Tips on searching for air tickets

Searching for that cheap air ticket for some rest and relaxation? With the multitude of booking sites out there, it’s sometimes hard to figure out which ones are the best to use.

I’ve found Kayak to still be the best and easiest tool for booking airfare. If you’re flexible, you can search to see whether flying from and to a nearby airport, as well as across a range of dates, yields better options. Kayak also has a deals map for those with no particular destination in mind. You simply plug in your origin, budget, the desired time frame, and any other criteria that you have in mind (beach or golf destination?). It will pull up round-trip economy fares Kayak users have found in the last 48 hours. The deals map provides you with a good idea of where you should go for your budget. Kayak does not pull up Southwest tickets, so you should always do one search on Kayak and another one on Southwest. I always prefer flying with Southwest as they do not charge change and baggage fees.

While Skyscanner does pull up pricing for Southwest, it is only an estimate. A recent search on Skycanner showed a Southwest ticket $10 more than it actually was on Southwest’s site.

ITA Software is another tool to use. While you cannot book through them, they are particularly useful in showing all possible combinations for international itineraries. A highlight is the fact that you can include train rides in your search. Say, for example, that your hotel in Cologne is right near the central rail station and you’d much rather take a train ride on Germany’s efficient and timely rail service than getting on another flight. ITA Software can pull up a Lufthansa ticket (air plus train combination) from San Francisco to Cologne’s main rail station, whereas Kayak only pulls up tickets going to and from Cologne airport. Once you have pulled up the ticket option, you simply book directly with the airline on their site.

However, you should still check with Kayak as ITA Software sometimes misses possible options. They failed to produce a $1138.52 KLM ticket from San Francisco to Cologne when I did a recent search. Google has recently acquired ITA Software so expect a new and improved site to be coming soon.

If you have a particular route in mind, sign up for Airfarewatchdog’s fare alerts. The fare alerts arriving in your email will alert you to deals for your route. While the ticket search for set dates still does not pull up Southwest tickets, if you’re flexible and only want to know fare deals from your city, it does pull up Southwest fares – a huge plus. Follow airfarewatchdog on Twitter for instant notifications of airfare deals. See my previous article on airlines to follow on Twitter.

Both Kayak and Bing travel have price predictions to help you determine whether a ticket’s price is likely to go up or down. Ticket prices can change in a minute so don’t delay if you find one that you like.

Have any strategies or favorite sites that you want to share? Send in a comment below.

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