Really Cheap Airline tickets - Where to find them online

The best trick to keep in mind when you are hunting for really cheap airline tickets is to make sure that you expand your search beyond the well known travel websites such as Priceline, Hotwire and Expedia. Often the cheapest airline tickets can only be found at the airline's own website.

For example, I normally find that Jet Blue or Spirit Airlines offer the cheapest airline tickets for my favorite destinations - Orlando and Las Vegas, but neither of those airlines have their prices listed at Expedia, Hotwire or any of the other consolidators. And those are just two of your options to consider. I've got plenty more for you.

Additionally, websites like Orbitz charge a booking fee and by using an airlines' own website to make your purchase you can save yourself $10-20 dollars on your tickets. This adds up if you travel a lot or are buying tickets for your whole family for that trip to Disney World.

Check the Major Travel Websites First

Then Book on the Airline's website

What I usually end up doing is check the major sites first and see what airfares and airlines they are quoting for, and then go visit the website for the cheapest airline and check their quote for the same dates. It is almost always at least a few bucks cheaper to book direct with the airlines and some of the airlines occasionally offer a one time discount for registering to purchase tickets on their website.

If there's a massive difference in the initial quote, just keep in mind that some quotes separate out the taxes from the actual airfare so be sure to add those figures together to get your actual cost. Many of the airlines add the taxes & fees on the confirmation page, while the large travel websites initial quotes are all-inclusive.

Use to search all of the major travel websites

Kayak is your best resource for finding the cheapest airfares offered across the full range of travel websites. You can search them all from just one website instead of having to open up new windows for Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, etc. And not only does Kayak search the major consolidators, but they also search individual airline sites, which means that you'll be able to catch the best online offers from the major airlines that are generally only offered at their own website.

Booking Buddy airfare comparison tool

Booking Buddy is another travel search engine which allows you to search multiple travel websites for airline, hotel and car rental deals. It is not as comprehensive as, but if you find the surfeit of information that gives you to be a bit overwhelming, then you should take Booking Buddy for a spin.

Booking Buddy allows you to select which travel websites you want to search for deals so you can simply bookmark their page and use it to search offers at Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Priceline and Travelocity as well as several other travel websites.

Students Fly even Cheaper

This one unfortunately is only for students, but I can't leave it out because if you're lucky enough to have a valid student i.d., then frequently you can get the cheapest tickets available, but you'd never find them on those other websites. You need to check with a student travel ticket broker to find these deals.

The top two student travel websites are:

Student Universe

STA Travel

Just remember, you must be a current student and have a valid student id to buy airfares at either of these websites. They do check.

Name Your Own Price on Priceline

If you're still not happy with any of the fares you are being quoted for your trip, then you might want to consider taking a gamble on the "Name Your Own Price" feature at Priceline. There are however a couple of things to keep in mind before deciding if using the Name Your Own Price feature is the best way to go.

  • The Name Your Own Bid feature does not included taxes and airport fees - for example, say you decide to bid $150 flying from New York to Los Angeles round-trip. If Priceline finds an airline that will accept your bid, they will charge your credit card $150 PLUS taxes and fees. For domestic flights within the continental US this isn't that big a deal. At the most, you might pay another $30 or so for your airfare. But if you are travelling from New York to London, taxes and fees may almost double your winning bid amount. So keep this in mind when setting your target bid. You'll be paying taxes and fees on top of that amount.
  • Your Credit Card will be charge immediately - Priceline isn't like bidding on Ebay. Before you even place your bid, you'll have to supply your credit or debit card number and if an airline accepts your bid, Priceline will charge your card immediately. You won't be offered the opportunity to turn down an unattractive flight or airline selection and you won't get a chance to think about it. Also, there are no refunds or cancellations allowed.
  • You could be flying at any time of day with multiple stops -- I've gotten pretty lucky getting non-stop flights using the Name Your Own bid feature, but there is no guarantee. Oftentimes the reason the airlines are willing to accept such low offers is because they can then put you on their flights with the lowest bookings. That means you can be flying at 6 o'clock in the morning or at 11 o'clock at night with a pit stop in Cleveland. This is usually fine if you are staying at your destination for several days, but if you are planning a short weekend in Vegas, you won't be happy if you arrive there after midnight and have to leave a day and half later at 6 in the morning.

