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Ready to take off on an adventure? While there are tons of websites to book flights on, certain ones are better for scoring the best travel deals. To help steer you in the right direction, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about booking the best flight deals from the likes of Google Flights, Expedia, Kayak or directly with an airline.
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With prices of flights going up, you should start looking for flights as soon as you have travel dates picked out. Whether you’re traveling internationally or domestic, there are many websites to help you compare flight costs to get you started. Google Flights and Kayak are ideal for looking at a wider view of flight prices across multiple airlines and they will send you to the website that offers the cheapest fare. This differs from Expedia, which is an online travel agency (OTA) that books flight reservations under the OTA, not directly through the airline. If you’re looking to save on your next flight, keep reading for the best flight deals using popular travel websites.
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The best flight deals right now
Using Expedia to book flights has multiple advantages including scoring packaged deals and the ability to earn multiple rewards points. The Expedia rewards program is a great way to access exclusive prices for flights that can be discounted by an extra 10%. In addition to finding low flight prices, members can also stack rewards to earn Expedia rewards points, airline miles and eligible credit card points. You can browse flight deals by month or flight deals under $200. For example, you can fly one-way from Los Angeles to Honolulu in April for as low as $117 a ticket right now.
One downside of booking with OTAs is that all cancellations or changes have to be done through the OTA, not directly with the airline. Expedia is one of the larger OTAs but contacting customer service for last-minute changes can still differ from working directly with airlines. However, Expedia outlines their policies before you book your flight so you know what you’re getting. Expedia is easy to use for booking flights and you can score solid discounts and point stacking when you join the free rewards program.
Kayak is an airfare search engine that will find you the best prices on flights across the web. Once you pick your flight, you’ll have options for different reservation websites including directly with the airline, Expedia, Orbitz or other smaller OTAs. If you’re booking with an OTA, make sure you note the changes and cancellations policies of the website before booking.
To help you track and find deals, Kayak has a price alert setting where you can set up email alerts when fares change for specific travel dates and destinations. When searching for a flight, Kayak displays a mini calendar that depicts certain days as green, yellow or red to recommend when flights are cheaper versus expensive. The homepage for Kayak flights will show you current low fares on popular routes for easy access to savings. For instance, you can book a one-way flight from Miami to New York LaGuardia for $42 in the last week of April. Kayak has all the bells and whistles you need to do some serious price tracking to score cheap flights year-round.
Google Flights is a straightforward search engine you can use for finding affordable flights. The homepage will display low fares from your current location, as well as a map of the U.S. with cheaper routes available. When you find a flight option you want, Google Flights will pass you on to book directly with the airline carrier to purchase the ticket honoring the price reflected from Google Flights.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly vacation with flexible dates, you can use the “explore” page to find affordable flights on routes all around the world with a larger travel window. Using Google Flights, you can get a one-way flight from Houston to Mexico City in early April for $59. Google Flights is easy to navigate and it compares prices for most major airlines. If you prefer booking directly through an airline, it’s the simplest way to do so.
Booking directly with airlines
If you have a favorite airline, booking directly through that carrier can have its advantages over using OTAs. Most major airlines have low fare calendars where you can view monthly flight prices to find the cheapest option. Using low fare calendars is a smart way to find less expensive flights if you have flexibility within your travel dates. Airlines will also have sales on discount fares for particular routes and dates. These sales usually last a few days and can include incredibly low one-way fares.
While you can earn miles and rewards points with OTAs, oftentimes the best way to get the most miles out of a trip is by booking through the airline directly. Some carriers like Southwest Airlines don’t use OTAs and don’t show up in search engines so you can only book directly with them. Carriers like JetBlue offer more rewards points when you book directly with them as an added incentive. Other airlines like Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United and American Airlines offer rewards programs that earn you points from traveling and can be redeemed for future flights or even seat upgrades.
Booking directly through an airline streamlines a lot of your communication regarding changes or cancellations. It’s often easier to work with an airline to get a flight switched or voucher back for a delayed or canceled flight.
With flight prices steadily increasing, consider doing some quick at-home research to score the best deals on flights. Comparing flight prices and signing up for rewards programs will help you find affordable flights to get you jetting off to your next adventure sooner than later.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.