1. Auction sites
A flight auction site is a site which auctions off their available offers to the person who offers the highest price. You put in a bid as to what you are willing to pay and if your bid is accepted you will end up with the flight.
It is likely that the price you will end up with will be considerably cheaper than a conventional ticket to the same destination. However, you can only specify the destination you wish to travel to and the departure and arrival dates. Things such as preferred airline and the flight times are usually out of your control.
2. Apex tickets
You can save up to 60% when you book non-flexible, non-refundable apex tickets. They must be booked and paid for well in advance of departure, varying between seven days and a month, a minimum stay abroad is required and no stopovers are allowed. Ideal for the flexible, committed traveller as there can be up to 12 different fares for the same seat in economy class.
3. Courier travel
A little known way of obtaining cheap flights is by signing on as an air courier with a courier company. The courier company purchases the ticket from the airline and sells it to the courier for a really cheap price in return for their work.
Check the company is officially recognised by a trustworthy source. A good place to check is 'IAATC - International Association of Air Travel Couriers'. They have lots of information and advice on the most trusted courier companies, the best offers to various destinations and up to date information on last minute flights. Alternatively, just look up "courier companies" on the internet or in local directories.
Anyone who is over 21 can become an air courier. Check each company's conditions before signing on. After signing up as a courier you will usually be required to show up at the airport at a certain time to be given instructions as to where to meet the courier agent (the person you are handing the baggage over to at the destination airport).
Couriers can save up to 75% off the regular air fare price. Destinations are limited however and the length of stay usually varies between 14 and 21 days.
This is a good option if you are looking for a unique and interesting way to save money on your airline ticket.
4. Ticket consolidators
Buy tickets through consolidators (ticket brokers) who buy blocks of tickets and sell them at a discount to help an airline fill up all available seats. Check the travel section of the newspaper or online under 'Ticket Consolidators.'
5. Promotional Flight Sales
Budget airlines have free 'flights sales' (or technically $1 or 1GBP) to build up a customer base or promote their newest routes and services by slashing fares and offering free return tickets. Always check the sale price says "includes taxes or charges" though, or it can still add up to $47/30GBP each way. Keep up to date by subscribing to their newsletters.
6. "Code share"
When you find a flight, ask an agent if it is a "code-share" flight. That means the same flight is offered by two different airlines. Copy down the name of the other airline and check into what they are charging. Only one of the airlines will be operating the flight. The actual operator always offers this flight for less, so book with them.
7. Frequent flyer schemes
Several airlines offer frequent flyer programmes as a reward for flying with their airline. Go to the airline's website which you are interested in joining and go to their frequent flyer section. Simply enter your details and you will be issued with your personal number. Then, whenever you book a flight online or through an agent always mention your frequent flyer number so that the reward miles can be credited to your account. This is beneficial for regular travellers.
Many airline-linked credit cards offer you free return trips as an incentive if you successfully apply for a card. So buy something that you would normally buy and pay in full when you get your statement.
8. One-stop shop
Avoid the middleman. If you find a flight through an online comparison site, put the flight details into the airline's own website. Booking directly through the airline will quite often save you up to $23 or 15GBP. Budget airlines aren't always cheapest, you will always get the cheapest fare direct from these airlines own websites, as almost all other ways of booking will charge a service fee.
9. Charter/no frills/standby flights
Charter flights are provided by package holiday companies to transport their passengers. If you're going to a traditional package holiday destination, you may be able to find one super-cheap. As the operator books the whole plane, there's occasionally spare seats, which they can offer very cheaply to flight-only customers. It's worth going direct to charter airlines and asking them for top last-minute charter deals although local travel agents can often beat them.
No-frills or budget airline tickets have to be booked directly via the airline's website. They offer no extras such as entertainment or assigned seating but the cost can be as low as $20/13GBP, depending on your destination.
Standby fares are suitable if you're flying off-season and a reasonable option if you can wait around until a seat becomes available. High season is a bad time to fly standby because most airlines overbook flights, making it difficult to find a spare seat.
Vary the airports you arrive and depart from. Check at least three different departure points to the same destination. Check those airports which are in close proximity to your initial departure point and check the prices. Budget airlines often use smaller, less busy airports to fly from and to. Likewise for the destination you are planning to travel to, check secondary airports to the initial destination you plan to go to. Prices differ between airports in the same area.
Travelling through the night and midweek will be cheaper and there will be no weekend supplement. If you fly before June and after August fares drop sharply - typically by 200GBP/$313 a head.
The sale price on an airline ticket is not always the lowest price available. You may be able to find a lower price on a non-sale ticket from another airline. Budget airlines aren't always cheapest, so use a screenscraping comparison site where your trip details are zipped to scores of budget airlines, normal airlines and brokers, to find the cheapest quote.
Low-cost airlines often announce flight sales that offer cheaper flight deals on selected dates. People with flexible travel dates and destinations tend to scoop up the best bargains. They're willing to fly any carrier at any time from any airport in their area.
Call the airlines between midnight and 1 a.m. Monday to Friday to get cheaper tickets. Most people are unaware that at midnight, airline agents revise and load new fares into their computers. The best fares are just after they have done the updating.
According to various travel agents, the best time to book is 11 months before you're due to travel. The flights have just been released and there are plenty of cheaper seats available.
Remember - Whatever ticket price you're quoted, make sure it includes any extra charges. They can bump up a ticket price by $100/64GBP or more. Some ads for low fares don't include taxes, fees etc.