Insider Tips to Finding the Best Airline Ticket Prices

7 STEPS TO BECOME A SAVVY TRAVELER

Travel search engines have changed the world of travel for both business and pleasure. Gone are the days of using agents and guidebooks to book airline tickets. With a few clicks, you can plan an entire vacation in an evening from the comfort of your home.

Using a travel search engine, however, doesn’t guarantee the lowest price. As easy as searching millions of flights and car rentals in a millisecond is, it’s important to remember that sites like Kayak, Skyscanner or Expedia are still businesses.

That’s why savvy travelers always do their research before booking a flight. The followingsteps can save time and hassle as well because they use less crowded times and airports.

STEP 1

Clear all your cookies before booking

Websites use cookies to identify you as a user and follow you around the internet. This is how they know your gender, age, financial background or hometown. If a travel website knows you have searched “vacations in Chile” or chatted with a friend on Facebook, they (sometimes) then raise the ticket price. This is especially true if you search a specific route often. Clearing your cookies is the quickest and easiest way to save anywhere from $20 to $40. Depending on where you’re flying, that could be the equivalent of a night at a hotel or a good dinner.

Step 2
Check prices in incognito mode

Following the above point, always make sure to double check all listed prices in incognito mode on your Google browser. Or, in layman’s terms, double check prices on a network that isn’t linked to your location or identity. If you’re tech savvy, VPNs work well for this too.All of these travel search engines rely on algorithms to determine the prices that they offer customers. Visit travel websites, where you can specify destinations, dates and classes of travel to receive a list of airlines and their airfares. Sort the list according to price so you know which airline has the lowest fare.

STEP 3

Visit the website of the airline with the lowest fare.
Many will boast that their own sites have the lowest prices. For example, if Alaska Airlines shows the cheapest prices on the travel site, go to AlaskaAir.com. It even has a special page listing web specials with limited availability that may cut your prices even more.

STEP 4

Sign up for an airline’s frequent flyer programs.
Not only does this cost nothing but you will typically receive emails of airfare discounts that may not be revealed to the public. You can also start earning mileage points when you travel or by using affiliated credit cards or merchants. After you accumulate enough points, you can exchange them for free trips. Although you can sign up for every airline mileage program in the world, it’s best to concentrate on a company that uses a nearby airport as a hub so you can concentrate your efforts.

STEP 5

Plan your flights for off-peak times.
Traveling off-peak seasons, weekdays or times allows you to take advantage of airline offerscreated to fill planes. You’ll also encounter fewer delays because of the reduced traffic.

STEP 6

Use smaller airports.

Flights may be cheaper at smaller airports than at the major hubs. For example, rather than go through Seattle-Tacoma, try Bellingham. Or instead of LAX, look to Long Beach. You may encounter fewer delays too. However, factor in the additional time it may take to drive from the small airport into town.

STEP 7
Pay for a bag in advance if you can’t fit everything into a carry-on.

As airlines around the world, and especially in America, have cut their perks, the luggage allowance is one of the ways that they have tried to make some extra cash. And while the days of free luggage is probably gone for all domestic flights, if you know you’ll be traveling with luggage, it’s better to purchase a luggage allowance before you get to the airport. Usually prices are double when you check in.  If the option of purchasing a luggage allowance isn’t available when you book through a travel search engine, update your reservation on the airline’s own website.

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