Need to find cheap plane tickets for your trip? Here are three categories of travel websites you want to check out.
  
1. Airlines sometimes offer fares available only on their websites. Here are some U.S. based airlines:
Airtran Airways
Alaska Airlines
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Frontier Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines
JetBlue Airways
Southwest Airlines
Spirit Airlines
United Airlines
US Airways
Virgin America
more airlines
 
2. Meta-search Sites search multiple airlines and redirect you to airline websites for booking. In return, they usually receive commission when you click on the search result. Some airlines may not participate in their search system. Some meta-search sites are ITA Software's Matrix, Bing Travel, Google Flights, and Kayak.
 
3. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are similar to meta-search sites in terms of fare search but offer booking service. These might be useful when you need hotels and cars in addition to a flight. OTAs may have marketing arrangements with selected airlines and may be able to offer fares lower than airlines. Some airlines may not participate in their booking systems. Examples of OTAs are Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, and Travelocity.
 
• Read about our tips on how to buy cheap tickets

Before you make a purchase, you should check for these key terms:

  • Non-stop Flight: A flight with no stops or connections to your destination.
  • Direct Flight: Means there will be a stop(s) but the plane you are on will not change. Your plane will make at least one stop at a mid-point airport.
  • Connecting Flight: Requires at least one change of planes en route to the final destination.
 
Off-season flights can save you money. Here is the US domestic airfare price trend throughout the year. Move your mouse over the image to see better.

  • Lowest fares are usually found in mid-week days such as Tuesday or Wednesday when the traffic is light. This is because most leisure travelers like to get away on weekends. For example, departing Wednesday and returning on the following Wednesday may cost significantly less than Sunday-Sunday round trip. Off-hour flights such as late night or very early in the morning departure may also help. Also fare prices tend to go lower in off seasons. Typical off seasons are mid-January through March and October through mid-December except for thanksgiving weekend. During holiday periods fares are expensive. However you might be able to get a discount plane tickets if you fly on the holiday itself (e.g., Christmas Day).
 
Airfares have been rising in recent years. Click here to see the historical data since 1995.