Update 2023: It looks like FlyLine has shifted their business strategy from aiming at consumers to developers now. So I've removed the links to their consumer site which is no longer online, but left this article online for reference. If you want to see their developer offering, check out flyline.io.
I’ll get to the point of talking about FlyLine, an interesting new service offering discounted flights.
But first, let’s do a magic trick. I’m going to say a question and you think about what is the first thing that comes to your mind. Ready?
“What’s stopping you from taking a vacation to Tahiti?”
Chances are the first word in your mind is “money”, or lack thereof. Money for flights and money for accommodation. Maybe you’re a workaholic (or American), and you thought about how would you manage to get time off. I doubt you thought, “oh, I can’t stand the sunshine, tropical beaches or sipping cocktails in a hammock”. If you did, email me, we need to talk.
I’ll lay it out right now. I want to help you.
I can’t give you a big wad of cash for a vacation (although I’d love to).
But I can share insight I’ve gathered that will be just like plonking a fat pile of $20 bills on the table.
I have a very simple motivation... to help you live a better life. Maybe that means taking a relaxing trip somewhere warm, looking after yourself. Or spending quality time with the people that matter to you most, creating awesome memories.
I’ve found a new way to make that happen and wanted to share it with you. It’s all about making flying more achievable, while saving time and your sanity. Keep on reading.
Before we get to the goodies, I have to mention some technical stuff here, otherwise you’ll end up with questions later. You may not really care about some of this, but that’s also the reason why you can’t afford to go on a vacation. Crank up the care factor, darling.
Here’s a few terms to understand:
GDS – the system by which wholesale travel is offered by airlines (as well as hotels and car rental agencies), and purchased by Online Travel Agents (OTAs) like Expedia and regular fleshy human travel agents (I think they still exist). They add their mark-up on top and then sell it to you, the consumer. The 3 biggest GDS players are Amadeus, SABRE, and Travelport.
Interlining agreements – the most basic kind of commercial agreement between two airlines, where multiple airlines handle the transfer of passengers on flight connections (which often gets expensive for the airlines), allowing the passenger to check their bag all the way through to the destination. It also handles the situation for re-booking a delayed flight.
Codesharing – the next level of cooperation between two airlines – they sell the same flight with a different flight number. This creates more business for each airline and increases the number of routes passengers have access to.
Airline alliances – loose industry arrangements between groups of airlines to enable reciprocal benefits: shared marketing, sharing overheads, and lowering operational costs. Many members do codesharing (although it’s not a requirement). The 3 biggest alliances are Star Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld.
Dynamic pricing –airlines change their prices regularly depending on supply and demand mechanisms and historical data. If a plane starts filling up quickly, they’ll jack up the price, and if it’s too empty, will lower the price. Typically, the price will change an average of 62 times. I mentioned on a previous article, the sweet spot to get the lowest price is 47-90 days before departure.
Ok, that’s all out of the way. Now to the fun bit.
How does FlyLine work?
Back to FlyLine. This is a new subscription-based service to give you access to GDS wholesale rates for flights. While this is ideal for frequent travellers, even if you only go on one or two big trips per year, it can still pay itself off several times over.
Pffft, you’re thinking you don’t pay anything to use Skyscanner or Kayak. Why should I pay for FlyLine now? Well, you really are paying your existing OTA, but they just hide it in their final price. Sneaky bastards.
FlyLine are on the cutting edge of the travel industry, offering virtual interlining. Rather than being limited by airlines who may (or may not) have agreements to handle connecting flights, FlyLine bypass that and unlock flight combos that will get you to your destination faster and cheaper. If you miss your connection due to a flight delay, you’ll still be covered and re-booked for free.
FlyLine offer a clean interface for flight searches, or you can sit back and wait for the best deals to come to you via email. Upon signing up, your physical address will be used to determine your home airport, or you can add preferred destinations (such as Venice, Italy) under your profile.
The combination of the above 3 features creates a perfect storm for cheap flights.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Cheaper prices… sometimes
I’ll give it to you straight. FlyLine is cheaper most of the time, but not all the time. International economy savings average $150 per ticket compared to Kayak (more examples of savings later). Typically, you’ll make your membership money back, plus more, on just 1 international flight booking.
Flights from low-cost carriers (LCCs) are already at wholesale levels, so you won’t save there. However, virtual interlining means LCCs can get paired with other airlines on a multi-leg route to uncover a cheaper rate overall.
Domestic routes typically work out cheaper only 40% of the time because there are more direct flights. So, it all depends where you’re going.
Best deals via email – target airport & further abroad
I like it when someone else does the hard work for me. FlyLine sends the best deals for your home airport a bit like other discount flight email newsletters (Scott’s Cheap Flights, Matt’s Flights, Dollar Flight Club), however, they mix in a few trending deals to give a healthy dose of inspiration.
