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The best way to find a cheap fare quickly is to use a price comparison site. These allow you to check multiple airlines, possibly at multiple airports on multiple days. However it often pays to compare the offer with the price on the airline”s webpage. Airlines are more likely to offer an electronic ticket and not charge handling fees. You may also be able to search for a hotel or hostel, rental car, cruise, rail pass, vacation package, or other related items at the same site. Most of these search engines have the option to send you an email when the fares for specific destinations change by a specific amount or go below a specific value.
Note that most price comparison sites do not list fares for low-cost airlines and some major airlines (such as American, U.S. Airways, Southwest, SpiritAir, etc). On the other hand, there are websites targeting low-cost airlines in particular in addition to traditional carriers.
Some airlines such as Continental and American have instituted a guaranteed lowest fare feature on their websites. This means that you are guaranteed to get the lowest fare for that flight on their website. This does not mean that you will not find a lower fare on another airline, but it is an improvement over the past because airlines’ own websites offer frequent flyer booking bonuses for using their sites to book tickets. For example, if a multi-airline search on Travelocity showed that Continental had the cheapest flight, go to Continental´s site and book your ticket there to get the bonus. Even if Continental is no longer offering it, you will be able to get the frequent flyer booking bonus.
Check discount sites individually for deals. But discount airlines sometimes have special procedures or restrictions, and may be less willing to allow you to change to a different flight or to give you a refund. Be sure you understand all special terms before booking. Discount airlines are constantly expanding the list of airports they service; check their official sites for details.