Searching for a cheap airline ticket is quite a test, and will prove to be difficult. It seems as if the number of websites who claim to have the cheapest tickets online keeps on growing every day - which obviously doesn't make the search for a ticket a whole lot easier. Nevertheless, booking a flight via the internet can turn out to be very cheap. There are basically two things you need when looking for the best offer online: a credit card and a lot of patience. On this page you can find a number of tips which can assist you during the booking process.
How to find the cheapest ticket
Flights to popular destinations are usually cheaper than flying into places that don't attract a large tourist audience. It could therefore be a good idea to fly into an airport that's a bit out of the way from your final destination. Simply take an overland bus or train to where you want to be from there; it could save you money in the end. Also, during peak seasons (Christmas, summer holidays) prices tend to go up, because airlines know they don't have to offer low fares to fill up all the seats on their airplanes. Be sure to stay on the lookout for air carrier sales periods though. During those times your can book your airline ticket for bargain prices. For student travelers: a number of airlines have special discount rates for students, you'll probably find the best rates there.
The best advice to give here is to start looking well in advance. The first seats on airplanes are usually sold for the cheapest price. So if you already have an idea on when you'd like to go: start looking around and decide early. Booking at the last possible time will lead to excessively high airfares or to finding that the flight is fully booked.
Don't limit yourself to departing from or arriving at just one single airport when looking for your airline ticket. Yet again: keep on looking around and check all the possibilities. It can be a lot cheaper to fly into or from another airport than you had in mind. Look around, and give all airports that are within a reachable distance a try.
It might also be a good idea, if you're booking a return ticket, to fly out of another airport than the one you flew into. For example, if you want to visit Central America, you can fly into Mexico City and fly out of San Jose (Costa Rica). If you book your flights at the same carrier it won't be much more expensive and it will save you the hassle of making an entire round trip through Central America.
Also maintain a flexible flying schedule. Don't just limit your search for a cheap airline ticket to fixed departure dates. Check the flights a few days around the date you'd like to fly. You might be amazed how much a difference a day can make. Flying on Tuesdays can be loads cheaper than flying on Sundays, for example. So, think beyond and look at all possibilities before buying your ticket.
Where to book
On the worldwide web, there are numerous websites that all claim to be able to book tickets for all flights worldwide at the lowest possible cost. Well, that's just not true. The database of ticket service websites may not list all airlines or may not have taken sales or discount fares into account, which might lead to paying a lot more than necessary. There are websites of the airlines themselves and websites that compare flights of "all" carriers, all of which can have their own prices, sales periods and actions. It can mess a bit with your head to see so many possibilities and out-of-sync data. According to a recent marketing research, the website that came out of the test most positively was Expedia, which might be a good starting point to start your airline ticket search.
To get the best overview of sales periods, it's best to visit the websites of the air carriers themselves. As said before, most comparing flights don't update their flight data to include those special prices.
Besides the world wide web, there are of course also travel agencies which have access to all flight databases. The major advantages of these are that you'll be talking to a person who knows what (s)he's doing, and might know the best air carrier or the best deal to pick. Travel agencies also often have access to a list of last-minute flights, which you'll be able to book for way reduced prices.
Round the world tickets
If your intention is to see a lot of the world, an excellent value way to do so is to book a round the world fare. This is a multi-leg plane ticket designed to let you fly around the globe in a single direction. Round the world tickets are usually associated with one of the major airline alliances, and allow you to fly on flights operated by any of the alliance partners.
The cost of an economy round the world ticket is roughly the same as, or even slightly cheaper than, an economy return ticket to a major city on the other side of the world. Round the world flights may be cheaper still if you accept a special deal with pre-chosen cities.
There are typically certain restrictions on round the world tickets:
A round the world ticket is usually valid for 12 months from the date of your initial departure. You can best get more information and buy these tickets at travel agencies and student travel agencies.
Discount airlines, also known as no-frills carriers or low cost carriers, are airlines that offer cheap flights. Obviously if you're in a region where discount airlines run, your best priced ticket is probably to be found there. Europe has a number of low cost airlines, the largest and most established being EasyJet and Ryanair. These airlines have stirred up air travel within Europe by dramatically cutting fares. Their websites regularly have incredible sale periods where you can get your ticket from as little as 1 Euro (taxes excluded that is). The advice again is to start looking around early, and if you come along a great deal: book it!!
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