Although oil prices have been on a downward trend, you may have noticed that the cost of airline tickets hasn't gone down as much. But even though cheap oil hasn't yet translated into cheap flights, it is possible to find great deals on air fares if you know the tricks to getting them. By savings on tickets, you'll have more money to spend on other things (think more food, drinks, gifts, souvenirs, savings and so on and so forth).
Why it's awesome: Even though Virgin America is no longer the best low-cost airline in North America, it remains one of most beloved carriers in the skies. The San Francisco-based boutique carrier offers the style and high-quality service expected from a Virgin-branded company, but with the competitive prices of a low-cost carrier. In 2016, the company was sold to Alaska Airlines for $2.6 billion. The brand is expected to disappear by 2019.
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Search flights from nearby airports. This is a very simple and effective trick to find cheap flights. Sometimes flights from local airport to your destination can be quite expensive while, on the contrary, flights from nearby airports can be really cheap. For example, international flights from Seattle are quite cheap when compared to international flights from Vancouver and the distance between the two cities is only 234 km (about a two and half hour drive). So driving or taking a bus to the nearby airport is sometimes a good way to get to your destination cheaply.
Another thing to note when you're booking your flight tickets online is to consider extra fees and "hidden" charges such as credit/debit card fees, baggage, meals, certain seats, extra leg room et cetera. Factor all these in before you compare between different airlines and flights before making the final purchase. Most online travel portals require you to pay via credit card, and may charge you a hefty credit card fee. But some sites also accept PayPal (including American Airlines website aa.com, Agoda.com, hotels.com). If you buy tickets directly from most airlines, you also won't be charge a credit card fee, and you should take those charges into consideration when choosing between booking through an airline website or other travel websites. Some online travel agencies let you pay via wire transfer from your bank account.
Our detailed how-to guide spells out how to find mistake fares easily on your own. Basically, AirFare Watchdog and Secret Flying are great resources to stalk for finding mistake and sale pricing as they conglomerate slashed ticket rates all in one spot. Another great approach is to search for flights for an entire month using Skyscanner (Tip #3 in this article). This will allow you to easily spot a significantly reduced fare against what's displayed that month, and has twice helped us stumble on error fares ourselves.
Spirit Airlines offer without question the most stripped-down, no-frills flying experience of any carrier in the country, with the simplest option open to travelers — the so-called "Bare Fare" — allowing just one personal item on-board the plane. And while all that frugality has earned the carrier just two stars from Skytrax, there's no question that it has also helped to keep fares low—really low! Expect to pay around 40% less than the average budget fare for all of America, saving plenty of dollars for the tables of Vegas or the sands of Cancun!
While the above search engines are great, they do not always include small airlines, especially in less popularly booked routes and/or in remote regions. If you're flying somewhere obscure, Google search and ask around if there exists a local airline. While in South America we learnt that the LADE Air in Argentina (run by the military) has cheap flights to Patagonia, which is of course not listed in mass search engines online.