Since this was a multi-destination trip I broke the trip into 2 pieces. The main piece was flying out of San Francisco to Singapore with the return flight stopping in Hong Kong for a few days. I was able to find a price for this piece at $680.40 per person. You heard me right, that's about the same price for a round trip ticket to the east coast from San Francisco. For the second piece of the trip I needed a round trip ticket from Singapore to Penang, Malaysia. For that I found a fare of $55 per person on Tiger Air. Tiger Air flies a lot out of Singapore and the flight to Penang will be 1 hr and 30 min each way. So flying from San Francisco to Singapore with a stay of 4 days, flying from Singapore to Penang with another stay of 4 days, back to Singapore, Singapore to Hong Kong with a stay of 2 days and finally back home from Hong Kong to San Francisco all for the low fare of $745.40.
Now let me tell you how I did it.
When I first started looking the fare for just a round trip ticket from San Francisco to Singapore was between $1300 and $1400. I started early so I had time to shop around. I like to use sites like Kayak or Travelocity to do my initial searches. Also, if you have time you can set a fare watcher that will notify you when fares drop. Fares will vary depending on what day of the week you are searching so if fares drop and you don't catch it they may go back up. About a month before I booked the flight the fare dropped to about $900 on Singapore Airlines. That was my preferred airline and I almost booked the flight then but decided to wait a little longer. It was risky but I took the risk. As it got closer I started looking every day. My last search was on Kayak and I hit the $680.40 price. However, when I went to book the flight at $680.40 it transferred me to the Singapore Airlines site and the price jumped to about $1400. There was no way I would pay that so I captured the information and called Singapore Airlines directly. They informed me that the $680.40 was a travel agency deal and they could only book at $1400. Since I never give up I then tried Travelocity to see what I got. On Travelocity I got the same $680.40 and I was also able to book through Travelocity. What a relief, I got the price I wanted on the airline I wanted. After that it was easy to book the Tiger Air flight to Malaysia at a low price.
I have been doing this for years now so here are my best practices.
- Plan early.
- If you have multiple options for airports find the cheapest option. For me, I live in Sacramento but flying to Asia is a lot cheaper out of the San Francisco Bay area.
- Start checking prices early.
- Be flexible on dates. Leaving on a different day could save you a lot.
- Set up a fare watcher if possible on the search site like Kayak or Travelocity.
- If you see a great price grab it, don't wait. If not wait.
- Check different search sites.
- Break up a multi-destination trip into segments of different round trips. For me I did 2, San Francisco to Singapore to Hong Kong to San Francisco and the other a round trip between Singapore and Malaysia. This turned out to be a cheaper option.
- If you are a gambler take a chance that the price will drop further.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider and maybe a lot of time to commit. If you aren't comfortable trying to do this yourself use a travel agent. The airlines do not offer commissions on air only so the agent may add on a fee for their time. But, as you can see you can save a lot of money. I saved about $700 per person. The agent fee will be minimal compared to that. They know what they are doing and you could still save a lot.
PS, I just did the same search and came up with these results (1 month before I leave).
- The same flights on Singapore Air - $1443
- Singapore Air later in the same day - $1216
- EVA - $1099