Cheap airfare, it's something we're all looking for. It is human nature to want to travel, to explore your horizons and see new places, or perhaps, to return to the places you once knew. Whether you want to visit home or see an exotic location, airline travel is fast, but costs a lot of money. What is the best way for finding cheap airline tickets? How do you even start? Whether you are traveling for work, for vacation, or to visit family or friends, finding cheap airfare can help you save on what's often the largest expense of your trip.
Airfares vary widely, and discount airfare is out there for those who know where to look. The most important thing is that you make sure to compare airfares. The rates offered by one airline may be much higher or lower than the rates of another. If you use one of the popular travel sites, you can easily compare airfares from different airlines. Also, if you have any flexibility in your schedule, try putting different dates into the sites' ticket finders to see if that makes a difference.
Try to fly on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, if possible. Those are often the cheapest days of the week. If possible, avoid Fridays and Sundays, when rates tend to go up. Flying right before a major holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, is going to be very expensive. But if you are able to fly on the day of the holiday itself, you can usually pick up some very cheap fares because not many people want to fly then.
Get your tickets early -- but not too early. You may think it would be smart to buy tickets six months in advance, but in fact, getting tickets more than five months before you need them may keep you from getting the best fares. Aim for two to four months in advance, if possible. If you can't plan that far in advance, at least try to avoid the two-week period right before a flight, when ticket prices tend to go up.
Specialty sites like "air fare watch dog" provide a medium for you to search for deals between two specific locations, and also can send you alerts when prices drop to a much more affordable rate. This is perfect for those who know where they want to travel, just are not too concerned about when. They can snag a great deal and plan their trip once they get that informative e-mail from the website.
Fly in or out of airports that are not in your destination city. If you are flying into New York City, you may be able to get cheaper fares at the Newark airport than you would in New York City's JFK Airport. If you are going to or from San Francisco, try the Oakland or San Jose airports. Many other cities also have airports that are nearby but outside of the city limits. Flying out of an alternate airport isn't even necessarily a hardship. For example, If you are going to some parts of Manhattan, ground transportation may get you there faster from Newark than from JFK. You will benefit on price, though, because not as many people will think of using the other airports, so the seats won't sell out as quickly. Always think in terms of supply and demand when trying to find cheap airfare.
Major travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia, and others provide a wide variety of services not limited to air travel. Many of their deals are tied-in to the other services in order to really achieve their full potential (i.e., if you want that great deal on the air fare, you have to get the cruise, too). If you have to reserve room and board and like one-stop shopping, these sites can be a great way to realize some incredible savings. Also, be sure to check out their "Low fare" section, as they will typically offer deals for travel between specific cities.
Accept a little inconvenience in exchange for a cheaper price. You may be able to save money on long trips by taking routes where you change planes rather than taking a non-stop flight. If you're not in a hurry, you don't need to pay a premium for the faster route. Try traveling lighter to avoid the luggage fees that so many airlines are charging now. Be creative in figuring out how to get by with fewer things on your trip.
Don't neglect your local travel agency. Travel agencies may seem outdated, but they will always have access to deals that you will not find elsewhere. If you are not in a hurry, check with your travel agency and let them know what you are looking for. It is in their best interest to make sure you find a great deal and are happy, because they don't get paid unless they make a sale. You never know whether they will have that perfect airfare or travel package that you couldn't find online.
Another place to check are bargain airlines. For most people, the main concern is getting from point a to point b, and they are not overly concerned with how that happens. For instance, if a person is traveling from Houston to Dallas or San Antonio, they are not likely to be concerned with meal service on a flight. Many of the bargain airlines advertise no frills, but in some ways are actually better equipped to handle some flights than larger carriers. Some bargain airlines, for instance, have done away with baggage fees in order to entice customers to fly with their company. If you are a business person on a short trip, or a family bound for grandma's house for the holidays, saving $30-$50 per flight per person in baggage fees is well worth giving up a pillow or blanket.
Whether you are longing to return home, or are looking for your next luxurious destination, odds are you are going to want to fly. Nobody wants to spend more on air fare than they need to; having more money to spend at your destination is the main goal. So, to realize your best savings, make sure you follow these three tips for cheap air fare sources.