No matter who you are and where you are from, we all deserve to spend time around the holidays with the people, places, and things we cherish. Unfortunately, depending on where you are and your intended holiday destination, it can be all too easy to end up paying more for airline tickets than you need. Rather than missing out on seeing your loved ones this holiday season due to an overly expensive flight, shopping around can yield incredible results. Check out the best online services for finding the best airline tickets cheap and make your holiday travel season one to remember.
OTA vs. non-OTA Airline Booking Websites
There are two primary methods of purchasing cheap airfare online: OTA or non-OTA booking services. OTA refers to Online Travel Agencies or companies that work as brokers and go-betweens to airlines, hotels, and so on while earning commissions. Non-OTA services let you book with the hospitality provider directly. Each type of booking service has its pros and cons. For example, OTAs generally offer cheaper flights by providing less customer service, and some flights are only available to purchase when using a non-OTA booking website. Be sure to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each type of website before confirming your travel itinerary.
As one of the more popular OTA websites to book cheap airfare, Hotwire is especially useful if you need to save money by bundling both a flight and a hotel room. Hotwire is economical enough that, in many cases, booking separate flights and rooms costs significantly more than bundling, making it great if you need both services. Using Hotwire to find cheap airline tickets may result in your having to pay a booking fee on top of the flight itself, so keep that in mind. Hotwire also offers a 24-hour cancelation policy on all bookings, though the Hot Deals will not necessarily result in your saving significant amounts of money.
Rather than serving as an OTA, Kayak has operated as more of a travel search engine that directs users to the booking websites for the individual airlines. One of the ways that Kayak stands out from the competition is by allowing you to save money on round-trip flights by purchasing two one-way tickets instead, known as Kayak Hacker Deals, which is not a service that other OTAs typically provide. It should be noted that Kayak will work best with flexible travel plans, so consider whether you want to use this service to book a flight at a particular time.
Operating similarly to Kayak, Momondo provides users with travel-based search results that can be accessed by simply entering the proposed details of your desired flights. In addition, users can take advantage of tracking changing price trends for their flights and find cheaper airfare by adjusting their travel dates and locations. Utilize the handy price tracker to find the best deals, and use multiple filters to screen out more expensive options. Momondo also offers similar discounts to Kayak in helping you purchase a pair of one-way tickets, but this will likely involve you having to buy a ticket on two separate websites. If you are willing to forgo having your flights arranged for you to save some money, Momondo will let you do just that.
Another veteran OTA service, Orbitz, has over two decades of experience providing users with cheap airline flights to various locations. If you need accommodations and a flight, Orbits offers a free rewards service called Orbucks, which allows you to earn 1% cashback when using the website and 2% cashback when using the Orbitz mobile app. Another friendly policy is that if you happen to find a cheaper option for your flight within 24 hours of booking on Orbitz, they will return the difference in fees to you. While these savings can pile up the more you use Orbitz to book your cheap airfare, you should be aware that Orbucks can only be used to defray the costs of hotel rooms, not flights or complete vacation packages. Orbitz also has a policy of occasionally charging an additional 1% of the booking fee, so be cognizant that it could be a source of unexpected costs.
As the OTA service responsible for introducing opaque bookings, or booking where several specific details about the flight remain concealed until the booking is complete, Priceline is useful for people who like to have their flight information neatly organized and color-coded. Priceline provides an easy-to-understand color system that lets you instantly identify the best available deals when searching through the available travel dates for your cheap airline flight. Users can also search for early bird and red-eye specials, non-stop flights, and flights without change fees to help save money. Priceline also offers Express Deals for booking flights, but due to the nature of opaque bookings, you may not end up saving as much money or may even spend more than you thought, so be careful before you confirm your flight.
With a little bit of research and a slight willingness to gamble on things like opaque pricing, you can save considerably on your overall flight costs. Make sure you take the time to seek out the best deals to avoid paying more than you should and consider making your travel plans more flexible, if possible, to increase your savings.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Dan VanPatten: Dan is a full-time technology writer with interests in gaming, gadgetry, and all things PC tech related. He writes about a variety of topics including technology news, product reviews, and software. His experience stems from years of experience writing & producing content for technology newsletters & publications.