How to Book Cheap Airline Tickets and Last-Minute Flights Online

Book Those Fares

Thanks to the internet, there are dozens of websites and online resources that can help you snag cheap airline tickets or grab bargain last-minute fare deals. Below are 15 resources to consider the next time you're looking for airfare bargains.

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    Hopper
    ••• Hopper

     The Hopper iPhone app uses data-driven research to help travelers make better decisions about where to go, and when to fly and buy. After entering in your information, the app predicts price changes and tells you the best time to book a flight, adding it can save travelers up to 40 percent. 

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    Founded in 2010 and based in San Francisco, Hipmunk claims to offer customers the fastest, easiest way to plan travel. The site and mobile apps quickly compare top travel sites, using a unique display that makes it easy to visually compare results and choose the best rates. Hipmunk covers travel options ranging from commercial flights to trains to charter flights. 

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    This global travel search site allows travelers to find and compare the best prices on flights and travel deals via searches across leading providers and travel sites. It breaks things down based on cheapest departure and arrival dates, the best balance between price and flight time. It also shows how factors such as days to departure and seasonality can affect fare prices. Once a fare is ready for booking, Momondo directs the buyer to the relevant company. 

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    This website allows travelers to receive fare alerts by email when there are price changes based on city-to-city, departure city and arrival city.  It boasts of having a team of travel experts that search through thousands of airfares to offer travelers the best prices.

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    Skyscanner-jpg.jpg
    ••• Image courtesy of Skyscanner

    This website and app allow travelers to look at fares by day, by week, by month or by year, with the results, by fare ranges published via a handy chart or by a calendar view. Once you choose a flight, you can book it or sign up for fare alerts in case they drop, which is a handy feature.

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    ••• Stockbyte / Royalty-free

    The website offers discounted rates on flights, hotels, tours, groups and more for students and youth via special low rates it negotiates through contracts with dozens of travel partners and more than 70 airlines.  Users can use flexible date search options, seeing when cheaper options are available; filtering options by time, price, airline or by student and youth deals; and trip details in-application, including for previously booked itineraries.

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    FareCompare updates its fares constantly. You can also search for the best First Class airfares as well. How is it different from other sites? "FareCompare gets the raw fare data from the airlines directly and we process it several hours before it is available on the online travel agencies and many times the airline sites themselves."
     

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    Kayak Pro - Great Travel Apps
    ••• Kayak
    Kayak maintains a fairly comprehensive list of current airfare and vacation deals. It has a simple, user-friendly interface and scours dozens of sites for the best airfares.

    What I like about the site is that it is easy to use, and the vacation deals they find are often really good - like nearly 2 weeks in Thailand from the US including hotel / tours / flights and many meals starting at $1200 per person.
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  • 09 of 15
    Fly Cheapo details current airfare deals in Europe. Great place to find good prices for travel within Europe.

    The choices can get overwhelming, and the site does send you to the low cost airline's site to book. What I like about the site is that it can help you find who flies where fast, and gives you a list (and links to the budget / low cost airlines that fly the route).
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    A collection of current deals for family travel is compiled by the Family Travel Network. The site doesn't just look at flights, but experiences the family may enjoy and provides any promo codes that may apply as well as the link for booking. The only downside is that sometimes expired deals seem to remain on the site for weeks or months.

    What I like about the site is the variety of family offers, often with hotel / air included.
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    Orbitz often has the lowest airfares you could find. They also are pretty good at alerting you to specials right on their front page, and for things like hotels provide a really decent range of hotels at different price points and ratings.

    What I like about the site is their price guarantee - it's really solid. "Get a Price Assurance refund if another Orbitz customer books the same flight for less." I also think this policy is truly customer-friendly - "Cancel a ticket online without airline penalties by 10 p.m. CT the next day."
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    A huge online booking site. Lots of Hot Deals on flights listed, and updated daily. The site has the feel of an expansive travel agency - so many options to think of, deals to look at, and places to consider.

    What I like about the site is the sheer variety of flight, vacation, and deal options. It can spur the travel imagination!
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    Deals are to be had here. Lots of great last minute airfares. Solid choice of vacation packages and other specials too.

    What I like about the site are things like their top deals of the day and top 20 airfares which seem like they were chosen after comparing what is out there. Feels like a lot of the leg work is done for you.
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    I have mixed feelings about Vayama - on the one hand they often track down amazing airfare deals and on the other those same deals are often gone when you try to book them. So if you hit - great deal. If you miss - a bit frustrating.

    What I like about the site is its focus on international travel, and several times when I've checked they are able to quote fares that are lower than many of the other big sites out there.
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    What I like about the site is Yapta tracks airfare price drops and also advises on getting a refund on the difference of your ticket if prices drop. Note that airfare price drops don't always = refund as there has to be availability for your travel dates to have a chance at securing a refund of the price difference.