Finding cheap student airfare is complex.
Student airfare discounts can often seem to be varied, but most websites claiming to offer student discount airfare really offer the exact same thing: a fare search engine run by the same company. Enter your departure and destination cities and the search engine will return a number of itinerary and price options -- often exactly the same to every other site.
Those aren't the kind of sites I'm recommending in this article.
Below is a list of websites that do truly cater to student travelers, who are looking for the best student airfare deals. Keep in mind that for some of these sites, you may have to provide proof that you're a student in order to get the very best student airfares, but some don't require proof of identification.
STA Travel is the world's largest student travel agency, and should undoubtedly be your first port of call. They have a great, user-friendly search engine and plenty of resources for heading out on the road for the first time. Check out STA's weekly student airfare deals, too. This is the first place I head if I'm looking for student fares, and typically where I'll find the cheapest fares.
Student Universe is a another great student airfare finder that I highly recommend checking out. Student Universe's motto is: "Students Fly Cheaper", and they live up to that claim.
Student Universe is no fly-by-night affair; the company is registered with the Better Business Bureau and has thousands of testimonials to its service. You must sign up to use their service, but sign up is free and the site is worth taking the time to do so.
The website includes this caveat: "Only college students and faculty can buy Student Airfares.
You have to be a student or faculty member to qualify for Student Airfares. A Student Airfare is an airline ticket that can only be purchased by students or faculty verified by StudentUniverse." This means that Student Universe will check to see that you are indeed a student and therefore eligible for student airfares; your enrolment status is verified through your school via email. Don't worry, though -- this is easy to set up and quick to get approved.
A huge bonus from booking with Student Universe is that their advertised discount student airfare prices include all fees and taxes, so there won't be any nasty surprises when you go to check out!
A Canadian-based student travel agency, Travel Cuts has some unique features besides the usual flight finder. On the site, you'll find links to adventure tours for students, and an easy-to-use festival and event search engine. You could select life-changing events like Kenya's annual Rhino Charge into your itinerary before you leave in order to make sure you don't miss out.
Travel Cuts also offer some fantastic details on more than flights, so it's definitely worth having a click around their site. For example, students can currently score a 10% discount on G Adventures tours, a 10% discount on Contiki Trips, and gain a $10 discount on Busabout rides.
CheapOair Student Fares
Another site to check out when researching student airfare is CheapOair. They have a special section on their site just for student travelers, and you can often pick up a sweet deal there that would be tough to track down elsewhere. When you enter in your destination and dates, remember to tick the box that says youth (16-25) to get your discount.
Go With Generation Fly
Lufthansa operates Generation Fly, which guarantees the lowest possible student travel airfares on any of their flights. The program is for U.S. students aged 12-25 with a valid .edu email address. Lufthansa flies to 81 countries, but you'll gain the most benefit from this site if you're looking to fly to Europe, where the majority of their routes take you.
Secret Flying isn't specifically for students, but it is one of the best-kept secrets of the travel industry.
It's perfect for if you're open to when and where you travel, as every day the site lists fantastic deals on flights around the world. Some recent deals from the United States include: San Francisco to Barcelona for $472 round trip; Boston to Xi'an for $474 round trip; Seattle to London and Reykjavik for $338 round trip; and Boston to Aruba for $174 round trip.
Sign up for Secret Flying's email alerts or check their site every couple of days for new deals, and keep your options open! It's one of the easiest ways to pick up a flight for far cheaper than even a student fare would get you.
This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.