Buy an airline ticket and save some money

American Airlines at John F. Kennedy Airport

American Airlines at John F. Kennedy International Airport – from the Flickr Creative Commons

You’ve found a really good deal on airfare and you’re ready to book it. But is it a really good deal? You probably already know that you can find the same flights on different websites for less or more money, but did you know that the price can also differ depending on “where” you buy your ticket from or even what currency you pay with?

Let’s take an example of a flight that I’m looking to purchase. The flight is from Los Angeles to Johannesburg via London on British Airways from 04 Nov 2015 to 25 Nov 2015.

BA LAX>LHR>JNB USA

British Airways – LAX > LHR > JNB – $1034.72 RT

British Airways - LAX > LHR < JNB - $934.72 RT

British Airways – LAX > LHR > JNB – $934.72 RT

From the screen captures, you can clearly see that both itineraries are for the same flights on the same airlines, on the same exact days, but there seems to be a price discrepancy of $100. How is that possible? It has to do with “where” you buy the ticket; this is known as the sales city or point of sale. The first itinerary has the point of sale in the United States  while the second has the point of sale in the United Kingdom. So how do you change “where” you buy the ticket from on an airline website? Simple. Most airline websites like British Airways will show a “home country” near the top of the page; this will default to wherever you are in the world, so if you’re in the USA, it’ll default to USA. Simply click on Change country/language and choose whatever country and language you want. You could go through the whole country list and check fare differences but that’d probably be too much work.

Besides the point of sale, the price you pay for airfare can also differ just by simply choosing a different  currency. In this example I’ll use the popular Air Asia Asean Pass which let’s you travel throughout Southeast Asia using a fixed number of credits for each flight segment. The Asean Pass can be paid in a wide array of currencies including US Dollars (USD), British Pounds (GBP), Malaysian Ringgit (MYR), Philippine Pesos (PHP) and Indonesian Rupiah (IDR).

AirAsia ASEAN

If bought in USD, the cost of the Asean Pass containing 20 credits is $290; not a bad price for 60 days of travel. Here is the cost of the Asean Pass in some of the currencies mentioned above and the USD equivalent:

Cost of Asean Pass USD Equivalent
GBP 180 $280.71
MYR 888 $232.35
PHP 12900 $282.59
IDR 3550000 $263.54

As you can see from the table, if you’re an American, it’s cheaper to buy the Asean Pass in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) because it saves you almost $60! When purchasing something with a different currency, be sure to use a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees or else you’ll get slapped with an extra 3% on top of what you’re paying.

So the next time you’re looking to buy a ticket, make sure to check if the price changes in your favour by selecting a different home country or currency to pay with; it might just save you a fortune.

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