Traveling by air is an incredible bargain compared to all the alternatives, and the jaw-dropping expansion in the number of discount airlines has helped keep prices low, but as fuel prices have gone up around the world airfares have gone up as well. So cheap air travel is a relative thing and we only have so much control over what we pay.
The main thing we always want to do is find the cheapest airfare possible, and there are several important strategies to help you do that. Searching for cheap airfare on the internet is always going to be your first and best tool, but there are some tricks you need to know in order to make sure you are getting the best fare possible.
Finding the best airfare websites
Some of the sites do a much better job than others of finding the lowest possible fare for air travel, and using the wrong one is either a waste of time or a good way to throw money away. We cover this topic much more thoroughly on our cheap airfare page, and it’s complete with links to the best sites.
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Know the cheap airlines
As we mention on the cheap airfare page, some of the discount airlines aren’t listed on the main airfare search sites. When you are nearly ready to buy your ticket it’s important to know which of the cheap airlines fly between the cities you are going between. Many of them will come up on all the search sites, but not all of them, so you should take a look at our page about cheap airlines to make sure you aren’t missing anything.
Have a flexible schedule
If you want the cheapest airfares possible it’s very important to be open to using alternative dates when you search. Most flights on most airlines these days begin selling seats on each flight at their lowest price, and the price goes up more as fewer seats are available. The result of this is flights at popular times and on popular days are much more expensive than the rest. Everyone wants to leave on a Friday and come back on a Sunday, so those flights will be most expensive. If you search for flights on Wednesdays you can usually find the lowest possible price for the week, and then compare that to the price for the ideal days you’d like to fly. If the difference is great then perhaps changing your schedule will be worthwhile.
Consider alternate airports
Especially with many of the new discount airlines, you can often save quite a bit of money by flying in or out of secondary airports. Since the major airports have the highest demand for gate space, airlines can save money themselves flying into less popular airports near the same city. They can and do pass those savings on to the passengers, but sometimes finding these flights can be tricky. Have a look at our list of cheap airlines and click on their site to find out which airports they use. This can lead to much cheap airfares, but you also have to consider extra travel time and cost to make sure it’s worthwhile.