JS 48: How to Save Big On Airfare with Andrea Woroch Consumer Protection & Money-Saving ExpertApril 5th, 2013 by Jason | Comments Off on JS 48: How to Save Big On Airfare with Andrea Woroch Consumer Protection & Money-Saving Expert
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert featured on “Good Morning America,” NBC’s “Today” and “The Dr. OZ Show.” She analyzes the effects that sequestration will have on the Federal Aviation Administration cuts. In turn, these cuts will reshape the ways people travel. She also shares her tips for cheaper and more efficient travel.
Andrea understands how quickly everyday costs add up and that life can get expensive. Her goal is to teach consumers how to live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance and savings advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers.
Andrea has traveled the country as a broadcast and print media source, working with NBC Today Show, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Smart Money, CNNMoney and many more.
With a finger on the pulse of American consumerism, Andrea dissects savings trends for the media, encompassing everything from travel and electronics to groceries and coupons.
When not analyzing consumer behavior, Andrea enjoys skiing, travel, outdoor adventure and shopping for shoes. A New York native, Andrea now splits her time between Colorado and California.
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JASON HARTMAN: It’s my pleasure to welcome Andrea Woroch to the show! She is a nationally recognized consumer and money saving expert. She’s been featured on Good Morning America, NBC’s Today Show, the Dr. Oz Show, and several other media outlets. And today I wanted to talk about her expertise in saving money on travel, and then also we’ll talk about saving money in general, and just how we can all be smarter consumers as well. But first, let’s dive into the travel subject. Andrea, welcome. How are you?
ANDREA WOROCH: I’m good, how are you doing.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, good. Fantastic to have you on the show today. And, you talk about saving money, and just being a better consumer in general. But, since sequestration is in the news nowadays, I just wanted to have you touch on—you know, is there anything that the FAA is doing because of the sequestration issue, that is affecting travelers? Maybe longer lines at TSA, or anything else?
ANDREA WOROCH: Well, I think one of the biggest speculations was that since there were going to be budget cuts that affected the National Air Traffic Control Association—or, excuse me, the Federal Aviation Administration—that meant that there might be fewer employees, so there needs to be less airplanes actually in the air, and less people on the ground to navigate those planes in their landing. So that means fewer flights, more demand, and that could mean an increase in flight costs over time. Yeah, and of course, how things run at the airport, maybe longer lines, you need to get there sooner. So there is a ton of different ways that it is going to affect consumers. But I would say flight prices are the ones that are going to hit you the hardest.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, you know, I can tell you one effect, and I’m not sure this was actually due to sequestration, but I was coming back from Central America recently on a trip, and we landed in—gosh, what was it, Houston or Dallas. I believe it was Dallas. And landed in Dallas, had to go through customs. And having been to 64 countries, many of them many times, and having a lot of experience traveling, that was the longest customs line I ever waited on. They had a whole bunch of booths, but only three of them were open. There were only three customs agents there. And upon complaining about it, they said it was because of the budget cuts. But I don’t know if that’s exactly true or not.
ANDREA WOROCH: Well, that is something that you may experience, unfortunately, with budget cuts means fewer employees. So, and you know they’re not going to really let up on the security, so it just means you have to wait longer.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, really amazing. Let’s talk about some ways that people can reduce the cost of airfare. You have kind of 11 tips, and I don’t know if we should share them all, but just kind of go through them.
ANDREA WOROCH: Yeah, I can combine some of the tips. Yeah. So, the first, when we’re talking about looking for airfare, it really comes down to being flexible. As you probably know as a frequent traveler, the day that you actually fly out, usually mid week is going to offer you much less expensive airfare. So, when you’re planning your vacation, instead of leaving on a Friday night, try to head out on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. You’ll definitely find cheaper airfare that way. And then come back on a Sunday, or come back the following Tuesday or Wednesday. Also, waking up early might get you cheaper airfare. No one wants to get up at 4AM to catch that 6AM flight, but usually those first flights out are going to be the least expensive. And also you’ll find that flights during dinnertime or lunchtime are generally a little bit lower than the other peak travel times of the day.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, I’ve definitely found that. I hate those early flights, they stress me out too much. But you know, when you’re going from the west coast back east, it’s really the only way to go. Because by the time you lose three hours, it’s evening by the time you get there no matter what. What about booking, though? I’ve heard that there are tricks to booking. Like booking on Tuesdays, that’s the best time to buy a ticket online. Is that true?
