How I Got A $600 Flight To Peru For $175
Note, this isn't a travel hack in the sense that anyone who follows these steps will get the same deal, but this is how I went about it and you could potentially too!
I have a problem and it's called wanderlust. If you read this blog or know me, you'll obviously realize this. Ever since I heard that sometimes airlines will graciously offer you a voucher if you volunteer your seat on an overbooked flight, I've been patiently waiting until it would happen to me. Yes, I know it's a weird thing to want, but I'm an easygoing person, so waiting some extra hours in an airport isn't torture to me. In fact, I love airports! I love people-watching, using the free wi-fi and watching the planes take off (even though I hate being inside a plane when it's taking off or landing... When will I get over this fear?).
On my way back from my weekend in Colorado, I spent 24 hours in either an airplane or an airport. This was mostly the airline's fault, but partly my own. I got to the airport quite early at 8pm for my 11:45pm flight, which ended up being delayed until after 1am in the morning. After finally flying to my layover city of Ft. Lauderdale in Florida, the flight was so late that I missed my connecting flight back to New York. This wasn't the end of the world, since they had another flight going out at 11am. They booked me onto that one, gave me some meal vouchers and then I waited.
The 11am flight was looming closer and I went over to the gate to wait. Of course, to my luck, the plane was yet again super delayed and around noon, they announced why. The plane had some malfunctions, so they needed to switch to a different plane; a plane with 40 less seats. This is when they asked for 40 people to volunteer their seat to get on the 4pm flight and receive a round trip flight voucher to make up for it. The tired, crazy traveler in me immediately ran to the line.
I wanted that free flight.
They booked me onto the next flight, I waited another 4 hours and then finally boarded a flight home, completely missed work (but I at least could work from the airport which had surprisingly quick wi-fi), and arrived back in New York an entire 24 hours later after having arrived at the Denver airport. Since I have a chill personality, this totally didn't bother me to do this and I was super happy to be able to use my voucher.
Yesterday, after settling back into home, I researched the Spirit Airlines flight network and decided to use my ticket to get to the furthest away location that they offer so I could fully take advantage making up for the hours I spent wasting away in Florida. Spirit only really flies within the USA, Central America, the Caribbean and the Northern part of South America. Since I already booked an amazing flight deal with them for Costa Rica, I thought I should go a bit further South and try out Peru, which is their most expensive location to get to.
I knew in advance that the "free" flight just covered the base fare and I would have to pay all fees, but knew that would only be a fraction of the price. I called their customer service, told them the dates I wanted and after unfortunately having to pay an extra $15 for using a travel agent (you can't book the voucher online, so that's where they get you) I ended up only paying $178 for what could've cost me $576.
A $398 discount was more than appreciated by me.
So that's my story. I will be traveling around Peru in May for 10 days and I can't wait. I probably never would've gone there next year had I not gotten this deal, so I am beyond excited to finally get to a new continent. This will be number 4, which means I'll have been to more than half and only have yet to cross Asia, Oceania and Antartica off my list (you better believe I'll get to Antartica sometime in my life). There's no credit milage or super travel hack secret to this other than finally getting a chance to volunteer my seat. I suggest any budget traveler try this trick, as it will definitely work in your favor towards heading somewhere else in the world.
The moral of the story is, flexibility pays off.
A fun anecdote: At the Ft. Lauderdale airport, I ate breakfast at a cafe and the nice, old waiter told me to have a nice day and he hopes I will eat there again. In my mind I was like, "Um, hell no. I'm never coming back to Florida, especially to this airport." Later, upon reflection, I realized that I'll actually be back there four more times next year at least since all my layovers for Costa Rica and Peru will be at Ft. Lauderdale. Well, I guess I may see you again, sir.