Book your flight as soon as you decide on travel plans. Airlines give discounts for reservations made at least 3 weeks in advance. The best rates often include a Saturday night stay and have travel dates during the work week.
Shop at the many online travel agents to compare the rates of many different airlines. Be sure to check at least 3 different sites, as each may have a different alotment of tickets, and service fees can also vary.
Be flexible about when you travel, since even changing the flight time on the same day can effect the reservation rate. Unpopular early morning or late evening flights tend to have lower rates. Also, try to avoid peak travel season, summer, spring break, and Christmas and New Years. The cheapest fares tend to be found during the off season and at other times when planes are filled below capacity.
If travelling to a large city, Check the fares for any nearby smaller airports, as it might be cheaper to fly into a neighboring city. Remember to allow for other costs when you considering this option, such as rental car or taxi fares. This might also extend travel time.
In some instances, splitting the trip with stopovers my bring savings. However, be sure the savings are large enough to justify the extra trouble of the stopover.
Look into booking your travel plans as a package deal. Sometimes it is possible to save money by reserving a hotel room and a rental car along with the airline ticket. If you are going on a cruise, ask the cruise company if they are affiliated with any airline. Some credit card companies also have discount agreements with some airlines. The reverse is also true : many airlines have agreements with hotel chains and rental car companies that can save you money on other travel expenses.
When dealing with a live travel agent, ask if this is the best rate that they have available or if there are any specials offering essentially the same itinerary when you are booking your reservation.
Apply any special discount programs for which you are eligible. Students age 16 to 26 are can get special discounts, and seniors may be able to get discounted fares through the AARP.
Belonging to, or travelling with a group, may get you a better deal on airline reservations. If you are a member of a club or service association, check whether they have a travel plan. If travelling with a group, ask for a group discount. Discounts are often available for government, military or corporate employees. Often, airlines will even extend these discounts even for non-business travel.
In the case of large groups, it is sometimes cheaper to charter a plane than reserve individual seats. This may save time as well as money, since the charter airplane will accommodate your schedule, and baggage can be managed for the entire group, with much less chance of loss of luggage.
When you reach check-in at the airport, ask if any special upgrade deals are available. Sometimes it is possible to upgrade to first class at a nominal fee, and this is definitely worth it on long flights due to the larger seats and extra leg room.