Overview of Topic
For Additional Research
Discussion Group

Published by:
Washington Research Associates, Inc.
Washington, DC        



Get our free WEB SEARCH GUIDES sent to you each week by email! Your email address will NEVER be shared with any third party.

You will receive one new Guide by email each week. Upcoming topics are listed below!

Sponsored Links

Search Topic 35:

Cheap Airline Flights

Web Search Guides

by Joseph Ryan, Editor

I. Overview of Topic

Airfares, say most experts, have nowhere to go but up over the coming months, as the industry continues to consolidate. This will be doubly true if the price of jet fuel starts skyrocketing again.

All the more reason to develop an online strategy for finding not just cheap airline flights but the cheapest airline flights.

Over the past few years there's been a huge proliferation of price-comparison websites promising to find you cheap airline flights (cheap airfare tickets) within a couple clicks of your mouse. But there are two problems with using these cheap-ticket sites. One is simply that there are now so many of them you will need hours if not days of research just to get them sorted out and figure out which ones have the best deals for the kind of travel you're planning. The second problem is that, in truth, these sites often don't get you the best deals after all your work.

Of course for many trips, a site like may be just fine. It's probably not worth your time to do online research trying to cut thirty bucks off a flight from Cleveland to Detroit.

But if you're a true road warrior or if you're planning one or more expensive trips, there may be a lot of money to be saved by developing and following a good cheap airline flight research plan. Aside from the money, it's just not very pleasant to find the traveler next to you on a flight got her ticket for $400 less than you paid for yours!

Three-hundred-page books have been written on how to find cheap airline flights. But that may be information overkill. The basics are, well, pretty basic. First, there are some facts you need to know about airline ticket pricing in general. Then, second, you need to have a simple but effective research plan in mind when you're shopping for ultra- cheap airline flights.

Airline Ticket Pricing Pointers

  • The price printed on your ticket is no longer your total cost. Struggling airlines are now adding on every sort of hidden fee imaginable, from charges to preselect your seat to charges for pillows and blankets to charges for a third piece of luggage. Some are even charging to book your flight via their toll-free number. No charge to use the bathroom - yet. But you should always consider these fees when you calculate how much your ticket is really costing you.
  • There is no single magical website which will always get you the cheapest ticket. You have to research it a little bit (as further discussed below).
  • Flexibility in your travel plans is the most important factor in getting the best deal. Try to be flexible about time of day or week you travel, as well as about which airline or even airport you use.
  • Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are usually the cheapest days to travel. If you have to travel on a weekend, it's best to leave Friday and return early Monday morning. But other things equal, late-night departures are usually cheaper.
  • Third-party price-comparison and booking sites add service fees, so booking from the airline's website may be cheaper. Note that Southwest's fares are not listed on third-party sites.
  • Sometimes you can save money by arriving at one destination city and returning from another. This works best on international flights.
  • Sometimes it's cheaper to book a flight + hotel through one of the Big Two travel sites, Expedia and Travelocity.
  • Discount seats are usually "blacked out" during holiday periods. But you may be able to get a discount if you fly on the holiday itself.
  • Many airlines offer senior discounts, bereavement discounts, and emergency illness discounts.

How to Research Cheap Airline Flights

As said there are so many price-comparison sites out there nowadays it's hard to know where to start your research on cheap airline flights - most people wind up just sticking with one favorite, like or Expedia's FareCompare - but this is really a leap of faith. Such sites may provide the best price for your trip, or they may not. Following is a more thorough step-by-step approach to shopping for rock-bottom fares. Note I am picking a few sites I feel are good, but there are others just as good.

Step 1: Start with a megasite. I like myself. Here you'll have access to the airline's openly published fares. These are the fares that the airlines openly publicize and market. On Travelocity, just fill in the "From" and "To" fields, then click on "Flexible Dates" and then "Search Flights" -- this search will give you a list of the cheapest published rates. Have a notebook handy and write down the best deal or deals for your trip.

Step 2: Go to one of the discounted-fares sites. Try and check what they have to offer. If you find better deals than on Travelocity, write them down.

