Learn how travel Ninjas get Grab A Seat Deals

We have cornered two Grab A Seat Ninjas and interrogated them on how they manage to get those Air New Zealand Grab A Seat $1 deals.

You will become a wise master of the trade after reading their insightful tips on getting these amazing cheap flights. We wish to thank the Ninjas on behalf of all wannabe Ninjas.

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The Interrogation

Give us a quick run down of your Grab a seat Ninja claim to fame?

 
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Ninja1:
From my flight log you can see I've probably booked a lot more sale fares than most people. It started off with the Air NZ 2 for 1 Mother's Day promo in April 2007 when I went to LAX, and from there I started to get interested in Air NZ promotions. I had booked a trip to SYD for Sept 2007 and then I heard about their 30,000ft Catwalk flight for Fashion Week so booked on that flight SYD-AKL, cut my trip short and forfeited the original return sector I had booked on. Following that, I got a grabaseat flight to MEL for $208 return which was booked on Thursday morning for travel the next day. Then followed with international grabaseat flights to SFO, PVG, HKG, LAX, CNS and a lot of domestic flights.

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Ninja2:
Currently i have 67 grabaseat tickets. 80% of them are return with 2 people. So I would say at least 150 $1 flights.

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Why do you travel so much? (Is it for work, gaining status points or chatting up flight attendants)

 
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Ninja1:
I travel a lot because I enjoy it. I don't have the luxury of travelling for work (not working at the moment) and I don't have an employer who will pay for my travel. Since I flew to HKG, LAX and CNS on Air NZ between Nov 2009 and Feb 2010, that racked up 350 Status Points, I decided that I would try to get to Silver since it was only 100 Status Points away, which is just over 4 domestic return trips over 300km (24 x 4 = 96). Since I'm not working I thought $1 fares would obviously work out the cheapest. 4 return trips didn't sound like much of an effort so I set a goal of attaining Gold Status using grabaseat fares (or the cheapest that I could get).

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Ninja2:
I travel because its only $1!!

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Ok can you tell us the nuts and bolts on how you get these great Grab a seat deals

 
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Ninja1:
I'm usually awake at midnight so I can check out the grabaseat website (Note Grabaseat are now coming out at 3am). Normally I'm only interested in the $1 flights or if there are any international flights ex AKL. Depending on what time it says the flights are coming up will determine the time of day. Morning = 0700-1200, Afternoon = 1201-1700, Evening = 1701-2100. Usually on Sundays the $1 flights come up at 6pm. I'm logged into grabaseat/Air NZ Airpoints account, and have my credit card number copied so I can paste it in at the payment stage. Also helps to know the layout of the booking engine, credit card expiry date off the top of your head and also which boxes to check.  
 
Page One: First check box is for travel insurance, Second check box is if the passenger is a child travelling alone, so for most people these would remain unchecked. 
 
Page Two: Check box confirming acceptance of fare conditions and conditions of carriage.

UPDATE There has been a change to Grabaseat system and here are the new tips.

Log in to grabaseat and if you get the seats then you have 5min to input details and purchase. Another trick is even though the grabaseat page may say "sold out", if you keep searching the grabaseat dates for a few minutes after the flights were posted, you may find some seats that have been fed back into the system from people who had them on hold and decided not to buy. I don't think the main grabaseat page updates the counter to reflect these seats.

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Ninja2:
I have to confess. I work in a job where I monitor computer systems all day... so grab a seat has become part of my monitoring. I usually only get the "check back later this morning" deals, unless is something I really want. Basically here are my main tactics.

  1. ReloadEvery (Extension for firefox which reloads the page every 10 seconds)

  2. Fill out the booking form details for a random flight so the default values are set.

  3. Have my credit card number sitting in a notepad for quick copy and paste (possibly not the most secure way) / OR learn ur CC number off by heart.

  4. Choose "These days Only" instead of "accross the week" you skip a lot of loading time. 

The most important thing to do is NOT be fussy with your days. Go like mad and just book any day, its that far in advance and there is always sick leave!

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What seats do you prefer....aisle or window? Front or back of plane?

 
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Ninja1:
I always prefer a window seat because I like looking out the window, plus you have something to lean on.  I never leave my seat on flights (even long haul ones) so having to climb over people is never a problem for me. I don’t like the aisle seat because people always brush against you when walking up and down the aisles, and you have to get up when people in your row want to get out. I’ve been lucky on most long haul flights to have a spare seat next to me. I prefer sitting next to the galley on Air NZ 747’s as it is like a private cabin (instead of 3-4-3 it is 3-Galley-3). On domestic flights I prefer the front on small aircraft (ATR72, Q300) so that the propellers are behind me, and the same for 737’s as Air NZ have Space+ so there is extra leg room.

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Ninja2:
Front - quick to get off and window.

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As a good Ninja does, are you withholding any information so we don't all go out there and get great these deals?

 
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Ninja1:
Nope. The grabaseat airfares are open to everyone to book and I have no trouble with people booking them if that means I can’t get them. It all comes down to speed and the ability to be flexible with dates. Of course that can’t work for everyone, but for the purposes of what I am trying to do (get to Gold), I generally fly to a destination and try to get the next flight home which most people would not do.

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Ninja2:
Of course... still many flights I want to take! I think if people try ReloadEvery they will increase there chance a lot.

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Do you have any other top secret Ninjaristic advice for rookie Ninja's?

 
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Ninja1:
I don't try and book EVERY $1 fare. If I can be bothered waiting for it to come up, then I will try to get it (e.g. if I jump online at 11am and $1 flights "coming up this morning" haven't come up, then I will wait because I know it will appear in the next hour), but I don't lose any sleep if I miss out. I also don't get alerts sent from @grabaseat to my phone because they generally come up on twitter after they show up on grabaseat.co.nz, and also their messages won't send to my phone (no idea why!).

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Ninja2:
The most important thing to do is NOT be fussy with your days. Go like mad and just book any day, its that far in advance and there is always sick leave!

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