How to Find the Cheapest Airline Ticket Price Available

August 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Finding the cheapest airline ticket price can be a bit of a crapshoot. I was talking to a friend who says he subscribes to Airfare Watchdog as a service. A few months ago, he saw a ticket price from Orlando to Las Vegas for $118, so he marked it to keep an eye on it.

He said that he has never seen that price again, and only sees ticket prices for $185, regardless of the airline. But the $118 has disappeared forever.

Now, $185 is a good price for a flight to Vegas. After all, you’re asking a company to transport you nearly 2500 miles in a couple hours, and you’re worried about $67? You couldn’t make the drive to Vegas for $185, so that’s even a good deal.

But still, when you want to take four people for that price, you’re looking at a $740 price tag, which starts to get pricey. So how do you make sure you get the cheapest tickets you can? Here are a few tips to try.

1. Use a Credit Card with Travel Points

United Airlines sometimes offers the cheapest airline ticket prices, but you have to know how to find them.My friend travels enough and uses a dedicated credit card enough that he’s able to take an annual honeymoon with the points he’s accumulated. He uses this credit card for everything, and then pays it off each month, which really racks up the points. When it comes time to buy his tickets, he’s accumulated enough points that his tickets are often free.

Get a credit card that accumulates travel points, like a Chase Visa or American Express Gold (they partner with Delta and accumulate miles) and use it for day-to-day buying. Pay your bills with your credit card, and then pay it off each month. Get a card that’s branded with your favorite airline, and you can sometimes get additional points when you buy certain items.

2. Subscribe to a fare watch service

There are apps and services like Momondo, Thrifty Traveler, and Hopper, which can track places you want to visit, or send you special deal alerts for different destinations.

In some cases, you have to be ready to buy at that moment, for others, you have to be ready to leave that weekend. You can also use Google Flights to monitor a specific destination and fluctuating ticket prices.

Google Flights and Momondo will both tell you whether the price is the best one available, based on historical data. Hopper uses historical data and current ticket prices to create a calendar of best and worst times to fly. And Thrifty Traveler will tell you when there’s a serious deal you should consider, even if it wasn’t originally on your itinerary, so be open to new options.

3. Book Early

The closer you get to your departure date, the higher the price gets.

That’s as simple as I can make it. Buy your tickets as soon as you decide to go.

4. Be Flexible on Dates

Friday departures cost more than Wednesday departures. It costs more to fly on Sunday than Monday. And your mid-week trip will cost less if you travel on Saturday instead of Friday. (Making the case for a nice bleisure trip if you’re traveling for business.)

When you need the cheapest airline ticket, select the flexible travel dates option on your website. It will show you the cheapest prices which may offer you some unusual travel times. You may be flying out at 5:30 in the morning or late at night. You may go a day earlier than you wanted or leave a day later than you hoped. Either way, if you need to save money, then don’t lock in your travel dates until you know when you’ll be flying.

5. Buy Immediately!

This last one is an important one. Don’t start researching ticket prices until you’re ready to buy. My friend said he saw the $118 ticket price, and he could have bought it, but instead he saved it for later, and the price “disappeared.” It’s not going to be back either, because that was a one-time special offer.

It may show up if he checks in again anonymously (more on that in a minute), but because these websites use cookies and keep track of your IP address, they know that you’re already interested in a fare to that location, and so they may hide the “enticement price” in the future.

So if you need to do some research, you can Google a destination — “how much are airline tickets to Las Vegas?” — and get a budgetary figure, but if you find a low ticket price, buy it immediately. Don’t wait until you’re closer to the date, don’t put it off until you feel less worried. If you need to save $268 on four tickets to Vegas, buy them as soon as you see them.

And if you already peeked, and need to “reset” your cookies, there are a few things you can try:

  1. Clear your cookies. Go into your browser preferences and delete your cookies. This will delete everything like saved passwords, login information, website preferences, and so on, but the travel websites won’t recognize you. Probably.
  2. Do an Incognito or Private search. In your browser, go to the New window, and look for the Private/Incognito setting. This is a new window that works like you completely wiped your browser, and when you close it, nothing will be saved. That means you can visit a website “for the first time” every time.
  3. Use a VPN. A Virtual Private Network is a piece of software that actually directs your web browser to another server before going out and visiting whichever website you choose. So while you sit in Columbus, Ohio, you can make it look like you’re sitting in St. Louis or Houston. This will disguise your location from the website, and they won’t know your individual location.

How do you find your cheap airline ticket prices? What’s your favorite service or method? Share your tips and tricks on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Cliff/United Airlines (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)


Erik Deckers is a travel writer, as well as a content marketer and book author. He is the co-author of Branding Yourself, No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine. Erik has been blogging since 1997, and has been a newspaper humor columnist for over 20 years

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