ANDREA WOROCH: So, according to farecompare.com, they did a ton of surveys and analyses, and they found that booking—that 3PM specifically, Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday afternoons, is your best chance to find the cheapest airfare. Now, I don’t necessarily say you always have to wait for that specific time. I generally find that Tuesday, Wednesday, and sometimes even Thursday, you have that same pool of low-cost flights. So, I recommend shopping and booking during the mid week. Often times what’s happened to me is that I’ll see prices jump over the weekend, and then they’ll go back down afterwards. So, if you’re worried about missing out on a flight, it selling out, or that it’s gonna increase even further, if you book it then you may want to track it on yapta.com, and they will alert you if that specific itinerary that they see that same flight, at the same time and everything, drop in price, then you’ll be able to go back to the airline and request a credit.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, we actually had—I believe it was the founder of Yapta on the show before. And that’s a really interesting website, Yapta. What they do is, if the fare reduces, they’ll get you the difference back. But you know, I can’t imagine, as—because of the way time works, you know, you book on a certain date, and then you move only closer to the flight—doesn’t it really always get more expensive? I mean—
ANDREA WOROCH: Yeah, interestingly not always does that happen. Actually I just booked tickets for my honeymoon coming up this September to South Africa, and it’s what—
JASON HARTMAN: That’s a long flight. I’ve done that one. That is the longest flight on the planet, I think.
ANDREA WOROCH: I’m a little bit scared. But no, when I was researching flights I found pretty reasonable prices, and I was waiting and waiting to get everything confirmed, and booked, and make sure I had the vacation time planned, and whatnot. And the longer I waited, the prices weren’t fluctuating, and then all of a sudden they started creeping up 10, 20, 30 dollars, so I started to worry, and it was a Saturday, and I finally booked it. The flight that I wanted to book through African Airlines was no longer available as the cheapest one available. And then I started to track it on Yapta. Anyway, I booked through United at a higher price, then got an email from Yapta saying that the original flight I wanted was actually reduced. So, you know, it definitely, timing is a non-issue, especially when you’re booking months in advance. I actually find the best time to book is within two months of your actual departure date; that’s when you’ll find the lowest prices. So, sometimes it actually pays to wait to book.
JASON HARTMAN: So, you’re saying, two months advance is the best deal.
ANDREA WOROCH: The real spot with domestic travel would be six weeks, if you’re booking six weeks in advance you’re probably going to find some of the best deals. Any later they may start creeping up. Any earlier and they may not be reduced. But of course, if you start researching prices two to three months before, you’ll have a general idea of what it costs, and then you can track the flights on Yapta, so when it does drop you’ll know to jump on it right away.
JASON HARTMAN: Okay. Good! What else?
ANDREA WOROCH: So, we talk about the best time to buy flights, but when you’re also searching online, the airline industry is one of the most common industries to use something called dynamic pricing, where they track your purchase and browsing histories, and they’ll set and determine different prices based on the information your computer is sending to those analytical tools those websites are using. So what I would recommend is, any time you’re searching for airfare, clear your browsing history, clear your cookies. You can do that from your internet options. And then also, you know, use different IP addresses; one time I was looking on my computer, the prices jumped $50 so I booked through my phone, and used my Verizon data plan, which was a completely different browser, different browsing history, and I was able to book the lower price.
JASON HARTMAN: So, really, I mean, isn’t that kind of crooked? What do you call that? What is the name for that, again? That you said?
ANDREA WOROCH: They call that dynamic pricing.
