1. Initially I use the web. I will check out Booking Wiz (use their airline price checker below). I also check out major travel sites such as Skyscanner, Google Matrix, Expedia.com and Travelocity.com. I then directly check the airline websites offerings flights to my desired destination. Typically I will spend 90-120 minutes researching airfare on the web before a buying tickets to an international destination.
2. In order to find cheap tickets and low airfare, I call several of the so called “Bucket Consolidator” air companies in my area. These are independent travel firms that often buy large quantities of tickets to certain destinations and as a result get discounts from the airlines. Some of these companies will concentrate their efforts on a certain part of the world or certain countries and so tickets might be cheaper to these places. These companies used to advertise in major newspapers – but now you will have to do some online research focusing on these particular companies located in the closest major metropolitan region to where you live.
3. Fly during the off season! There is a lot to be said for this. Tickets are often cheaper, seats are more available – as a result you may have more options with additional airline carriers.
It should also be noted that flights during times of international crisis (major wars, global illnesses etc) tend to be much cheaper then normal (although in certain cases the number of routes can be severely cut back).
4. Another method used to find cheap tickets and low airfare is to call the airline directly – sometimes you will be surprised, the price might be cheaper than using the internet. Sometimes you can even talk the price down a little bit – we have only had limited success with this but it doesn’t hurt to try. I list many airlines & their contact info here.
5. If you live in a major metropolis, sometimes flying out of secondary market airports may make a difference in price and help you find cheap tickets and low airfare. This is especially true in Europe where budget airlines often fly into and out of secondary airports rather then the primary airports.
6. Often varying the departure or return day by a day or two can result in lower prices. I’ve found Tuesdays are usually a cheap priced day to travel on – weekends tend to be higher priced. Along these same lines consider searching for your tickets on Saturday mornings. I can’t confirm this but have read in several sources that some airlines release low unadvertised fares on Saturday mornings.
7. As a final option, you might consider flying Courier. Usually many stipulations apply and unless you are very flexible flying, this may not work for you. And courier services are much more limited in availability then they used to be.