How to Beat Airline Price Gouging When Booking International Flights

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The author, Joseph Hostetler.

Joseph Hostetler/Insider



  • International travel from small- to medium-sized airports is often very expensive.
  • Flights that originate in large hubs are often many hundreds of dollars cheaper to the same destinations.
  • You can save lots of money by booking your international travel from a nearby hub — and a separate flight from your home airport to that hub.
  • Read Insider’s guide to the best travel rewards credit cards.

If you purchase an international flight from your home airport, I can almost guarantee you’re overpaying.

This is especially true for those who fly from smaller airports that aren’t considered major hubs. International flights from less busy airports can cost a fortune — sometimes double the price of what you’d be charged if your home airport was a major international gateway.

I use this information to save an incredible amount of money when flying to Europe, Africa, and Asia. You can do it, too. It’s one of the most straightforward ways to put money in your pocket instead of the airline’s, and it’s a critical scheme for your international summer travel.

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Book flights from a nearby hub airport instead of your home airport

To keep things simple, I’m defining a hub airport as one with nonstop flights to more than 100 destinations. Airports like Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK) are good examples — and airports like these are where you’ll find amazing deals.

When you’re looking for a cheap flight to an international destination, search from hub airports near you instead of your home airport. You can then either fly or drive to the hub airport — and still save tons of money.

As an example, a flight from Pittsburgh (a medium-sized airport) to Amsterdam costs $1,451 in mid-July.

Summer airfare between Pittsburgh and Amsterdam

Google Flights



However, a flight from Philadelphia (a large hub) to Amsterdam on the exact same dates costs just $766. That’s almost half the price — and from an airport that’s just a few hundred miles from Pittsburgh.

Someone living in Pittsburgh could pay a couple hundred bucks for a quick round-trip flight to Philadelphia and still save over $400 on a ticket to Amsterdam. Or, they could even skip the extra flights and drive the handful of hours it takes to reach Philadelphia from Pittsburgh.

Summer airfare between Philadelphia and Amsterdam

Google Flights



This method really becomes a game changer for friends and family traveling together. Multiply these savings by three or four, and you’re suddenly saving potentially thousands.

Arrive for your international leg with plenty of time

So you’ve found a smoking hot deal to your international destination from a nearby hub. Now it’s time to book a flight from your home airport to catch that international flight.

During your planning, remember these two very important details:

  1. Because you’ve booked two different itineraries, you’ll have to exit the secure gate area to retrieve and re-check any baggage (if you’ve only got a carry-on, this is a nonissue).
  2. Your flights are on different itineraries. If you miss your international flight because something goes awry with the flight before it, you don’t have any recourse.

Still, it’s always wise to use one of the best credit cards for travel insurance when making your plans. You’ll be covered for things like baggage delays, trip cancellation and interruption, and more. The undisputed king of travel insurance is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which offers higher payouts and activates faster than nearly any other travel rewards credit card in existence.

The card also comes with other great travel-related perks, such as up to $300 in annual travel credits (which can be used to offset airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more), Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, and up to $100 in statement credits to offset Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS application fees.

What to know about booking international travel from hubs

If you’re willing to add a slight inconvenience to your travels, you can find enormous discounts on flights to popular destinations just about anywhere in the world. Simply look for flights from international hubs near you — or ones that you can fly to for cheap.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

4.4/5

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 5x points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

4.4/5

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 5x points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.


Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Details


Rewards

Earn 5x points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent

Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.

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Regular Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

22.24% – 29.24% Variable

Editor’s Rating

4.4/5

Our editor’s ratings analyze fees, bonuses, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest and most valuable credit cards available.

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