While researching how to find cheap flights for my upcoming South America trip, I discovered Flightfox, a website that pairs you with a “flight expert” who will find you the cheapest flights possible for your trip. I was intrigued! So I decided to try it out and write a Flightfox review.
The website’s concept is simple, yet genius. Basically you
- Submit details on your desired flight itinerary.
- Get matched with a flight expert who will find you the cheapest price for that itinerary.
- Book your flights.
My Itinerary and Goals
At only $69, I decided to give Flightfox a try. I also really wanted to be helpful and give my readers a review of the service (the things I do for you guys!). My fee was $69 because my itinerary involved two people going on a trip to two destinations (Cuzco, Peru and Buenos Aires, Argentina).
My Itinerary: U.S. -> Cuzco, Peru (CUZ) -> Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE) -> U.S.
My Budget: $1400 – $1600
The cheapest flight I could find for my U.S. – CUZ – EZE – U.S. trip was around $1775. Way, way above my price range.
Could my flight expert beat my price? Let’s find out!
The timeline of my first Flightfox experience:
— March 7 at 5 p.m. —
I go to Flightfox.com and enter this itinerary description:
My mom and I are departing to go to Cusco, Peru and then Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The dates we are free to fly are ____ to ____. Within that date range, we are pretty flexible. I would prefer to split my time evenly between Cusco and Buenos Aires.
Restriction: We must be in Cusco between ____ through _____. Other than that, we are flexible.
Ideally, the trip would be no fewer than 17 nights, but no greater than 22 nights.
I submit the itinerary–but to complete the transaction, I have to pay up: $69. I decide to sleep on it and think about it before paying.
— March 7 at 11:05 p.m. —
To my surprise, I get an email from Matt, a flight expert for Flightfox. In a clever (and effective!) sales move, he asks me to complete my transaction and tells me he’s found my itinerary for $1450!
All right–he’s got my attention! I still decide to sleep on it and wait.
— March 8 at 7:07 p.m. —
I finally bite the bullet and enter my credit card information to pay the $69 fee to start working with Matt. I then decide to give him some encouragement: “If you can find me the U.S.-CUZ-EZE-U.S. flight with good connections in the $1400 range, you will be my HERO!”
— March 8 at 7:23 p.m. —
I get a message from Matt: “You got it, Amy –I’ll get working on it in a few hours for you.”
I then imagine my flight expert/superhero throwing his cape over his shoulder and flying off to find me the best deal.
— March 8 at 11:30 p.m. —
I sit at my computer anxiously awaiting word from Matt. Then I start to wonder…who IS Matt?? Besides his brief bio, I don’t know anything about him. I also have no idea where he’s located, so I don’t know if he’s even awake at this time.
— March 9 at 2 a.m. —
STILL nothing from Matt. I start to wonder if he’s forgotten about me. After all we’ve been through together!
— March 9 at 7:31 a.m. —
I get an email from Flightfox alerting me of a message from Matt. He’s found two itineraries for me! Itinerary #1 is $1581. Itinerary #2 is $1573. My heart sinks. What happened to the $1450 price? Well, flight prices fluctuate rapidly, and I had waited too long.
I go back to my usual search engines: Kayak, Orbitz, CheapTickets, etc. I can’t find anything anywhere near what he’s proposing. In fact, the cheapest itinerary I can find now is $1994!
— March 9 at 9:38 a.m. —
I’m not really sure how much I’m allowed to do at this point, and I’ve got no direction from Matt. I decide to press on and ask him to try different departure dates. See our exchange below. (Read from top to bottom.)
— March 9 at 3:30 p.m. —
It seems I’ve got no better options, and I’m really anxious to get these tickets booked. I go ahead and ask Matt how to go about booking the cheap itinerary he found. Again, I have no idea what’s supposed to happen next, and Flightfox doesn’t exactly direct you to the next step. Thankfully, Matt sends me very detailed booking instructions, and I’m able to book the flights myself (on two different sites: Priceline and CheapOair) without any problems.
Fun with My Flight Expert
Now that the stress of booking flights is out of the way, I feel much more relaxed. My curiosity over this mysterious “Matt” guy is growing. I’m not sure this is allowed, but I decide to ask him about himself:
I then attempt to practice my limited Spanish with him:
My Flightfox Review
Would I use it again?
YES! It was actually really fun to interact with my flight expert; every time I got a message was kind of like opening a present on Christmas morning. The anticipation of getting an even better deal than you can find alone is thrilling.
Plus, it saved me $400! Sure, Matt didn’t end up getting the $1450 price he had originally quoted me, but that was my fault. Flight prices change quickly, and I waited a whole day before I decided to go with Flightfox. In the end, Matt helped me pay $1573–when I would have paid $1994 without him! Awesome deal, right?
Sleek user interface. Money-back guarantee. Really does find the cheapest possible price (at least it did for me!). Saves time. Fun to use.
Customer service can be a little slow, as Flightfox isn’t yet big enough to have a 24/7 call center. (But have you ever actually tried calling those 24-hour customer service lines?? I usually end up waiting 30 minutes and getting transferred 3 times. (I’m lookin’ at you, Orbitz!)). I also thought the instructions weren’t very clear. I didn’t really know what I supposed to do next, so I was kind of fumbling around sometimes.
Who should use Flightfox?
I highly recommend Flightfox to anyone with complicated, mult-city itineraries. I literally spent hours upon hours over the course of two weeks trying to figure out my South America flight itinerary. Had I just used Flightfox from the start, I would have saved so much time. That $69 was well spent. Plus, if you end up finding a cheaper price than what your flight expert finds, you’ll get your money back.
So how did my Flightfox expert find a price $400 cheaper than what I could find?
No, there’s no magic involved. Flightfox’s flight experts are masters at what’s known in the travel community as “flight hacking,” which basically means using clever tactics to get the lowest price possible. When Matt sent me the details on how to book my trip, it revealed (at least partially) how he did it. He used Hipmunk to search all the flight search engines for the lowest price. He also tried out different combinations of flights to see how he could get the price to be the lowest. For my trip, Matt had me book my U.S. to LIM (Lima connection to Cuzco) to CUZ to LIM flight on Priceline. Then, he had me book my LIM to EZE to LIM to U.S. flight on CheapOair. Two separate bookings, but they fit together like puzzle pieces to form my perfect itinerary.
It’s all about booking different legs of the trip on different search engines and via different airlines. By mixing and matching and piecing together an itinerary, you can get prices MUCH cheaper than you would had it been all on one ticket. Is it more complicated? A bit. It also means that if you miss a connecting flight, and that flight is on a different airline than the delayed one that you just got off of, the connecting airline has NO obligation to book you a next flight out for free. This is the disadvantage of not booking one ticket through one airline–but I think it’s worth the risk.