One of the main reasons people hesitate to travel is the expense - and, airfare is often one of the most significant factors, which is why I'm often asked, "How do you find the cheapest airfare?"
Unfortunately, there is no one "magic trick" to doing so. It does take a lot of work, and knowledge of how the system works too, but these tips can help you score a better price on airfare.
Book Well In Advance
If you try to book your flight at the eleventh hour, it's going to cost you a lot more, there's just no way around it. Flights are the priciest within two weeks of the date you plan to fly, but it’s usually better to book well in advance of that, especially if you're going to travel internationally. At the same time, you can't book too far ahead either. The "sweet spot," if you will, generally falls between six and eight weeks of the date you plan to travel, for domestic flights. It's a little more complicated for international flights - for Europe, booking 4 to 5 months out, and if you plan to go to Asia, Africa, the Middle East or the Pacific, the ideal time to book is typically 6 to 9 months in advance.
Cheaper Times of the Year to Travel
The price also depends on what time of the year you plan to travel, and if it falls around a holiday. If you want to fly during a holiday period, you’ll often need to book your airfare even further in advance, and you're unlikely to find a bargain.
Flying to the Caribbean can be pricey during the winter, as that's when everyone in colder climates wants to make an escape, but if you go in the summer, or during hurricane season, it's a whole lot cheaper. In most places around the world, however, summer is the most expensive time for airfare and accommodation. Do some research to find out the peak, shoulder and low season for your desired destination - airfare is typically cheapest during the low season, followed by the shoulder and peak season.
The Best Flight Search Engine
Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no one flight search engine that is always going to give you the best price. That means that it's going to take some time to score the lowest airfare. You’ll need to search a number of different sites, every day, and even at various times of the day, if possible. Start by researching airfare on the major sites, like Travelocity, Google Flights, Kayak and Skyscanner, so that you'll have an idea as to what the "typical" airfare might be. Then compare those airfares to the same flights on the airlines' websites - there are some that guarantee the lowest fares if you purchase directly.
You may need to check airfare directly for low cost, budget airlines, as they often aren't included in those travel search engines, such as Frontier, Southwest and Spirit Airlines in the U.S., and European budget airlines like Ryanair, Easyjet and Norwegian Air. Just remember that many of these airlines, while offering much lower airfare, not only come with few frills but often require all sorts of fees in addition to the cost of the flight. You might have to pay for to get a seat assignment, or to check your bags, for example - some even have fees for carry-ons these days. That means it's essential to total up all of the costs before comparing to the other airlines to be sure you're getting the best deal.
The key to all of this is really time - you need to make the time and effort if you're hoping for the lowest possible price.