How to Find the Lowest Airfares

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With some patience and flexibility you can find the lowest airfare.
With some patience and flexibility you can find the lowest airfare. (Image: airplane image by Clarence Alford from Fotolia.com)

Humans have always wanted to soar through the sky, and in 1903, the Wright brothers did just that with their historical air flight. Over a century later, air travel is now a routine way of getting from point A to point B. One of the hardest things about air travel is finding the cheapest fare with the fewest stopovers possible. With some patience and ingenuity, you can find the lowest airfare available to the destination of your choice.

Things You'll Need

  • Calendar
  • Airline frequent flyer number
  • Credit card

Airfares

Look at your calendar for your intended travel dates. Flexibility is the key to getting the lowest price on airfare. Choose dates that are in the middle of the week—Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday—for both your departure and arrival dates. If you need to travel on a holiday, book tickets for days before or after the holiday, instead of on the day of the holiday itself.

Be flexibile with your dates.
Be flexibile with your dates. (Image: calendar image by Szymon Apanowicz from Fotolia.com)

Check websites that offer cheap flights, such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Cheap Flights or Expedia. Some sites have a function that will ask you to check a box if your dates are flexible, or if you mind having stopovers. Check both of these boxes, because this may get you a cheaper ticket. You may need to catch an early morning or late night flight to get the best price. Some sites will offer you a better deal on airfare if you book hotel accommodations at the same time you book your flight.

Check airline websites directly, especially smaller carriers like Southwest or Jet Blue. Some smaller airlines don't sell their tickets through other travel sites, like the big carriers do, so it pays to check the websites of airlines flying to your destination. All airlines have seat sales periodically, which are advertised on their websites.

Maintain airline frequent flyer miles with all the carriers on which you fly. Sometimes you can get special discounts or buy miles at a low rate, which can then be used toward the purchase of an airline ticket. This is a fantastic way to save big bucks.

Sometimes choosing smaller airports can save money. For example, if you are flying to Los Angeles, try the Burbank airport instead of the Los Angeles International Airport. Also, when traveling to Europe, flying into London can be cheaper than other European destinations. There are many small airlines that fly throughout Europe, so you'll have a lot of options in terms of booking a cheap flight out of London to your main destination.

Start making your travel plans early. If you are going to a popular city during high season, start planning at least a couple of months in advance. Usually, the earlier you book your flight, the less expensive your tickets will be. One month early is better than two weeks before your departure date, but two weeks is better than the day before you want to travel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be patient and scour the internet for deals. You can also check with travel agencies. Some travel companies, like STA Travel, specialize in student travel, which gives great discounts to full-time students under the age of 26.
  • Read all the fine print and any warnings on the website before you enter your credit card information to buy the tickets.
  • Read and understand the cancellation or rescheduling policies.
  • If your flight has a lot of stopovers, the hassle and stress involved might not be worth the discount.

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