Give the middle finger to infuriating airlines who treat you like a disease because you’re connecting flight is with a competitor or outside their airline alliance. FlyLine’s GDS guarantee covers baggage transfers and missed flights. Once you make a booking a dedicated support phone number is provided.
Once you’ve found the perfect flight, completing the booking is super easy. No need to get redirected to another site. That’s sooooo 2019 (cough, cough, Skyscanner).
Automatic flight check-in
I can’t believe this is a thing now! I wish I had this 8 years ago. Save your precious time looking for booking details just a couple days before your flight (when you’re running around like a headless chook), and let FlyLine take care of the check-in.
Checked bag and carry-on options during checkout
Unlike other OTAs, you can book your luggage at the same time as your flight. Why haven’t all OTAs been doing this? I feel like I’m stepping out of the dark ages into 2020. Thank you, FlyLine.
Fast, simple and secure. No frustrating up-sell attempts (ahem, Ryanair), and no legalese. What else could you want?
Filter flights with a single carrier, legacy airlines or low-cost airlines.
Perhaps you feel like just taking 1 airline all the way through and don’t want virtual interlining. No problem. Or maybe compare legacy airline prices with LCCs to see how your credit card bonus points will be affected. Easy.
The usual stuff
FlyLine has the kind of features you’d expect from an OTA:
- Filter search results by airline, departure and arrival time, number of stops and price.
- Compare the quickest vs the cheapest flight. A few extra dollars might mean less travel time.
- No extra booking fees. You’ve already paid for the membership. I like this level of transparency.
- View booking history, just in case your dog ate the itinerary print-out.
- Mobile app – a shiny new app is available for iOS and Android.
What about your airline frequent flyer points?
Don’t worry, you can enter your membership number for over 10 frequent flyer programs within your profile. More will be added in the future.
What if you need to make a change after your booking? For full-service airlines, FlyLine can reach out on your behalf. But for budget airlines, you’ll need to go direct.
What if you change your mind straight after making a booking? No worries, you can cancel a flight booking within 24 hours for free.
More FAQs are answered on FlyLine’s website.
How do the prices compare?
Now the rubber hits the road. I’ve run some random searches on FlyLine, Skyscanner and Expedia and compared the results:
New York to London (return):
- FlyLine: $365 (save $14 – 3.8%)
- Skyscanner: $379
- Expedia: $437
Kuala Lumpur to Barcelona (one way):
- FlyLine: $357 (save $21 – 5.9%)
- Skyscanner: $378
- Expedia: $491
Nashville to Los Angeles (return):
- FlyLine: $150 (save $38 – 25.3%)
- Skyscanner: $225
- Expedia: $188
In my tests, I’ve found routes that were over $1000 cheaper on FlyLine. A couple of times FlyLine was a few dollars more. But I’ve included a mix of middle-of-the-road routes that you might be flying for a more realistic picture. The savings are decent, and they add up fast.
What could be better
FlyLine is a young company and its platform is still growing. Some of these things might be added down the track. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts:
- The user interface is pretty decent overall, but it doesn’t have as much spit and polish as the more established players. This is purely cosmetic. To balance this critique, I have to say, the lack of distracting elements is equally refreshing.
- Unable to view a time range (or the whole month) to see what days are cheaper.
- Red-eye flights could be highlighted with an icon.
- Layover city and length aren’t displayed in a search result until after it’s been clicked (to expand).
- Multiple currency support is lacking.
- Unable to save multiple credit card details for quicker checkout.
- There are no flight alerts for watching price changes on a specific flight.
How much does it cost?
FlyLine offers a 14-day free trial, so try it out right now. You can even do a sample search without signing up. Find how much you would save… you’ve got nothing to lose!
Paid memberships are:
- Basic: US$49.99/yr (6 trips per year, used by 1 person).
- Premium: US$79.99/yr (unlimited trips, used by a companion as well).
You can book flights for family members, friends, co-workers, frenemies, satan, whoever you want, as long as your name (or your companion's name) is on the ticket as well.
If you don’t trust me, and want to do your own digging, you can check out FlyLine on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
The Bottom Line
I’m thoroughly impressed with what the team at FlyLine has created. It’s no small feat to disrupt the airline industry, and they’re certainly doing that already. As a traveller, this is a really useful tool that I can see myself using on a regular basis. There is still is no silver bullet to booking the perfect flight every time, but we’re certainly a big step closer to that with FlyLine.
Where will you go on your next big trip?
Price: from US$49.99
Where to buy: joinflyline.com (no longer works)