Tips to Finding Cheap Airfare Online

Think scoring a great price on airline tickets is all about luck of the draw? Think again — there’s a science to it. Trust us, by taking a minute to follow these tips, you’ll be ready to pounce the second prices dip. Happy vacationing! 

Time it right: Hoping for a summer sojourn? Better get on it. The sweet spot for buying tickets is two to three months in advance (or, if you’re going international, six to eight months).

Search AirfareWatchdog: Like the major travel search sites (Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity), collects and compares flight prices from multiple cities and carriers. But what makes it different is that actual humans (not computers!) carry out the searches. Though you can’t purchase tickets directly, they provide where-to-buy links.

Set alerts: On sites like Kayak you can enter your maximum price for a certain route or destination and they’ll email you whenever the rates drop below it.

Buy straight from the carrier: The lowest prices are almost always on the airline’s own sites. Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia are great for comparing, but they tack on a service fee of $3 to $30.

Start bidding: If you’re flexible on departure time, airline, and airport (in bigger cities), try bidding for a ticket on sites like Priceline or Hotwire. This is where the lowest fares pop up — often for even less than you’d pay on the airline’s site.

Follow up on Yapta: Many airlines have low-price guarantees for tickets purchased through their own websites. This means if you buy a ticket and later find a lower fare or the price drops, you could receive compensation for the difference. Go online to after you’ve puchased. Enter a confirmation code and they’ll let you know if the price goes down.  How cool is that?

So tell us, where are you headed next?

Our expert: Sam Sellers, author of ebook Take Control of Booking a Cheap Airline Ticket,

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image via // story originally by The Nest

  • Catherine Grace

    I also love skyscanner, because you can filter the airlines, leaving time etc.

    Hopefully headed to America next ! 🙂

  • Kathryn

    I’m an Everygirl addict, and recently started We offer a service that allows groups to book travel at lower prices!

  • One other trick is to use “in private” or “incognito” browsers when you’re searching for flights because airlines use cookies to track your visits/searches so you might not get the best deal every time.

    We just booked tickets to Europe for under $700/person with incognito searching!

  • Lindsey + Haley

    As someone who works in the travel industry, this is spot on! I love using Kayak’s price predictor to help pick when the best time to buy is.

  • I also recommend to research when is the best time to fly.

  • Daniel

    As Catherine Grace mentioned is also a good search site because they pull in some of the low cost carriers like Spirit or Southwest that other sites don’t show you.

    Another good way to get cheap airfare is to use the frequent flyer programs to your advantage. You don’t actually have to fly a lot to accumulate a large stash of miles/points that will let you travel for just a few dollars roundtrip in cash.

    When using frequent flyer miles the advice to book far in advance sometimes does not hold as you can pick up award seats bookable with points/miles at the “last minute” when the airline realizes it won’t sell the seat and makes it available for loyalty program members.

    Use a site like to learn more about how to get cheap (or free) flights using points and miles.

    There are also some more advanced strategies for reducing the cost of airfare that take some more learning such as throwing away final legs of tickets. One of the sites that helps people with this has been in the news lately because the creator was sued by an airline but basically came out ahead in court.

  • I am going to try these tips and wish me luck. It is a great time to get to Europe, the euro is down! Sorry my overseas friends, but I miss you and want to come see you for a change, haha!