How to Buy Cheap Airline Tickets

With an influx of studies about the best time to buy airline tickets, search engines that aggregate the prices of dozens of travel websites, and airlines accommodating the strained wallets of most people post-2008 economic downturn, booking cheap airline tickets is easier than ever. Keep reading for detailed information on how to take advantage of all of the tools at your disposal to ensure that you get the best deal on your vacation. To get as much bang for your buck, you'll have to start planning months in advance and secure refunds if a ticket price dips below what you paid for.It is always advisable to shortlist two to three destinations and work towards the one which offers savings in all aspects


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    Plan in advance and sign up for email alerts about low-fare deals. To ensure you get the best deals, you should know at least 3 months in advance that you want to take a trip somewhere. If you have a specific destination in mind, sign up for a low-fare alert from Yapta or AirfareWatchdog. Make sure you include nearby departure and arrival airports when you sign up -- you might get more emails, but it'll be well-worth the savings in cost.
    • If you don't have a specific destination in mind, sign up for email alerts about the cheapest tickets from a particular departure airport (and any nearby airports). AirfareWatchdog also organizes the best prices for flights from a particular city and to a particular city, so you can prepare the most cost-effective, multi-destination itinerary.
    • AirfareWatchdog has real people, not computers, vet deals they hear about to ensure that the sales to which they alert customers are actually worthwhile.[1]
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    Know the best time in advance to book tickets. According to studies cited by The New York Times, international flights have been the cheapest 3-5 months in advance, but there is variation among different regions.[2] Domestic flights are a bit trickier to pin-point, but it's a good idea to start searching 3-4 months in advance and see if they get any cheaper week after week -- there have been studies indicating a 6-weeks-in-advance sweet spot for domestic flight booking.[3]
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    Know when airfare prices are typically the lowest. Airlines generally release sales for specific routes Monday night because they want travel agencies to catch wind of sales early in the week.[4] Deals are then matched by competitors Tuesday morning. Therefore, your best shot at these deals is by searching for flights Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon or evening.
    • Keep in mind that fares will be highest on the weekend. Airlines know that's the most convenient time for people to think about vacation plans, so they markup their prices then. Sales released early in the week are also gone by the weekend. Moreover, airlines don't manage their inventory as much on the weekend because they have fewer staffers on hand -- so if a few tickets sell for a specific route, prices will automatically jump higher because computer algorithms perceive an increased demand.[5]
    • It's a good idea to do a cursory search for specific routes of interest on several days of the week (including weekends) at least a before you are planning to book, so you have an idea of how much the tickets cost. That way, you can identify a sale when it appears.
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    Use aggregator sites to search for fares. There are simply too many different airline and travel websites for you to make individual queries in each one, so use Software by Google. It not only aggregates dozens of airline and travel websites to give you the best price, but it also has a low-fare calendar so you can see which are the cheapest days to travel in a 30-day period. You can also easily include nearby airports in your search.
    • Not every airline/travel website is included in ITA Software, so you may want to visit favorite airlines separately. Also, if you know that a certain airline operates out of a particular destination or specializes in certain routes (e.g., Southwest for flights in the western U.S., Hawaiian Air for flights in the Asia-Pacific, etc.), you may want to make those searches separately to make sure you're not missing the best deals.
    • AirfareWatchdog allows you to make searches at individual sites with just a few clicks. Search for a flight, and a box will pop up asking you which sites you'd like to visit. Each logo or link you click on will open the search in a new window.
    • According to FareCompare, the cheapest day to fly is Wednesday, followed by Tuesday and Saturday. Friday and Sunday are the most expensive -- naturally, as many seek weekend getaways. But this can vary among destinations and months, so use a low-fare calendar to be sure you're getting the best price.
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    Clear out your cache and cookies in between airline searches, especially on different days or weeks. Otherwise, old prices will sometimes display in lieu of new ones, and you may miss out on the best price.
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    For advanced airfare sleuths, consider piecing together flights by hand with cost-saving characteristics. Here are several methods to consider:
    • Instead of searching for round-trip tickets, search for two one-way tickets separately. Sometimes purchasing separate tickets on unaffiliated carriers will save you money.
    • Search for red-eye flights and other unpopular times. Because of supply and demand, it is going to be more expensive to fly during a convenient time like 10 a.m. than in the middle of the night at 11 p.m.
    • Shop as though you are from another country if flying from one international location to another international location. You may save even more by not purchasing in your home country. For example, let's say you are an American and you want to fly from Thailand to Vancouver, Canada. Your best bet to search for prices in Thailand, not the US, as this fare is best priced from that market. US booking engines typically give a higher price.
    • If traveling around the holidays, know it is generally cheaper to fly on the holiday itself. People generally want to relax on holidays, and not deal with the hassles of air travel, so tickets are sometimes cheaper then.
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    Consider purchasing through consolidators, which buy bulk tickets in advance to select routes with certain carriers.
    • To find a consolidator that works best for you, research the Sunday travel sections of newspapers in big U.S. cities that have a huge population of the country you want to visit. For example, if you want to travel to Israel, New York Sunday newspapers will probably be your best bet. The Israeli population is big in NY and you will find plenty of consolidators advertising to this community for travel to Israel.
    • Note that buying through a consolidator may make it difficult or impossible for you to change plans once you have booked your ticket.
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    After you purchase your ticket, don't unsubscribe from those email alerts! Continue watching those prices just in case they drop significantly below what you paid. If that happens, use Yapta to help you get a refund from your airline.
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    Airlines keep coming up with promotional fares for their low selling flights.So In case the destination for which the low fare is offered suits you, the airline can send you an email alert during the promotion.It is also advisable to sign up with the airline websites as well


  • If traveling around the world, purchase a round the world ticket. There are also other discount fares such as Circle Pacific and Air Passes offered by certain carriers.
  • Popular travel sites are listed below (wikiHow neither endorses or recommends any one particular airline carrier or travel provider over another). These represent a small segment of the travel industry. Use good discretion when conducting your searches.
  • Look for pricing mistakes. Sites like Skoovy offer a way to search for pricing mistakes of which you can take advantage.
  • Airlines typically don't offer upgrades if you bought the cheapest fare listed. Your best bet is to contact the carrier or a travel agent and ask about fares that are upgradeable, if that's something you want.
  • If you prefer flying first class, you can save money by purchasing a business class ticket instead if available. Both first-class and business class sit in the same front section, eat the same meals and are treated exactly the same, yet business class is often half the fare of first-class -- go figure!
  • Shop around! Compare prices among the airlines, travel agents, online booking sites, and consolidators -- don't rely on one method of purchase.

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Categories: Buying Air Travel