There are some tricks to getting the cheapest airline fares, but they are pretty easy. You just need to know where to look if you want to book the really cheap flights. It is also important to be flexible if you want the rock bottom prices. Timing can mean everything in the travel industry.
1. Check Online Travel Agencies First
First thing I do when I'm looking for the best airfare is check with one of the big travel sites. I like to get a benchmark for airfare prices. I usually check Priceline because it has no booking fees and I can see the total cost of the plane ticket, including taxes, without having to add anything to my shopping cart. But you can check Hotwire, Travelocity or Orbitz too. It doesn't really matter. You just need to get a price.
2. Check the Airline's Website
After getting the cheapest airfare I can find on Priceline, then I check with the actual airlines. I actually start with whatever airline was offering the cheapest airline fare on the consolidator's website. Sometimes these airlines offer extra discounts if you sign up for an account and book with them directly. An extra $20 off a $200 fare is a 10% savings. It also doesn't hurt to look for any coupon deals, so be sure to use Google to search for coupons for whatever airlines you are flying.
Also, there are airlines that won't be found on the big travel sites. They are usually smaller, budget airlines, but if they fly the route that you are traveling, you should check with them. Try Spirit Airlines or Southwest for US flights. Other cheap airlines are JetBlue and AirTrans. You can find their fares on the big online travel agency sites, but be sure to check their own sites for any extra breaks they are offering if you book direct.
3. Look for the Cheapest Days to Fly
If your dates are flexible, you can get the really cheap airfares by flying on Tuesday or Wednesday and making sure you stay overnight on Saturday. Sometimes Sundays can be very cheap day to fly too. So play around with the calendar a bit when you are checking airfare to see if the price drops. Or check the "flexible dates" feature and you should see a list of best fare prices.
4. Book in Advance
I'm sure you already know this. You will save money on your flight by booking in advance. Usually 21 days is the optimum booking window. Booking your ticket at least 21 days in advance will almost always get you the cheapest airline fare. So it pays to think ahead.
5. Call a Travel Agent
This may seem a shocking idea in this age of "Do it Yourself" travel, but you may be surprised by what you find. So go ahead and do your research yourself online. Once you know your best deal, call a travel agency and see if they can beat it. I've saved more than $100 on a couple of international flights by doing this, so it is worth a quick phone call. Usually a travel agent can give you an answer after just a couple of minutes search.