The easiest way to find and compare all flight options and airline rates for a particular route is to use one of the many online travel agencies (which sell airline tickets) or the fare collection sites (which can direct you to an airline or another website to buy the ticket with the desired rate).
The question is: does any offer lower rates than others?
Tips getting the best airline rates
▪ Cover all bases: Before booking a fare at an online travel agency such as Expedia or Orbitz, search at google.com/flights to see all carriers on the route you are going to fly. Then, enter the airline’s websites to see if you can find an even lower airline rate. Although I did not examine any airline sites, remember that they often offer advantages, such as discounts, seat selection and details about the optional rates for meals, luggage, etc., of the frequent flyer program.
▪ Be flexible: I discovered that airline rates can vary considerably only hours apart and at airports in the same city. All of these sites offer filters to help you reduce or expand these choices, although I consider that Kayak’s were better. Be careful when using the tools, as I discovered the following: after opting for specific departure times or choosing non-stop flights, my preferences were repeatedly ignored.
▪ Use price alerts: Kayak, for example, will send you an email per week or even per day when the price decreases. This feature is useful when buying tickets well in advance.
▪ Do not stop searching once you have purchased a ticket: By law, you can cancel a reservation without penalty for 24 hours after paying for it, as long as the trip is scheduled for a week later. “Prices change all the time, so it’s a good idea to check some sites for 24 hours to see if you can find a better airline rate,” says Carl de Marcken, former MIT professor and expert on rates.