Guest Article by Peter “Zoap” Dill

Hi everyone, as we approach the tail end of 2015 there are still a good number of majors, Paragon and The Big House 5 being the closest, that many will be flying to. I’ve been asked to give a brief guide on how to book cheap flights and when is the best time to do so.

I’ve broken my process into several steps below with notes in each section.

Timing and Pricing

  • First let’s talk about the timing and pricing. When booking a flight there is a certain degree of “right place, right time”. Prices fluctuate daily and it’s often hard to predict. However with using price alerts and following the below you can optimize and minimize missing the best prices:
  • Prices tend to be lowest 6-8 weeks before the date of travel (this means if you’re going to The Big House 5, right now is the time to be booking your flight if you haven’t already).
  • Sales tend to happen near holidays, Southwest announces their weekly deals on Tuesday.
  • Price Alerts can be set to email you every day or even every time a certain search drops in price.
  • Finding a cheap flight means nothing if you have to pay baggage fees. Before booking check the airlines policies regarding bags. Some airlines *cough* Spirit *cough* charge an exuberant amount for bags.
  • Know your layovers and stops. Do you think it’s smarter to fly in the middle of winter through Minneapolis, or Phoenix? Doing a little bit of forward thinking can prevent you from getting stuck and missing out on a tournament you just spent hundreds to attend.

Helpful Resources


Now let’s go over some of the resources available that make your life easier. You have plethora of sites that will search multiple airline simultaneously as well as allowing you to put up price alerts. Below are the 4 sites I use and the steps I take with each:

    • Kayak ( I start on Kayak and do a simple search with the airports in my area and the airports provided. Kayak also allows you to put a price alert on any search with notifications available daily.
    • Skiplagged ( My second step is to visit skip lagged. Skip lagged searches like Kayak with airports provided however it also is searching flights that have layovers in your destination with cheaper prices. I was able to book my going flight from San Francisco to Detroit for TBH5 for $112 simply because I chose a flight that was going to Dallas with a layover in Detroit.
    • Southwest ( Southwest is a great place to start even before the other two sites mentioned. You get low fares, 2 free checked bags and get to pick your seat. I will always check Southwest for flights as they are often the same or lower, and even if you have to cancel your flight you don’t lose the money (they will credit you for another future flight for the amount of the ticket purchased).
    • Priceline ( Priceline is a great site to use and is very similar to Kayak, but it is known more for the “Name your price” than its ability to compare standard prices. Name your price allows you to get highly discounted flights with a few catches. First you are not booked into a set time for your flight, you simply pick a day, your price, and airports. Then if accepted they email you what flight you ended up on. Additionally you can have up to one 2 hour layover. If you’re okay with these minor inconveniences you can save a ton of money (10-40%).

Using the above sites I found the following in roughly 5 minutes of searching for each area:

West Coast flights to The Big House 5:

Region Day Leaving 9/30 Wednesday Day Leaving 10/1 Thursday
Washington- Seattle to Detroit $261 R/T $286 R/T
Norcal- SFO to Detroit $314 R/T (115 one way) $340 R/T
Socal- LAX to Detroit $274 R/T (111 one way) $301 R/T (290 w/Southwest return)
Arizona- Phoenix to Detroit $232 R/T (return trip is 131) $280 R/T


Midwest flights to The Big House 5:

Region Day Leaving 9/30 Wednesday Day Leaving 10/1 Thursday
Denver to Detroit $157 R/T $157 R/T
Dallas to Detroit $106 R/T $106 R/T
Chicago to Detroit $180 R/T $180 R/T


East Coast and South flights to The Big House 5:

Region Day Leaving 9/30 Wednesday Day Leaving 10/1 Thursday
New York to Detroit $101 R/T $101 R/T
Boston to Detroit $156 R/T $156 R/T
Baltimore to Detroit $182 R/T $182 R/T
Philadelphia to Detroit $143 R/T $143 R/T
Atlanta to Detroit $164 R/T $164 R/T
Orlando to Detroit $188 R/T $188 R/T


Happy flying! Or as Fox would say, Mission Complete.