Finding Cheap Airline Flights

In recent years there’s been a huge proliferation of price-comparison websites offering to find you cheap airline flights (cheap airfare tickets) within a couple clicks of your mouse. But there are a couple problems with using these cheap-ticket sites. One is simply that there are now so many of them you may need hours if not days of research just to get them sorted out and decide which ones have the best deals for the kind of travel you’re planning. The second problem is that, in truth, these sites often don’t get you the top deals after all your work.Because there are now so many price-comparison sites out there nowadays most people wind up just sticking with one favorite, like Kayak.com or Expedia’s FareCompare – but this is really a leap of faith. Such sites may or may not provide the best price for your trip. Following is a more thorough step-by-step approach to shopping for rock-bottom fares. Note that while I am picking a few sites I feel are good, there are others just as good.Step 1: Always start your research with a megasite. I like Travelocity.com myself. Here you’ll have access to the airline’s openly published fares. These are the fares that the airlines openly publicize and market. On Travelocity, just fill in the “From” and “To” fields, then click on “Flexible Dates” and then “Search Flights” — this search will give you a list of the cheapest published rates. Have a notebook handy and write down the best deal or deals for your trip.Step 2: Go to one of the discounted-fares sites. Try Kayak.com and check what they have to offer. If you find better deals than your did on Travelocity, write them down.Step 3: Next go to AirlineConsolidator.com and get a list of consolidators. These are companies that buy seats in bulk and resell them, usually to travel agents but also occasionally to individuals. For a really cheap airline flight, you should try to book a month or more in advance with a consolidator, though sometimes last-minute seats are available. Sometimes these consolidators have the best prices to be found anywhere. A few reputable consolidators are AirfarePlanet.com (based in Salem OR), DfwTours.com (based in Dallas TX), and PicassoTravel.net (based in Los Angeles CA). Again, if you find the best deal so far, write it down.Step 4: Finally, go to Priceline.com and submit a bid in which you reduce the lowest fare you’ve found in Steps 1 – 3 above by 20%. Submitting to Priceline is fairly simple for airline tickets. Just enter your home city and destination, your preferred dates, and number of tickets needed. Then choose the airports you want. Priceline will get back to you by email within an hour, telling you if your bid has been accepted or not. If it has, you’ll receive your tickets by priority mail, usually within a couple days.If you follow the above four steps on every trip you’re virtually sure to save a bunch of money on airfare.

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