With these caveats in mind, I love this Priceline feature and have used it frequently and gotten a variety of deals ranging from the stupendous to the so-so.

My last tip for using Name Your Own Price is to ignore the price guidelines that Priceline suggests in order to increase your chances of a winning bids. You can win your price with much lower bids than they suggest and if your first bid doesn't get accepted you can try again in a few days or you can change some of your options and increase your bid immediately. As far as I'm concerned, you should always BID LOW. I spent a night at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico for $75.00 in a room that goes for over $300 a night. So bid low.

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Comments 13 comments

Brian 9 years ago

Good pointers on Priceline. Never knew how they worked and I'm going to try them out first time tonight. Checked airline page direct, pretty sure I got the same offer from EVERYBODY (hotwire, expedia, travelocity) but the taxes are a tad tricky. Good advice, keep it up.

embitca profile image

embitca 9 years ago from Boston Author

Good luck with it, Brian, and thanks for the feedback. Hope you get a great deal!

Miss Donna profile image

Miss Donna 9 years ago

Great article, embitca~!

embitca profile image

embitca 9 years ago from Boston Author

Thanks, Miss Donna :)

Nancy Do 9 years ago

I want to buy the ticket from the London Heathrow to SFO buy online. How much

is it ? because some company booking very cheap it is 299 t0 415 pound. How about you ?

Thanks, you hae nice day


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 8 years ago from Texas

I thought I knew most of the good web sites to find these deals, but the student ones are new to me and that's good because I still have students to get back and forth to college.

ftclick profile image

ftclick 7 years ago

lots of good deal airfare websites. I like the ones which have all of them combined or a mix of them liek comparemyfare has a mix as does tripmama....what a funny name

JohnHenrylog profile image

JohnHenrylog 7 years ago from NY, NY

Whatever you do, don't fly on Airbus' most of the recent airline accidents/crashes happen on them.

Bob Ratcliff profile image

Bob Ratcliff 6 years ago from Florida

Excellent hub and well done, I just recently tested out Hotwire and had great results in Orlando, Florida off of International Drive. I stayed with my wife at the Rosen, 5 star hotel, for $69 night.

sue the airline profile image

sue the airline 6 years ago from New York, NY

also check out dealsnare, a new resource we came across and when we used it we got a $50 voucher to use the next time around.

jjmyles profile image

jjmyles 6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Great info! I have frequently used kayak and have gotten great prices. I do howver, book directly with Jet Blue when I"m going somewhere that they fly to.

Jeanne Crouse profile image

Jeanne Crouse 6 years ago from New England

Good information on finding cheap airfares. I always check kayak first to get ideas on the best pricing, routing and airlines that fly a specific route - and then check the individual airline sites for special sales.

Southwest is another airline that is not listed on the major internet airfare sites. For domestic US flights when you have to take luggage, Southwest's fares are often cheapest as they allow 2 checked bags for free. Other airlines charge up to $35 per checked bag and now Spirit is even charging for carry-on luggage... the fees can add substantially to the total cost.

A bit of a clarification - you mentioned Expedia, and Hotwire are "consolidators" - they are not. The major internet websites sell published airfares and through volume purchases are able to earn commissions paid by the airlines.

An airline consolidator has contracts directly with the airlines to purchase "excess" seating on flights - consolidators only sell international tickets and these are usually highly discounted compared to published air.

You'll notice that pricing, especially on Kayak, is mostly the same between all the internet sites. Published air pricing is the price - there are no discounts unless some company has a special promotion or wants to take a loss on the sale or has worked a special deal with an airline for a certain route. The differences in the websites are the fees charged for purchasing a ticket and the level of customer service if there's a problem.

As far as I know, Kayak does not include searches from real airline consolidators - their prices for international flights can range from $20-30 to $100+ less than published air pricing for the same flights.

CONNIE 4 years ago

Be careful if you purchase on hotwire, they airline company treats you like garbage. You can not even purchase a seat on Delta until you arrive at the gate, and then the seats are all sold out and you can not even sit close together with your family. I purchased 3 tickets, with hotwire, one for myself and two kids, I was unable to get seats together, which is rediculous traveling with children, I paid $450 per ticket to Flint to Fort Myers which was not cheap, and I am a skymiles member. Sad that airlines treat passengers so poorly anymore. We pay more and get less. So the point is if you want to travel together, be careful of using this booking method.

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