After you've booked that cruise or planned that vacation, you still need to arrange air travel (unless you have a travel agent or you're driving to the port). And chances are you'll take more than one flight during the year.
Join the crowd: This marks the 10th straight year of robust growth in air travel worldwide.
So how do you find the best airline ticket deals online? Notice I said the best, which isn't always the same as the cheapest. It just takes a little extra effort for you to come away with quality airline tickets on a reputable carrier (for example, here are some good options on Aeromexico).
Take the following steps and you'll be on your way — and won't have to worry about it until your travel day arrives.
What’s your budget?
1Before going forward and checking out deals from the various airlines or metasearch engines like Orbitz, you need to know your budget. Set a budget range and ask yourself if you're willing to spend a little extra for a better deal — the best value for your travel buck. For instance, most travelers would jump at the chance to pony up a few extra dollars if they'd be able to upgrade to a first-class instead of economy coach. By knowing the range you have to work with, you'll be able to score a better deal not only in terms of price but also in terms of what you get in return.
Use Incognito mode
2Here's a tip you likely won't find elsewhere. While it may be convenient to have your search history stored in your web browser, you'll often find more intriguing deals — which aren't personalized for you based on your browsing history — if you go anonymous when you're searching online for the best deals.
Compare prices & amenities at multiple sites
3Sometimes, one and done is all you need if you hit upon the right flight dates at the right price. But when searching for travel deals online, chances are you'll be able to come across specials and reduced fares for the same flight at different sites. For instance, airlines typically offer better prices for flights departing on certain days of the week. So do your homework and use a travel fare aggregator like Hipmunk or my own site Faremart to compare prices and itinerary options side by side. The more flexible you are with your travel dates, the better chance you have of scoring some savings. Just make sure you're comparing oranges to oranges.
Check out the available seats
4You don't really want a middle seat for that cross-country flight, do you? Not all seats let you spread out a bit, and some of the ones in the rear may not recline. So take charge of your seat arrangements. Many passengers prefer front row seats or exit row seats while others prefer aisle or window seats. If the online booking site doesn't give you the option to reserve specific seats, reach out to your travel agent and set a reminder to get this done well in advance. SmarterTravel offers these 10 ways to get a better airline seat.
Use reward miles or tap into a loyalty program
5Most people have a preferred airline. Maybe you use a dedicated credit card or have reward points attached to an airline consortium like Star Alliance, whose partners include United, SAS, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand and several others. Many airlines let you apply frequent flyer or reward miles that you've racked up. If you haven't joined the loyalty program of the airlines you often fly with, be sure to do so before your trip — you're missing out on perks and price breaks by not participating.
Consider a vacation package
6At times, trying to manage everything on your own can be a headache. Moreover, the risk of messing things up is also higher when you try to organize your tour yourself instead of using a travel agent. You should know that the agent gets a small commission when she books your flight with an airline or a hotel or arranges your travel insurance, but the money doesn't come out of your pocket. Just make sure it's a reputable agency or tourism company that's looking after your interests.
Take advantage of your network
7At times, we can look around a lot of places and sites to get the best possible deals and ignore our own circle of friends and colleagues. That happened to me recently when I'd forgotten that an acquaintance owns a travel agency and he was able to secure a great travel package for me. If you do reach out to your online or offline network, ask your friends and relatives if they know of anyone in their networks who can help you get the ticket at the best possible price.
The bottom line
I see a of travelers visiting my nation of India, and as soon as they arrive at the airport their mood often depends on what kind of flight they chose. If they had a miserable flight, it sets them off on the wrong foot, but if the flight was comfortable they'll be happy right from the start.
If you follow the tips above and give some extra effort in getting the best airline deal, you're likely to have a great trip. Do you find any of my tips useful? If so, do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.