Posted: May 7, 2014

Tips for Booking Cheap Flights
Get the best deals on your flights with these quick tips.

The price of air travel always seems to be ridiculously high. Despite flight trackers and other ways to lower the fare, ticket prices come as lofty as that 40,000-foot flight. In the last few years, airfares have risen 12 percent. However, knowing a few tricks of the trade can substantially lower costs, so here's a few tips to help you shave some dollars off your next flight:

Search Early and Often

Consistent searching over a long lead time is the most surefire way to find good deals. Fares and the number of seats offered at the lowest prices fluctuate throughout the day. That means inventory selection might look different at 9 a.m. than it does at 4 p.m. Leave the browser page open and hit the refresh button every so often. 

Get Airfare Alerts by Email

If you don't have the time to hover over the computer, set up an airfare alert that will email you directly when there are certain deals. Many travel websites feature email alerts, but you can also do a web search for "airfare alerts" to see what's available.

Take Advantage of Twitter

While email is efficient, Twitter is immediate, giving you instant access to the deals that may only last a short time. Sometimes coupons even expire within the day. To reap full benefits, follow every airline you like flying, and add @Airfarewatchdog, a company that tweets unusual airfare deals every day of the week. It also alerts followers to promo codes. 

Plan Out Several Flights at Once

If you're flying to somewhere in Europe, you might be able to save money by buying a ticket from not only the U.S. to Madrid, for instance, but also from Madrid to Paris. Combining two separate fares can chip off some cash. Sometimes the same holds true for domestic trips. With this being said, make sure you give yourself plenty of time between connecting flights in case one is delayed. 

Check Alternate Airports

Generally, the less traveled the hub, the more the ticket will cost. So if there is more than one airport near your destination city, don't forget to scout for cheaper flights. Compare and contrast using separate searches. 

Sign Up for Frequent Flyer Programs

Fly often on business travel? Sign up for company's frequent flyer miles to rack up points that match your distance traveled. Acquired miles can be redeemed for air travel or increased benefits like class upgrades, airport lounge access and priority bookings. 

Consider Extra Fees Prior to Booking

Bag fares cost a bundle these days, with some running as high as $115. Factor this in while booking your flight to ensure that the ticket you pay for is in fact cheaper than one from another airline. You don't want to get caught tacking on baggage fees at the airport, since they cost even more. 

Try Splitting Groups into Separate Purchases

Although this sounds counter-intuitive, group discounts are few and far between. Since airlines typically limit the number of seats per flight they sell at their lowest rate, sometimes you can even price yourself out of a good deal by having too many passengers. For example, if an airline has only two seats left going for $100, searching under a group of four will make you miss it. So, if you're traveling with a family of four, consider separating into two groups of two. 

Make Yourself a Flexible Flier

When going on leisure travel, the more flexible you can be, the better. Try departing on Wednesday instead of Saturday, or a few days before Christmas instead of Christmas Eve. Although many sites have eliminated their flexible date calendars, you can still try using Google.

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