In order to get the best deals on airline tickets you should plan to buy your ticket several months before your departure. Many airlines will offer discounted rates if tickets are purchased this far in advance. At a minimum, tickets should be purchased three weeks before your departure as this will also ensure superior seating. Another advantage of buying tickets early is that seasonal price increases will not affect you.
Flying on weekends is best avoided. It is far superior to leave during the week and ideally you should leave early in the week from Monday through Wednesday. Saturdays also often have cheap rates, so traveling on a weekend can work for you providing you do it differently than most people who are traveling just for the weekend. Typically, travelers can expect to pay an additional $40 on weekends if they are doing the standard Friday to Sunday trip. It is also essential to avoid travel during peak seasons. Peak travel seasons such as Christmas, or other holidays will not only delay your flight times and force you to confront crowds but also will cost you more.
Don't be afraid of the red eyes. You can save a lot if you're willing to travel the late-night route. Many of these flights are under bucked, and flights can be purchased at a significant discount. Another trick is to check standby fares. In many cases airlines will offer tickets and a great discount for flights that are under booked.
Another consideration is how long you plan to stay at your destination. Many airlines will give discounted prices assuming you stay at your destination for longer than a week, and return within a few months.
While many people believe the direct flights are the cheapest it is often cheaper to go to your final destination via connection hubs. You can save as much as $1000 when you are willing to take connecting flights. Using connecting flights is ideal for people who travel light and do not carry a lot of luggage.
There is a window of opportunity every Wednesday morning when airlines release information on their new fares and seating plans. If you are quick you can find the best prices at this time. Call for rates at 12:01.
The Internet is a huge boon for travelers as it gives us the luxury of seeing flight data from multiple vendors in a way that even travel agents and airline ticketing agents could not a decade ago. But understand that posted Internet prices are not always the cheapest. In many cases you can contact a travel agent to find better deals. You can also sometimes find discounts at the airlines by calling them directly rather than purchasing a ticket from and online aggregator. It also doesn't hurt to check newspapers as a sometimes you can find consolidators who by many tickets and can provide cheaper flights.
The most important thing is purchasing your tickets early. If you are buying last minute and in a rush you'll find that you often paid double to triple what you pay if you buy your tickets well in advance. Many sites like Expedia and Travelocity will list the best rates from all the airlines that offer flights from your current location to your final destination. It is important to use the services and compare them against each other. However, these services will often not have airfares well in advance when you can get the best deals. In these cases it is best to contact a travel agent directly and see what kind of deals they can get for you.