Finding deals on flights, first up is Hong Kong


I was flying HKG to TPE for a year not too long ago. I was working for a Taiwanese boss that had an office in Shenzhen (Chinese city just north of Hong Kong) and we were given a 10,000NT allowance for round trip tickets for HKG -> TPE.

The most expensive ticket was Cathay Pacific at 8800NT in late December. The cheapest ticket was also Cathay Pacific at 5000ish in early spring. In between, I did book Hong Kong Airlines or was it Dragon Air? (for around 5000-6000NT) and that was a huge mistake. I was stuck at the airport for 8 hours waiting for a 2 hour flight. A lot of my friends that were commuting ran into the same problem with both airlines.

Just book with Cathay. What’s great is…if you miss your flight. There’s a very high possibility you can get on the next one (and it’s only a 1.5 hour wait) at no extra cost. Only time I’ve possibly had to sleep at the airport was trying to catch the last flight of the day out of HKG.


In many ways airlines run their businesses like it is 1975 and the internet never happened. Fares are still distributed based on the idea of geographic markets (e.g. “the Taiwan market”) and travel agencies can sometimes take advantage of special fares offered only in certain markets by certain carriers. An agency has to be registered with IATA in a certain market (e.g. Taiwan) to take advantage of Taiwan fares. There are high barriers to entry: you cannot just set up a travel agency in Taiwan or anywhere else overnight. It’s a multi-year, heavily regulated process. This is why you can (sometimes) get lower fares by walking into a brick & mortar travel agency in Japan or Taiwan for a flight originating in Japan or Taiwan.

Increasingly, these fares are also picked up by “metasearch” sites like Google Flights or Skyscanner, which are not actually travel agencies, but rather lightweight price scrapers that will just link you through to whatever fare they found either at an actual online travel agency, or with a carrier directly.

The reason why you can sometimes get those special local market fares from a Google Flights or a Skyscanner these days is because metasearch is getting better every year at shopping everything: every international point-of-sale of the major OTAs, direct with every carrier, the ghetto online storefront of a local brick & mortar agency, etc. etc.

Personally I use Google Flights almost exclusively these days, although the best fare I ever bought was $350 round trip Taiwan > East Coast USA over Christmas, through a US bank’s travel booking site. And my dad found that one, which is pretty funny since I’ve been working in the industry for years. Just goes to show the randomness of it all.




If I saw that price, I would just book as many flights as possible in the future. Even if I missed one or had to cancel it, would still come out ahead.


For those who are flexible and not just interested in flying out to Hong Kong, it may be worthwhile to follow on Facebook. Going back to Europe for the holiday and I found a very sweet deal through that site!


Thanks every one for the information, experiences, and insights! There is some good info here and more sources to use when searching for a ticket.
Kudos to @ranlee and @okonomiyaki for taking the time to provide good detailed info.