JASON HARTMAN: But that’s not dynamic pricing; it’s remembering who looked before, and essentially feeding that person a higher fare because they know they need to go! That’s just unbelievable!
ANDREA WOROCH: Right. And also—right, so the longer you’re searching, they see that you’re inevitably interested, and most likely to purchase those tickets. So yeah, it is kind of unfortunate how that pricing strategy works. So just being aware of it though, and again, tracking prices, and clearing your browsing history, will help you find the better deals.
JASON HARTMAN: Alright. And you’ve got a few other tips there. Travel mid-week, you mentioned that…
ANDREA WOROCH: So, traveling mid-week, which we talked about, and also I always recommend searching one-way airfare. Oftentimes, I’m based in California, I fly back to New York for media, and that’s where I’m from, so my family is there, my friends are there, and so I travel back nearly every other month, it seems. And I find that although sometimes round trip deals tend to be really great, I’ve found plenty of better one-way offers. Especially when you’re booking through sites like Travelocity; they’re restricted round trip airfare deals, and sometimes they don’t offer the best times or flight options when you book round trip. So, sometimes I’ll book a one-way through Travelocity, and then other times I’ll look at JetBlue, or Virgin, or Southwest, to see what one-way options they have that may be a better deal. So sometimes that actually gets you a lower cost there.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, right. Okay. And then you also mentioned, don’t check bags unless you’re flying on one of the very few airlines that include that, like Southwest. You’re right. But I find Southwest fares to be frankly higher. I do like Southwest as an airline. I just find that the whole attitude on the plane is better. Of the staff. But, their prices are high! It’s just funny, Andrea, how a brand can be built on the idea of a low price, and ultimately, they’re not low at all! I mean, you can disagree with me if you want, but you can just get a better on Hotwire most of the time, I find!
ANDREA WOROCH: Yeah, you know, it all depends about researching and looking out for those deals. I have found that Southwest in some different trips, like when I recently went from LAX to Denver, that we had a 30% off discount, so it was incredibly cheap, and we were going skiing, so we had two bags each. And they were oversized bags, and they did not charge for either of those bags. So, had we been going on a different airline, that even if they had cost the same, the fare, we would have ended up paying $50 extra each just to check our bags. Or more, because it was an oversized bag. So it all depends on how many bags you’re checking, and where you’re going. So, sometimes they’re cheaper—and you’re right, sometimes you might find a better deal on United or American or Delta. So, it all comes down to researching and comparing deals. And that’s why I love using sites like Kayak.com, which help to compare the offers somewhat instantly, it takes a lot of the leg work out of the way from website to website. But, when I do find a flight that I like, I’ll go directly to the airline’s website to see if they have it available for the same price. This way if I do make any changes, or cancellations or whatnot, there’s a lot less hassle than going through a third party website.
JASON HARTMAN: And, what website do you actually use most of the time to buy your tickets?
ANDREA WOROCH: You know, because I spend so much time comparing prices, and looking at flights, it all depends on where I find it. I do use Southwest a lot, for various short trips. I also have recently received a United Mileage Explorer credit card from Chase. So, I’m using United more now, because I get double points for purchases made through the United website, plus I’ll earn all the miles for the airfare, and I get a free checked bag, plus other perks through the card. So, when it comes to looking for an airline-specific credit card, there are some good deals to be had.
JASON HARTMAN: We’ll be back in just a minute.
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JASON HARTMAN: This is all so hard to keep track of, that I begin to wonder about the law of diminishing return, as to whether it’s worth the time to spend on this. Especially if someone is self-employed; they can probably make more money in their business than they can save 80 or 150 bucks on an airfare now. if it’s an international trip, that may well be another matter, because the prices do vary a lot more when you get into a bigger ticket trip. But the other thing I want to ask you is, what about flying business and first class? And flying open jaw? Now, open jaw just means you fly into one city, you maybe visit some other cities, and fly out of another city. This is commonly done on European and South American trips. They’re very handy, because why go back to the city in which you started if you want to tour around? So, I think, two of the big challenges that travelers have, Andrea, is if they want to fly business or first class, where is the best place to do that, in terms of which website, and how to do it, and how to get a deal, because those prices are so much higher, it’s just—sometimes I just think, look, you know, I can afford it, but I just don’t want the hassle, it’s just not worth it! And then the open jaw problem. When you want to do a European tour, that gets really complex!
