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Airfare Tips - How to Find the Best Deals Online

Finding the best deals on airline tickets requires some research and flexibility. Here are some tips that may help you find the best deals:

1. Compare prices on multiple platforms: Use online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia and Priceline, as well as meta-search engines like Kayak and Google Flights, to compare prices from multiple airlines in one place, but be sure to also check airline websites to see if they offer the same flight at a lower price.

2. Be flexible with your travel dates and times: Airline ticket prices can vary significantly depending on the time of year, day of the week, and time of day. If possible, be flexible with your travel dates and times to find the cheapest flights.

3. Set fare alerts: Some OTAs and meta-search engines allow you to set fare alerts for specific routes and dates. They will then notify you when prices drop.

4. Book in advance: In general, the best time to book a flight is between three months and 30 days before your departure date. Prices tend to be higher if you book too far in advance or too close to the departure date.

5. Consider alternative airports: In some cases, you may be able to find cheaper flights by flying into or out of alternative airports that are nearby your destination.

There are several potential benefits to booking a flight directly with an airline rather than through an online travel agency:

1. Customer service: If you have a problem with your flight or need to make changes to your reservation, it can be easier to deal directly with the airline rather than going through a third-party travel agency. The airline may also be more willing to accommodate special requests or changes if you booked directly with them.

2. Miles! Many airlines have loyalty programs that reward frequent flyers with points or miles that can be redeemed for future flights or other perks. In some cases, you may only be eligible to earn these rewards if you book directly with the airline.

3. Easier management of reservations: When you book directly with an airline, you can typically manage your reservation through the airline's website or app, which can be more convenient than dealing with an OTA's website or customer service department.

4. Access to more options: Some airlines only offer certain options (such as seat selection or baggage allowances) to customers who book directly with them.

5. Price: Airlines sometimes reserve their best fares for customers who book directly, and they may also offer exclusive discounts or promotions on their websites. That said, Expedia and other OTAs often offer bundled deals that include flights, hotels, and other travel services. These packages can sometimes be a good way to save money on your trip.

Ultimately, the best approach is to compare prices and options on both airline websites and OTAs before making a booking.

And, for groups of 10 or more, it makes sense to start with a group flight request form. Airlines will often give additional discounts along with the benefits listed above.

Happy airfare shopping!

Article updated November 2023.