It is one thing to find cheap airfare, but another thing to find the best deal. With airfare changing by the hour and airlines removing their fares from travel websites, it is indeed a challenge. USA Today has come up with this guide to get the most out of cheap airfares.
Sign up for free airfare alerts – Researching for cheap flights can take quite a while, so why not let someone else do it for you? Many airfare search and listing sites like TripAdvisor.com, Travelocity.com, Farecompare.com, and Airfarewatchdog.com offer airfare alerts via e-mail when prices go down. It is recommended to subscribe to more than one alert service, making price comparisons much easier. You can also choose “flexible dates” option on these services so you can see which date is cheapest to fly.
Subscribe to airline newsletters – Apart from these airfare alerts, airlines even try to woo travelers to book directly with them by offering cheap airline tickets exclusively to subscribers of their newsletters and e-mail lists. They also offer “promo code” deals that can only be redeemed on their websites, which slashes ticket prices by up to 50%.
Use your frequent miles smartly – Some budget travelers may think it would be even cheaper to use their frequent flier miles, but there are smart and not-so-smart ways to spend them. Instead of cashing in miles for a domestic economy class ticket, why not splurge these miles for a trip to Europe that might cost two to three times more? You could even spend your miles by upgrading your domestic economy class seat to a business class fare. Just remember this simple rule: If the economy class fare is $400 or more, spending at least 25,000 miles is a good deal
Get the best last-minute airfares – You often get the best tickets if you book at least a week ahead of departure. If you do not have the luxury, however, you can try to book hours before the flight (that is, if the flight still has remaining seats). Try Priceline.com and Hotwire.com for last-minute airfares, while you can take a look at Lastminute.com for such deals with hotel and rental car packages, which often cost less than the actual airfare.
Consider booking with a live travel agent – Your friendly neighborhood travel agent may have its ways to save you money. For instance, their software system can find cheap airfares that are not advertised even on e-mail alerts. They also offer “consolidator” airfares, which are heavily discounted. Although these fares come with more restrictions and added service fees, the savings can be greater.
Watch out for added fees – You may have booked a cheap airline ticket, but you might end up paying more once fees are added. Do a web search for “airline baggage fee chart” or “airline fees” so you can be forewarned about what you might pay. Also, weigh your bags at home before leaving for the airport, even bringing your own portable bag scale to make sure youare not being overcharged.
Source: USA Today