In those days with ever rising prices, is it still possible to find cheap airline tickets online? The answer is a definite yes but you must first understand the booking and how the airlines sell their tickets.
Most online tickets purchased in the US and Europe are booked with one of four major GDS bookmarks (Global Distribution Systems): Amadeus, Saber, Galileo and Worldspan. These are run by the major airlines in the world.
Travel agencies and online travel websites use them almost exclusively to get their tickets.
If everyone uses virtually the same sources to get discounted airline tickets, you can expect prices to be very similar across the board. But in fact, there are major differences in pricing for flights on the same routes from place to place. Why would this be?
In my opinion, there are two main reasons for variations in the pricing of cheap airline tickets. They are:
Booking fees were introduced when airlines ceased paying commissions to travel agencies and low cost airlines for reselling tickets. The only way to make a profit was to charge an additional booking fee for each ticket sold. These fees are now common and vary a lot from website to website. These additional charges are not disclosed until you reach the last step of the booking process.
Consolidator Flight Prices are prices where an external agency, such as an online travel venue, has purchased a number of seats on a particular flight or airplane at a high discount and then sells those sites to the public with profit but still below the full market value that you normally expect to pay.
Consolidation prices are the best source of cheap airline tickets and are the reason for the biggest price differences over the net. They are most common in international flights, but are sometimes available on domestic routes.
When looking for cheap airline tickets, I recommend checking at least two or three discounted travel sites and perhaps some of the largest airlines.
You may already have a favorite website or websites. If so, start your search with them. I generally start my searches with Priceline.com followed by Hotwire.com, none of which take out booking fees, and finally I check CheapTickets.com. I have found that all three are good sources of cheap airline tickets. But always keep in mind no website will have the cheapest ticket every time.
If you come across a lot, do not hesitate to book it immediately! If you wait a long time, there may not be much when you come back. There are only so many cheap places on a particular flight.
Warning: Before you book cheap airline tickets, make sure you read and understand the terms of the ticket you buy. In particular, make sure you understand the cancellation clauses.
Penalties for changing or interrupting a flight ticket may be prohibitive. Also you should check for the number and length of stopovers, flight changes etc.
Another tactic that is well worth your consideration is a feature on Priceline.com called Name Your Own Price. This can be a huge moneysaver, but you have to do your homework first. Before doing anything with Priceline, you should have examined prices for the city or cities you intend to travel.
Once you have a good idea of what you should expect to pay for your flight, place a bid 20% to 40% below the lowest price you found. It is often possible to get a rock bottom deal with this method. But be aware that your credit card will be charged immediately if your bid is approved and you will not be able to cancel.
Booking early is always a good idea when it comes to finding the best discount ticket prices. But it is also true and a very often overlooked fact that a last minute booking can often give you a lot.
If you have to travel on a certain day or day, its obviously not a good idea to wait until the last minute to book your flight. But if you can be flexible with your travel plans, waiting for the last minute, you can often talk to a store that would otherwise have been unreachable.