The best way to find a good airfare deal is to let the deals come to you. Sign up for the appropriate progams to receive alerts, then do a metasearch to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered when trying to find the cheapest flight.
Airfare Alert Newsletters
First of all, sign up for the deals newsletters from your preferred airline. Ideally this is wherever you have the most mile-earning power: the legacy airline you fly the most and the budget airline you fly the most. Delta and Jet Blue, for instance, or British Air and Easyjet.
For circle-the-globe trips, round-the-world fares, or complicated itineraries involving several different countries, the clear market leader is Airtreks.com. Offering similar deals are Around the World Tickets, BootnsAll’s RTW service, and several agencies that advertise in the Sunday newspapers in big cities such as New York, Chicago, Toronto, and London. Note that if you are in the U.S., you will usually pay more for your RTW ticket than someone in Toronto or London, though exchange rates can erode the savings.
A lot of the big vacation package companies can score you a good deal if you are just going to go sit on a beach someone. Even if you’re not, they sometimes run airfare specials on their charter flights if they haven’t filled the plane. Check with Apple Vacations, Vacation Express,, or whoever advertises in your newspaper. Keep in mind that many budget airlines now fly international routes to the Caribbean and Mexico. Check out Spirit, ATA, Frontier, and JetBlue. In Europe, the choices are even more extensive, so keep an eye out for deals from your own local airport.
To figure out which budget airlines serve a specific route–especially helpful in Europe, see WhichBudget.com.
Try these sites to map out historical airfare prices. That way you can see if your ticket price is in line with averages, or is a great deal. FareCompare, and Airfarewatchdog. They’ll also alert you to airfare drops from your own airport.
After all this, where are your actually sitting? See SeatGuru to find a good airline seat and avoid the bad ones.
But what are your chances of something going wrong? Check out the global safety assessment by the FAA at IATA Registry. Will your plane actually take off and land? See delays at the FAA site for today, or check more comprehensive reports at flightstats.com or flightexplorer.
If you fly enough to reach elite status with one airline check the right sites to find out how to upgrade to first class more often and get the most out of your loyalty. See FlyerTalk, the frequent flyer section of SmarterTravel, or pony up some dough and subscribe to First Class Flyer. Pay ExpertFlyer to give you an edge by tapping into the reservation systems travel agents use–with hidden fares and upgrades.
Want to stay in elite flyer club lounges around the world, without being an elite member of the airline’s program? Sign up for Priority Pass and spend your airport layover time in comfort and style.