Smart travelers don't sit in a travel agents office to plan their vacations anymore, they go to travel websites to find discount airfare deals and book their own cheap flights. Airline carriers are at war and smart consumers who know the secrets to finding great online travel deals, can take advantage of this instability and save hundreds on their plane tickets.
Despite what you may have heard, tickets on flights are not sold at a fixed rate. Most airlines have a complex grading system in place for ticket prices. They have a set number of seats they must fill for a certain price and a second block of seats they will let go for a slightly cheaper ticket price and third set of seats for a another discounted ticket price. So, at any given time when you try to buy online airline tickets, you could come up with a number of different prices.
The secret to dirt cheap airfare, is knowing exactly when, where and how to buy the tickets. Timing is everything when it comes to finding cheap airfare. Should you buy your tickets one, two or six months before your desired departure date? Will you save more by purchasing round trip tickets or one way flights? Should you travel on or off season, and exactly when are the popular flight travel seasons? And finally, should you buy your plane tickets through a discount travel site, or through a popular travel search directory like Expedia or Travelocity?
Your first tip to find cheap airfare is to check out several travel directories that offer price results for all the major airlines so that you can compare ticket prices at a glance. My favorites are Expedia.com for their consistently low flight price quotes and easy two click price checks, Cheaptickets,com for their large inventory of cheap airfare selections and sidestep.com for their huge selection of customized flight results. As a traveler you need to log on to these websites and get a feel for how often the prices change and bookmark them for future use.
Airlines and travel websites offer bigger discounts and cheaper airfare prices to people who book online because it saves them the overhead costs of printing and handling a paper ticket. So be sure to use the e-ticket option when purchasing your plane tickets online. Don't wait till the last minute though, the best cheap airfare prices are found about 21 days before your departure date.
The highest plane ticket prices are found 14 days or less before departure, so don't wait till the last minute to buy your ticket if you're hoping to find discount airfare. But keep in mind that many airlines give away dirt cheap plane tickets about half an hour before liftoff.
Be sure to purchase round trip tickets rather than one way, the best cheap airfare deals are usually offered to round trip travelers.
Cheap flights during the holidays can be hard to find, the secret is to fly the day of the holiday not the day before or after when flights are jam packed.
You can save even more money on airfare if your plan your vacation during the off season. Travel professionals say that the best time to book a cheap flight online is mid-January to end February, April through May, and in the fall from mid-September to mid-December.
The time of day that you book online plane tickets is important too. If you checked plane ticket prices at 6 am and then again at 6 pm on the same travel website, you'd be shocked to find that you just lost 20 or 30 bucks by waiting too long or not long enough. Another variable that is imperative to finding dirt cheap flights is, the day of the week you make your online ticket purchase. Most traveler's purchase their tickets on a Saturday or Sunday, but is that the smartest day to get dirt cheap airfare?