Where can I get plain tickets cheapest?
May 8, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Where can I get plain tickets cheapest? Specifically, round trip from Memphis, TN to San Diego, CA.

I don't travel much, but I'm trying to get to San Diego with my significant other without spending an absurd amount of money. We don't have skymiles or anything like that at our disposal. Does anyone have any suggestions?
posted by mdpatrick to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
kayak.com usually works for me.
posted by lukemeister at 2:23 PM on May 8, 2010

Kayak for plain old plane tickets.
posted by proj at 2:26 PM on May 8, 2010

if you're 26 or under, then STA Travel or Student Universe can sometimes beat Kayak. For Kayak, make sure you register first, because more features (such as flexible travel dates) are available if you're signed in.
posted by acidic at 2:33 PM on May 8, 2010

The New York Times Frugal Traveler columnist did a piece on how he finds cheap tickets, which I used to good effect recently booking a ticket from SFO to Amsterdam. It's fairly complicated, but worth running through, I think.
posted by hwickline at 2:33 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Along with kayak and the piece hwickline mentioned, I like to check Bing.com/travel to get an idea of when it is best to purchase a ticket.
posted by shesbookish at 3:04 PM on May 8, 2010

US-domestic airfare is pretty simple. The cheapest fare will generally be an advance-purchase, round-trip fare with a Saturday night stay. In some cases you will want to try to balance alternate airports against the inconvenience (i.e., it probably doesn't make sense to travel out of Nashville instead of Memphis if you're only saving $100).

Going directly through the airlines' websites usually gets you the lowest fare; Kayak is a good way to aggregate those sites. You may be able to eke out some referral rebates (i.e., Fatwallet, Bing cash back, etc.) but it's usually not a lot.

Options such as Priceline's "name your own price" may be cheaper than what is otherwise offered, but you lose flexibility. Sites like Flyertalk sometimes publish "mistake" fares but you can't rely on that.

The real discount options / searching only come into play for international travel. International fares are when going through travel agents or consolidators, or "creative" routing really come into play. Edward Hasbrouck explains it pretty well.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 4:43 PM on May 8, 2010

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