For those of you who have attended my lectures, classes or public events in the last few years you may recognize a term I coined; The Hopper Flight Scenario. I believe this method of researching your airfare may be the most important part of planning a trip and will yield the highest savings of any one thing you can do. I don’t believe I invented the process because professional travelers like myself have been using these methods for years; but as far as I know, no one has packaged it into a process which anyone can follow.
Lets start where 99% of people begin; airfare. Just after your voice box utters the phrase “lets go to… ” ” then the wheels begin to spin on where to get the best price for a ticket to get to ” ” Most of us go immediately to the internet to websites like Orbitz, Expedia or a favorite airline site such as Delta, American or British Air. We begin the random placement of dates, departure times, cities and such, and continue to spin the roulette wheel of entries until a price, departure time and date seems to be what we are looking for. Many people “site hop” to cross compare trying to beat the last site they visited lowest price. Others go to their trusty travel agent who will do exactly the same process with slightly different search tools and may or may not come back with a lower price. All in all the airfare search process is a game that most of us hate to play. The majority of these searches produce a combination of airlines, connection cities and layover times to get the price low. Many travelers just use their favorite airline to get frequent flyer miles but may pay more for the few miles they gain and can never, ever redeem when they want, due to blackout dates or random policy changes.
The Hopper Flight Scenario applies to Europe, but can be applied to regional airlines in the US as well. For this example, let’s say you want to go to Rome from Seattle. The first step in the process feels a little out of whack but will make sense later. Go to your favorite source for air, no matter if it’s the airline website, mega travel site or local travel agent and ask for the price for round trip from your city, in this case Seattle to one of four destinations in Europe; London, Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris. From those locations pick exactly what you want in departure times, travel time, layovers and connection city; get it the way you want it. Pay attention and keep the overall cost as low as possible but keep the details of the trip as close to ideal for you as possible.
The second part of the puzzle involves the use of one of the most successful concepts known to travel today; the low cost carrier. For some reason Europe knows how to …