ANDREA WOROCH: Right. So, you’re right. I mean, it takes a lot of planning to decide where you’re flying in, and where you’re flying out, and you want to make sure that your schedule—that your schedule really stays that way. And I know that when I was traveling—perhaps I wanted to go visit another city, but I really couldn’t get off my timeline and my route, because I was departing and heading back from a certain location. However, in those circumstances, I find that usually booking a multi-city destination round trip ticket is gonna get you the best price. When you’re flying international, and you book a one-way ticket, it always seems the price costs just the same as a round trip airfare. So if you book two one-ways, you’re gonna pay double the price. So I always say to book the multi-destination. And yeah, it would take some planning ahead of time to make sure that you know which route you’re gonna be going. So, for instance, I’m going to South Africa. I’m flying into Cape Town, and heading out of Johannesburg. The great part about it is that it’s actually cheaper to do that, because the flight I was taking was connecting through Johannesburg in the first instance. So, I kind of removed the extra mileage by flying out of Johannesburg and backtracking, and so that saved a little bit off the total airfare.
JASON HARTMAN: And do you have a website that you like for open jaw? I mean multi-city travel.
ANDREA WOROCH: I always—you know, and I don’t know if other people would agree with me, but I always recommend using sites like Travelocity. It does help to get a baseline idea of all the airfare options and airlines. But I also find that they don’t list every single airline that is operating to those countries and cities from the US. So, perhaps just doing a little bit of research regarding which airlines travel to and from the city that you are gonna be departing from. And then also, compare airports around you; perhaps there’s an international—two international airports that you could choose from. Perhaps there’s one that’s a little bit closer, maybe only 30 minutes of a drive. Maybe there’s another one that’s an hour and a half or two hours that you could get a bus, or have a friend drop you off, that gets you a better deal. So, definitely compare airports as well.
JASON HARTMAN: And, any thoughts on the business class or first class question?
ANDREA WOROCH: Well, the interesting part with first class is that sometimes you can actually find a better deal on last minute first class trips than business class, because those first class seats, if they don’t fill them up, they do want to still sell them. Now, it’s kind of hard to determine what is first class when you’re shopping online through sites like Travelocity and whatnot. But if you call the airlines directly, or book through the airline websites directly, you can see what type of last minute offers they may have available. And also, when you’re flying first class, usually—or, excuse me—business class, you’ll notice that the prices peak for business class on Mondays and Fridays. That’s the busy time for business travelers, because most people who are away for work don’t care how much the company is going to spend them back on Friday, because they want to be home with their family and friends. So, traveling back on a Saturday or Sunday, via business class, may get you better deals.
JASON HARTMAN: Right. And any particular website for business or first class, or just that advice regardless of the website you use?
ANDREA WOROCH: Right, yeah, I don’t have any specific websites I use for those physically. But I kind of compare with Kayak and Travelocity or Orbitz, to see what the baseline offers are, and then I go back and compare with the airlines themselves. So it is a little bit of legwork to research. But sometimes it’s worth your time to save a bundle.
JASON HARTMAN: Sure, sure. last thing I wanted to ask you, Andrea, is if you’ve heard of a website called Flightfox. I found this to be a pretty interesting business model. I tried to use it a couple times, just didn’t quite get a trip together on it, but, are you familiar with Flightfox?
ANDREA WOROCH: No, I haven’t about it. What is it?
JASON HARTMAN: Oh, you’ll like it. I’m giving you a tip [LAUGHTER]. It’s a pretty neat business model.