Step 3: Go to and get a list of consolidators. These are companies that buy seats in bulk and resell them, usually to travel agents but also occasionally to individuals. For a really cheap airline flight, you should try to book a month or more in advance with a consolidator, though sometimes last-minute seats are available. Sometimes these consolidators have the best prices to be found anywhere. A few reputable consolidators are (based in Salem OR), (based in Dallas TX), and (based in Los Angeles CA). Again, if you find the best deal so far, write it down.

Step 4: Go to and submit a bid in which you reduce the lowest fare you've found in Steps 1 - 3 above by 20%. Submitting to Priceline is fairly simple for airline tickets. Just enter your home city and destination, your preferred dates, and number of tickets needed. Then choose the airports you want. Priceline will get back to you by email within an hour, telling you if your bid has been accepted or not. If it has, you'll receive your tickets by priority mail, usually within a couple days.

If you follow the above four steps on every trip you're virtually sure to save a bunch of money on airfare.

That's it - our ten minutes are up! (OK, maybe twelve or thirteen). Below is a listing of Web resources to help you continue your research on cheap airline flights

II. For Additional Research

This Section provides reviews and recommendations of Web sites and other online resources


If you're planning a trip to London or Dubai from New York and want to go in style, here's something to look into. Silverjet is a British Airline that makes a specialization of style and comfort in the air at a price that's not prohibitive. You fly on a Boeing 767 fitted with 100 6'3" flat beds, you get freshly-cooked meals, a personal entertainment system, and a quiet environment in case you want to work or sleep. Plus, streamlined boarding and landing procedures. Pretty classy and comfortable way to get to London or Dubai, or back to New York from either of those cities.


My favorite among the three major travel sites - easiest-to-use and usually the best deals on cheap airline flights, hotels, car rental, last-minute deals, cruises, and even auto insurance.


Two new players in the international airline and travel arena are Lessno and Vayama. Lessno ("less money, no hassle") specializes in international air travel. The website was recently featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and several other major publications. The site offers extremely competitive International, Economy and Business fares. Worth looking into if you're planning a trip to Europe, Asia or South America.

Vayama bills itself as "not just another travel web site, but instead Vayama is a new (and fun) way to search and book international flights. Compare 100's of international airfares in one place." Vayama says it offers--

  • More international flights than any other website - 100+ airlines and 191 countries.
  • Save up to 63% on international flights
  • Offers international and domestic travel, but specializes in international
  • Interactive world map and innovative 3-D seat maps

Although I haven't used this site to book an international flight, I've looked it over and yes, indeed, their interactive world map is a great map tool and an excellent way to access a very wide selection of airlines, routes and fares.

Related Web Search Guides
Other Web Search Guides you may find useful:
Cruise Vacations
Researching Neighborhoods

Recommended Reading


III.Discussion Group


Have questions or thoughts to share regarding identity theft? Visit our Web Search Guides Discussion Group.

To suggest a Guide topic or to contact Joseph Ryan, Editor, click here.       


Disclaimer Statement. Web Search Guides is a service of Washington Research Associates, Inc. All information presented is for information purposes only and isn't intended to provide professional or legal advice. Advertisements are presented for information or marketing purposes only and Washington Research Associates Inc. makes no representations for any products or services that are promoted and accepts no responsibility for any actions or consequences that occur as a result of any purchases from advertisers.


Here are hundreds of online portals and directories to help you quickly and easily research the Web!
Click here.


Upcoming Web Search Guides:

Tax Software
Freeware and Shareware
Internet Security
Identity Theft
Blogging and Social Networking
News and Opinion
Games Online
Free Web Tools
Business Background Checks
Evaluating Doctors and Dentists
Online Medical Information
Government Guide
Buying Autos Online
Phone Services
Investment Sites
Phishing and Scams
Evaluating Nursing Homes
Summer Camps for Kids
The Hidden Web
Travel Info and Reservations
Evaluating Lawyers
Website Marketing
Genealogy Research
Starting an Online Business

Click here to suggest a topic.


Washington Research Associates, Inc
1250 Connecticut Ave., NW, Ste. 200
Washington, DC 20036

Email Us



(c) 2008 All Rights Reserved

10-Minute Web Search Guides - Copyright 2008 - Site Designs by PWA