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Find Cheap Airfare Online

Think scoringing a great price on airline tickets is all about luck of the draw? Think again -- there's a science to it. By taking a minute or two to follow our tips, you'll be ready to pounce the split second that prices dip.

Time it right. Hoping for a summer sojourn? Better get on it. The sweet spot for buying tickets is two to three months in advance (or, if you’re going international, six to eight months).

Search AirfareWatchdog. Like the major travel search sites (Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity), AirfareWatchdog.com collects and compares flight prices from multiple cities and carriers. But what makes it different is that actual humans (not computers!) carry out the searches. Though you can’t purchase tickets directly, they provide where-to-buy links.

Set alerts. On sites like Kayak you can enter your maximum price for a certain route or destination and they’ll email you whenever the rates drop below it.

Buy from the carrier. The lowest prices are almost always on the airline’s own sites. Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia are great for comparing, but they tack on a service fee of $3 to $30.

Start bidding. If you’re flexible on departure time, airline, and (in bigger cities) airport, try bidding for a ticket on sites like Priceline or Hotwire. This is where the lowest fares pop up -- often for even less than you'd pay on the airline’s site!

Follow up on Yapta. Many airlines have low-price guarantees for tickets purchased through their own websites. This means if you buy a ticket and later find a lower fare or the price drops, you could receive compensation for the difference. Go online to Yapta.com after you’ve bought. Enter a confirmation code and they’ll let you know if the price goes down.  How cool is that?

Nestpert Sam Sellers, author of ebook Take Control of Booking a Cheap Airline Ticket, TakeControlBooks.com.

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-- The Nest Editors

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