ANDREA WOROCH: I’m looking it up right now.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, you’ll like it. What it is, is basically a website where you can go and you can list where you want to go, and usually it’s better for maybe more complex international travel, open jaw, multi-city type stuff, and maybe business and first class too. And what you do is you list all of your goals there, your travel goals, and then you pay a certain amount of money—maybe like $25, or $45, or $65, and people from all around the world who are, not necessarily probably most of the time not travel agents, just regular people, that want to make a few bucks, working out of their homes—you’re sort of crowdsourcing the best deal, and they will look up, and they will spend all the time surfing the different websites and finding the best deal, and you only award the money to one winner, the trip that you ultimately pick. Kind of one of the tricks about it though is you’ve gotta book is right away, because it’s always changing so fast.
ANDREA WOROCH: Right. So whoever—whichever flight you book, you essentially are then paying for that person’s service? That $25 or whatever? That is so incredibly interesting.
JASON HARTMAN: It’s a very innovative model, yeah.
ANDREA WOROCH: Yes. We’re seeing different websites like this popping up, and not specifically travel. I think this is pretty unique. But there’s a website that reminds me of this, called TaskRabbit.com, where people post various odd jobs they need help with. Yeah. And so, you can—if you need to make a couple extra bucks to help cover your Internet or cable bill or maybe some groceries, you can help some go grocery shopping, put together IKEA furniture, help with an event—there’s tons of those odd jobs available. So it’s interesting how through social media and these websites people are offering new ways to make some extra cash on the side, and making their life a little bit easier.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, the whole concept of crowdsourcing, it’s a pretty neat world we live in. Andrea, give out your website, if you would.
ANDREA WOROCH: Sure. Visit me at andreaworoch.com, which is A-N-D-R-E-A-W-O-R-O-C-H.com; I post various tips there, and have all my recent media interviews, where I’m sharing very helpful shopping and personal finance advice.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. And, just before you go, can you give us a couple of general consumer and shopping tips? Just any quick tips that, you know, kind of like your hottest tips that you have, just a couple of those real quick before you go. Just in general, not about travel.
ANDREA WOROCH: Yes, of course. So one of the first things I’m gonna talk about is when you’re getting your tax refund this spring, don’t blow it on a shopping trip or an unnecessary expensive dinner out just to celebrate your newfound fortune. I really recommend that everybody have an emergency savings account, so whether you’ve started one but haven’t been contributing to it, or you have no money put aside, you want to aim to have xix to nine months of living expenses saved up for those unpredictable instances like a car accident, or maybe an expensive home repair issue, maybe a medical emergency, or even job loss. And having that money set aside will keep you financially healthy, keep you and your family at peace of mind knowing that you have something to protect you. Then when it comes to shopping, I always recommend using coupons. These days retailers offer coupons for everything. You can find coupons for the grocery store on your cell phone using Coupon Sherpa mobile app; you can also find coupons for retailers through that app, for stores like Macy’s, or Dick’s Sporting Goods, and that app can save you anywhere from 10-20% on a shopping trip. So, you know, spending just one minute looking for a discount can help you save a lot. And then I always suggest shopping with a list, and shopping less frequently. Because we all make impulse purchases, and that can really eat into our budget. In fact, the grocery store, I recently read reports that they make 50% of their profit on people’s impulse purchases. So keep that in mind the next time you’re throwing in unnecessary items that aren’t on your shopping list, and you will definitely be able to save a lot of money over time.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. Well good. Well, thanks for joining us today, and folks, happy shopping, save yourself some money. As Ben Franklin said, a penny saved, is a penny earned. And it’s very true. The only thing I want to say about it is, don’t become too compulsive and obsessive about this that it takes away time from what’s really important in life, or business, you know. Maybe you can make more rather than searching around for deals. But to do it and be smart, and not overpay—it’s just prudent. It just makes sense. So, Andrea, thank you for sharing some of these great tips today.
ANDREA WOROCH: Exactly. Thank you so much for having me.
ANNOUNCER: This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company. All rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.HartmanMedia.com, or email [email protected] Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate, or business professional for any individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own, and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network, Inc. exclusively.