Best online resource for airfares?

Going on a domestic flight in a couple of months. What is the best airfare site? How much in advance should I purchase it? Any tried and true tricks for lowest airfare? Easiest company to deal with? Better to deal with the airline companies directly?

Thanks in advance.

Opinions are best gathered in IMHO. Moved.


Here are the ones I’ve used:

Here’s the cheapest airline I’ve found for my routes:

Book about 3 months in advance for low fares. The closer you get to take-off, the more expensive they seem to get. Avoid long weekends.

Try these:

Most (all?) of the travel aggregator sites charge a few dollars more than the actual airline. Just use them to find the cheapest flight, then go to the airline’s page and purchase the ticket. You save $5-10 per ticket that way. If it seems like some site has a much lower price, they’re probably not showing you some tax or fees.

I’ve heard (no cite) that midweek 3-4 weeks before the flight is the best time get a deal. If the seats aren’t moving, they can be priced low. But you risk that they are popular, and that you’ll have to pay more or take a badly-timed flight.

My usual game plan is to use an aggregate site like or to get a feel for what the air fares and airlines are for the route I plan to take. Then I check the specific airlines’ websites, and lastly I check the low-cost airlines as they tend not to be on the aggregate sites. (AirTran for my current location.)

Hotwire does have a catch though: depending on how far in advance you are looking, Hotwire will show you neither the exact time nor airline until you have bought the ticket. (You know only the day, if it is a red-eye, rough amount of stops, and the cost.) However, if you know a bit about the route you’re planning and are flexible as to the exact time you fly out on a given day, you can use this to your advantage.

Here’s how I use Hotwire to my advantage when my flight times are flexible: I know from past experiences that if I book a ticket from Memphis, TN to Columbia, SC through them, 99% it is on US Airways, rarely United (and once Delta). So what I do is check Orbitz and Hotwire to see their prices, then I check US Airways and United. If it’s far enough ahead, there usually isn’t much (if any) of a price difference for the same ticket from the various sites. However, if I’ve waited too long and the fares have creeped up: Hotwire will normally still have the original fare price available. By compairing the results from Hotwire to US Airways, I can generally figure out which flight it is most likely to be and then I go ahead and book via Hotwire. So far, I’ve been right 85% of the time and have generally saved at least $150 per round-trip ticket.

I’ve generally found leaving in the middle of the week (which requries a weekend stay) to be the best for getting a low fare. (Middle of the week == Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. There’s a tendency for people to extend their weekends/vacations by taking either a Monday and/or Friday off.)

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Thanks for the sites guys - I’m travelling to the US next month and want to fly around a little - these sites are awesome :slight_smile:

ITA software. Best airfare site by far. Covers all airlines (Orbitz and Expedia etc. don’t always cover everyone), AND it tells you when the cheapest ticket is made up of two or more different airlines (not just code-share flights, either).

Plus it has a million different flexible ways to do massive searches with intricate details and variables (you’ll have to look into their help page or onto some air travel forums for details).

This is the first place I go for all ticket information and I travel by air a lot. You can not buy tickets directly from the site–it is informational only. But that also means you don’t have to pay them a fee.

Most travel agents and airline reservations agents I have talked to have never even heard of this site and are often surprised that I know of the odd, secret little bargains it has found.

You guys are the greatest, thank you.

I second the ITA suggestion.
I always go to ITA first.
Here is another site:
Airfare Watchdog
And Booking Buddy is a superior airfare comparison tool.
But I always go to ITA first.

Oh, wow, why have I never heard of ITA before?

Should have used that to book my next flight to DC, would have saved about $20. Well, now I know for next time.

Thanks, guys.

What are good indicators of having the option of being bumped? What increases your odds?

I’m waking this post up again to inquire how one is to book a flight that is arranged via ITA; especially the the multi flight/airline itineraries. Is a travel agent required to book the flight in the same way ITA presents it to you?