* Airtran Airways
* Alaska Airlines
* Aloha Airlines
* American Airlines
* ATA Airlines
* Continental Airlines
* Delta Air Lines
* Frontier Airlines
* Hawaiian Airlines
* JetBlue Airways
* Midwest Airlines
* Northwest Airlines
* Southwest Airlines
* Spirit Airlines
* United Airlines
* US Airways
If you see a good fare to your destination, book it right away. Do not expect good fares to stay the same. Sale fare price in the beginning of the sale may not be the same as the one toward the end of that sale. Let's say you came to our site and saw your favorite airline having a big holiday sale. You found a good deal to your destination and the deadline is weeks away. At this point, you may think the price will stay the same all the way until the offer ends, right? You're probably thinking, it's a sale so the price will stay the same. Well, our experience tells the story that the price you saw is not guaranteed to stay the same. Let's hear a real testimony from one of our site visitors.
# Use off-peak flights and travel on week days. Lowest fares are usually found in mid-week days such as Tuesday or Wednesday when the traffic is light. This is because most leisure travelers like to get away on weekends. For example, departing Wednesday and returning on the following Wednesday may cost significantly less than Sunday-Sunday round trip. Off-hour flights such as late night or very early in the morning departure may also help. Also fare prices tend to go lower in off seasons. Typical off seasons are mid-January through March and October through mid-December except for thanksgiving weekend. During holiday periods fares are expensive. However you might be able to get a discount plane tickets if you fly on the holiday itself (e.g., Christmas Day).
# Use alternate airports and routings. In a large metropolitan area, the fare could depend on which airport you use for both departure and arrival. Make sure to include all the small local airports when you shop around. Some of these smaller airports are some times located conveniently closer to the metropolitan area. One such example is Midway vs O'Hare airports in Chicago area. So, to get the lowest fare, find out about alternate airports and routings and be flexible with your scheduling.
A few nights ago, Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, helped me bust the myth that Wednesday at midnight was the ideal time to buy plane tickets. Which led the Consumerist to throw down the gauntlet, demanding to know when the best time for ticket purchases actually IS.
Rick Seaney took their challenge. His answer, published in the Consumerist's hallowed electronic halls, includes a detailed primer on the technical side of how airlines actually post their fares for others to see. Definitely worth reading.
Rick's conclusion, though, is once again without a magic bullet. Shorter version: Get a feel for the historical price range for your desired itinerary and buy whenever it's cheap. Use fare alerts to keep on top of price drops. Pull the trigger when the price is in the comfort zone. Don't expect great deals more than 5 months before your flight date, or within two weeks of travel.
Rick astutely compares the price of airline tickets to the stock market. Like stocks, airfares run in a range, and they occasionally break to the downside — or the upside. If you're really out to get the lowest airfare, you may need to take a stock trader's perspective. (If anyone has figured out how to both buy low AND sell high in the air ticket market, let me know. Maybe the
compulsive gamblersrational market economists at Tradesports.com, who seem to find a market/wager for any kind of world event, can figure out a way to make side bets on airfare.)
Added advice from me, for the truly hardcore: Even if you've bought the ticket, don't stop tracking the fare. If your airline offers repricing or re-faring, stay on top of the fare trend and request a refund voucher if the price drops again. See my earlier post "The black art of repricing tickets."