Image: Montreal to Zurich
Doug Bull
A Swiss airliner heads from Montreal to Zurich. Combining weekend fares on two different routes is often less expensive but will require that you make a connection.
Aviation.com
updated 10/2/2007 2:44:50 PM ET 2007-10-02T18:44:50

There are many ways to find low fares using the Internet. Here are 10 tips from Airfarewatchdog.com on how to find the lowest possible fare, no matter where you’re flying.

1. Don't assume
Think Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia and Sidestep all have the same fares? They don't. Especially on international fares, one of these online travel agencies could have a fare several hundreds less or higher than another. So check them all, and use multi-site search engines like Kayak, Sidestep, Qixo, and Booking Buddy.

2. Search airline sites individually
Some airlines have "private" sales, reserving their very best fares for their own sites, so you must check individual airline web sites as well.

3. Try a flexible fare search
If you're just looking for a bargain and don't care exactly when you travel, you can sometimes save hundreds by using the flexible dates features of major travel sites. Travelocity and Cheapair have good flexible search functionality for North American travel, and Orbitz is good for U.S. and international travel.

4. Combine weekend fares
Last-minute weekend fares are often great deals, but most people don't realize that they can construct itineraries by combining two of these fares (from New York to Atlanta and from Atlanta to San Antonio, for example, if a New York to San Antonio weekend fare isn't being offered).

5. Sign up for "Ding" alerts
Southwest offers daily "Ding" deals that pop up on your computer and can save you some cash.

6. Buy hotel-plus-air packages
It's often significantly cheaper to buy an air/hotel package or an air/rental car package rather than airfare alone. Lastminute.com (formerly Site59.com) is the online leader in providing cheaper-than-air-alone packages.

7. Log on Saturday morning
Airlines can only change fares around 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. So, if you're an airline fare analyst and you're trying to sneak one over your competition, you'll do it with the last fare change on Friday night, which appears in airfare search engines around midnight Friday. Your competition can't match your sale fares until the 5 p.m. Saturday update.

8. Check fares often
Because domestic airfares fluctuate like the stock market, you need to check them three times a day during the week, since that's how often they might change, if you're serious about saving money. Check them once on Saturday and Sunday (international fares are updated just once a day).

9. Combine two separate fares
It might be cheaper to buy a fare from the U.S. to, say, Frankfurt, and then a separate ticket on another airline from Frankfurt to, say, Istanbul rather than one fare from the U.S. straight through to Istanbul. This fare trick also works for flights to Asia and the Caribbean.

10. Get refunds on the difference
Let's say you've found the lowest fare, and then the day after purchase your non-refundable fare for the same itinerary, flights, and dates goes down. If you ask for it you can get a refund for the difference. But some airlines will charge you a costly "administrative" fee, wiping out any savings. Others will give you the entire fare difference without extracting a fee. These include Alaska, JetBlue, United and Southwest.

© 2013 Imaginova Corp.

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