore Changi Airport providing a free city tour by Bus if you have a layover in Singapore.

    • Ooh now that’s a great tip. I remember seeing a sign for that years ago in Changi and had totally forgotten but what a great way to get a sneak preview of a city.

  7. Great read — full of helpful tips! My favorite is the idea of a free layover — why not experience yet another destination for FREE?! Love it!

  8. I’ve been searching for a way to use my AVIOS points ever since they changed their rewards. Thanks for the very useful tips!

  9. Thank you for this great guide. I like how you use real world examples. I have never taken advantage of layovers and hadn’t even heard of hidden city fares! Will need to look into these next time I am booking a flight.

  10. Thank you for these tips! I have to get better at taking advantage of things like layovers and hidden city stops. After reading this, I definitely feel like I’m leaving benefits (not to mention money) on the table when I’m flying. New goal for the year!

  11. I am airline brand loyal as much as possible to score the free upgrades and miles for free trips. Every trip for the last 3 years has been business or first class, even though I purchase coach airfare. It really does pay to understand the rules and how to use them to your advantage.

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