How Teachers Can Get The Best Airfare Rates

Over 4,500 teachers have traveled the world on GEEO programs, and we’ve also helped many of those educators find the best airfare rates. These are our tips for finding the most budget-friendly flights for your GEEO program.

Planning your flight

Before you search for flights, please factor in your layovers and dates.  We feel it is important to exercise caution when scheduling your flights. Because of the potential for flight delays and cancellations, we recommend minimum layover times of three hours, and ideally a layover of four hours. If possible, we recommend arriving at your destination one day prior to the start of your program to allow a buffer in the event of major delays. Arriving early will also allow you more time to explore the starting city. Departing a day early or returning a day later might also save money, as airfare prices often vary based on the day of the week. Even if you tend to use a particular nearby airport, it may also be worth investigating fares from other airports that are a few hours away.

If you are having trouble finding reasonable airfare prices, we recommend searching for flights from a major hub city, like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, or Atlanta. If the prices are significantly better from those airports, the most affordable option might be to fly between your nearby airport and that hub city on one ticket and a book separate international ticket between the hub city and your destination.

Wait until your trip is confirmed

We require a minimum of six participants for nearly all GEEO programs. We officially confirm that a program will run once at least eight people have signed up, which provides a margin for individual cancellations. We recommend waiting until your program is confirmed before you purchase flights unless the tickets have flexible change/cancellation policies. Non-changeable fares can be much more affordable, but you should only purchase them when you are certain you won’t need to cancel your trip.

Use a Flight Search Engine

As a first step, we recommend using search websites like Kayak and Google Flights to find the best routes and airfares. If you want to try a more advanced search system, try out Google ITA Matrix, which indexes more flights and has more search criteria. We highly recommend booking directly with the airlines, as they are more reliable than third-party sites like Expedia. Please do not book a flight through an unfamiliar website. In the event of flight changes or cancellations, airlines typically provide more dependable customer service if you booked your flights directly through them. If you are not in a hurry to book flights, consider using a price tracker alert, which can be set up on most flight search websites, to monitor prices over a few weeks. If you would like assistance searching for flights, please feel free to contact us at travel@geeo.org.

Get Humanitarian Rates

If you are traveling through a nonprofit organization like GEEO, you may be eligible for humanitarian rate airfare, which may be more affordable than rates you can find on travel search websites or airline websites. We previously recommended AFC Travel (formerly Fly for Good) because they are one of the few travel agencies in the country registered with airlines to offer the humanitarian rate airfare for which our travelers are eligible. However, over the past two years, several of the major airlines in the U.S. have ceased offering humanitarian rates. These discounted rates are now only available on a select few routes, to the extent that we feel booking through a humanitarian rate agency no longer provides significant value to our travelers. At this time, we do not recommend any particular travel agency, and we will not be able to do so until we find an agency that we believe takes customer service as seriously as we do. Please know that we are constantly exploring better flight booking solutions and will keep you informed if we find an improved method.

Follow these other helpful tips from farecompare.com:

1. Shop on Tuesday

The best time to book a U.S. flight is usually Tuesday at about 3 p.m. Eastern Time. We have previously explained why Tuesday is the best day to shop for airline tickets and it’s because many airlines release weekly airfare sales in the early morning hours of Tuesday, and by mid-afternoon, competing airlines have matched sale prices. In other words, shoppers now have the most deals to choose from.

2. Don’t Shop too Early or too Late

Careful! Buy too early and you could pay too much. Buy too late and you could pay way too much. The sweet spot for deals is usually found in the following shopping windows:

Domestic U.S. tickets – Shop between 3 months and 30 days before departure.

International tickets – Shop between 5 ½ months and 1 ½ months before departure.

If you’re planning to visit a destination during its high season, try shopping during the opposite season. For example, if you’re headed to Norway for the summer, start shopping for flights during the winter. You may also benefit from utilizing a price tracker such as Hopper, an app that tracks the cost of airline tickets and compares fares. With this tool, you’ll be notified of the best time to book rather than having to manually monitor fares.

3. Cheapest Days to Fly

Save even more by knowing the cheapest days to fly. If you can’t book cheap days for your entire flight, do it for one leg of the trip and you’ll still see some savings.

Cheap days: In the U.S., Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday are usually cheapest. For international travel, weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends.

Expensive days: Fridays and Sundays usually cost more, especially in the U.S.

Cheap times of day: Fly when most people don’t want to, so cheap times include dawn, overnight and flights around the lunch and dinner hour.

(Source: farecompare.com.)