cheap airline ticketsJetting off on a long-awaited getaway is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but searching for affordable plane tickets is a serious chore. Here, we offer some must-try tips and tricks for scoring the best deals wherever you’re planning to go. 

Know When to Book

Depending on where you’re going, you’ll find some incredibly deep airline discounts if you know precisely when to search. Many airlines start their sales early in the week, so check for international flights on Tuesday or Wednesday. Carriers will have begun competing to offer the best deals by then, and you’ll likely be able to track down a few discount fares. Just be sure to book a too-good-to-be-true deal the minute you see it. There’s no guarantee it’ll return the following week.

Be Class Savvy

Economy is the cheapest way to fly, but spend a little time searching for first- and business-class fares as well. Though they’ll almost always be higher than economy prices, the extra perks you receive might just make up for the price hike. Some carriers offer flat beds and gourmet meals in their business-class sections, and if you book at the right time — or redeem the rewards from your AmEx Frequent Flyer program — you could find fares that are only slightly more expensive than same-flight economy tickets.

Get the Inside Scoop on Travel Cards

Credit cards are increasingly fantastic ways to travel on the cheap. Many offer bonus points when you spend a certain amount within your first year, and others provide an expansive rewards program that lets you earn travel perks for every purchase you make.

Compare Prices with Flight Aggregators

Sites like Bing Travel, Kayak and Vayama are indispensable resources when it comes to locating cheap plane tickets and comparing prices on current fares. Plus, the high-tech perks are beyond compare; Bing offers a future-price predictor for popular routes, and Kayak provides a low-fare calendar that lets you explore destinations based on the amount of money you’re able to spend.

Search for Hidden Fares

Online travel agencies like Hotwire often house hidden fares that are only visible in certain searches. You don’t need to spend hours scouring the site to track these down, however. Sign up for updates from a site like Airfare Watchdog, and you’ll get an email each time one of your chosen destinations dips below the standard fares. You can even personalize the types of updates you receive and when you receive them.

Sign Up for Airline Emails

Thanks to the proliferation of online agencies and fare aggregators, fewer travelers go straight to the source when they need to buy plane tickets. Don’t fall into this trap: Getting on the mailing list for a variety of international and domestic carriers is a great way to get early access to sales, discounts and package deals. Plus, some low-cost carriers only advertise fares on their own websites, so you’ll need to be in the loop in order to take advantage of their flights.

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