— Sign up for fare alerts from the airlines and fare-tracking websites. Some of those sales end quickly, so you may have to act fast.
— Use flexible-date searches available on many airline websites including those of United, Delta, Southwest and JetBlue.
— Look at one-way fares. Most airlines now sell those at half the price of a round trip. Because of the quirks of pricing and scheduling, you might save money or get a more convenient itinerary by flying one airline out and another one on the return leg.
— Consider the budget carriers such as Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines. American, United and sometimes Delta often match the discounters’ fares but without extra fees for things like carry-on bags. Flying overseas, check carriers like Norwegian Air Shuttle, Aer Lingus, Icelandair, Wow Air and XL Airways France.
— But when booking on a budget airline, consider all of your needs. A cheaper fare might cost more in the long run if you pile up extra fees or have an overnight layover on an international trip.
— Run the numbers on packages; you might save money booking a hotel and flight at the same time.
— There is no automatic best day to buy airline tickets, but it helps to fly on a less busy day. For many vacation destinations, it’s cheaper to fly on Tuesday and Wednesday than on the weekends. It could be the other way around on business routes.
— Break up the band? Airlines typically offer a limited number of seats at the lowest price, and if you’re buying four or five seats together you could get quoted a higher fare. If you buy those tickets individually, you might get a few at the cheapest price. But first, check seat availability to make sure there is room on the plane for your whole gang.