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10 Insider Tips For Getting Cheap Flight Deals

By Nancy Schretter, Editor

Airfares can be one of the biggest costs in any family’s vacation budget, but many experts know hidden ways of finding the lowest cost flights. A little research can easily save hundreds of dollars per ticket. Getting an amazing airfare deal can often make the difference between taking the family vacation of your dreams or settling for a less exciting family travel option closer to home.

If you’re looking for a fantastic airfare deal for your next family vacation, here are ten insider tips for finding great cheap flights:

  1. Check These Flight Search Sites.If you’re looking for the lowest price airfares, check out sites known for yielding low prices such as Matrix Airfare Search, Google Flights, Skyscanner.com, Momondo.com, Kayak.com, AirfareWatchdog.com, Priceline.com, JetRadar.com, Cheapoair.com and FareCompare.com. Compare any prices you find to fares available directly through the airlines. If the fares are the same, book directly through the airlines. It’s also helpful to consult with experienced travel agents. They can often find excellent fares and can assist you with the rest of your trip as well.

  2. Sign Up For Newsletters.Newsletters can be a great source of information on short–term low fares, flight deals and airfare sales. If you’re searching for cheap international airfares, check out Scott's Cheap Flights at scottscheapflights.com. The site sends out free bulletins multiple times a week with incredible airfare steals, like New York City to Copenhagen for $397 round–trip, Atlanta to Milan for $417 round–trip or Philadelphia to Quito for $328 round–trip. The site’s subscription service provides alerts on even better deals. TravelZoo.com also sends out newsletters with great domestic and international airfare deals. It’s also wise to sign up for airline newsletters and watch for their sales by following them on Twitter.

  3. Get Flight Alerts.Looking for cheap airfares on a specific route and have several weeks to shop? Register for flight alerts on Airfarewatchdog.com, Kayak.com, Yapta.com and FareCompare.com. These sites will notify you when flight prices for your itinerary drop substantially. If you have bucket list travel dreams just waiting for low airfares, sign up for multiple flight alerts.

  4. Try Using Flexible Dates.If you’re considering several different dates for your family vacation or cruise, check the flight costs for all options before booking. In addition, consider arriving a day or two before your cruise or leaving later in order to save on airfares. Arriving at your embarkation port a day before your cruise is strongly suggested to avoid missing the ship and other potential problems caused by cancellations and flight delays.

  5. Fly On The Cheapest Days.Typically, the cheapest flights can be found on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you have some flexibility, check flight costs on these days and compare them with any other travel dates you have in mind.

  6. Include Alternate Airports.Consider driving to an alternative airport, especially if it is served by a low–fare airline. A one–hour drive can often deliver savings of several hundred dollars per ticket, making your dream vacation suddenly affordable. Examples of alternative airports might include checking flights to/from Baltimore/Washington International airport in addition to Washington Reagan and Washington Dulles or Fort Lauderdale in addition to Miami. If a major international airport is within a low–cost bus or train ride, it might be worth checking on flight prices from that airport as well.

  7. Test One–Way Ticket Prices.Sometimes cheaper deals can be found by searching for two one–way tickets instead of for a round–trip flight. The lowest cost, best route option may be on two separate airlines. Try it and see what your flight search sites deliver.

  8. Consider Low–Fare Airlines.Low cost airlines such as Frontier, Spirit, WOW air and Norwegian can offer some incredible deals on flights, particularly during their sales. Be aware that these low–fare airlines typically charge for "extras" such as seat reservations, checked and carry–on luggage and other items. Advertised cheap fares typically cover only the most basic service on these carriers, which is great if that’s all your family needs. When you’re comparing flight options, make sure to compare the total cost of flying on these airlines with fares offered by other major carriers. Southwest Airlines offers a number of "extras" free of charge, such as two checked bags and no change fees. Southwest’s flights and prices do not show up on most airfare sites, so make sure to check out their fares at Southwest.com before booking alternatives.

  9. Consult With A Travel Agent.Travel agents are experts at finding the best airfares and can also be extremely helpful during your trip, especially if something goes wrong. Once you’ve done your research and determined your best options, check with a top travel agent to see what they can do. They may have access to special fares that are not available to the public.

  10. Use Points When You Can.If you’ve been collecting lots of air miles points through credit card usage and other sources, now might be a good time to use them. Make a list of which airlines will take your points, note the conversion rate and then check to see how many points are needed for your flights. It helps to be flexible with dates and book your mileage flights as far in advance as possible.

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