Travel site tips for finding the cheapest plane tickets

When it’s time to book a vacation, most people know you need to buy plane tickets at least six weeks in advance to avoid the highest costs. But, getting the cheapest tickets doesn’t have to involve going online every day to check prices. There are websites that will do that for you.

Washington Consumers’ Checkbook details how flyers can set up alerts to be notified when a ticket cost dips below a set threshold on websites such as Google FlightsKayak and Hopper.

“There’s also a website we really like called Scott’s Cheap Flights,” said Washington Consumers’ Checkbook executive editor Kevin Brasler. “It has a whole team of people who track these prices; and they’re constantly looking at what the airlines are offering, and when they think prices have really hit bottom, they send out an email about it.”

Do you know about leaving the “where to” box blank?

Some search engines offer “cheapish suggestions” for flight destinations to people who have flexibility, are uncertain about where they want to go, or who aren’t particular, Brasler said.

“It’s something Google Flights in particular does really well,” he said. “You basically tell Google, ‘I only want to travel for up to six hours. Where can I go for up to six hours in the world?’ And it will start showing you destinations along with the prices.”

If you choose the blank box option, however, you’ll need to be prepared to act quickly: The suggested tickets and prices shown are only good for that day.

“That’s why I think it’s worth using these sites to track specific itineraries, even if it’s a dozen that you’re interested in, because it will keep generating information for you and letting you know whether prices are going down or not,” Brasler said.

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