Finding lower airfares should not be a time-consuming process. Here are a few quick methods and links to published McCool Travel articles.
8 Great Ways to Get Lower Airfares
1. Be Flexible. Think range, rather than specific. Look for flights during a range of dates, rather than a specific day.
2. Be Unloyal. Being loyal to a specific brand does not make sense when the airfare costs too much. Search for airfares from all carriers rather than sticking with a specific airline.
3. One Way Flights. Booking separate one way flights may result in lower airfares AND more convenient schedules than a round trip (aka return) flight.
4. Alternate Airports. Not only do many areas have more than one airport but the best airport for a given trip might not be the obvious choice. For instance, when visiting California Disneyland, instead of LAX (Los Angeles), better airport options would be LGB (Long Beach), SNA (Santa Ana/Orange County), and ONT (Ontario). In fact, considering the traffic between LAX and Disneyland, I would also consider SAN (San Diego).
5. Split Tickets. You can save money, time, and stress on some itineraries by buying split tickets.
6. Introductory Flights. When an airline enters a new market, they usually offer initial lower airfares. Current examples include WOW between USA and Europe for $99 each way and Virgin America between Washington, DC area and Dallas. Even better is that existing airlines drop their fares to match the new guy.
7. Pack Light. One way to assure lower airfares is to avoid paying extra fees, like baggage charges. By packing light and bringing only carryon bags on flights—one of the 3 Habits of Happy Travelers—you will save money, time, and stress.
8. Break Up Groups. When more than one person is flying together, whether a couple or family or group, compare the prices for one person versus the whole group. When one member of the group ends up in a higher fare class, many airlines will assign that rate to every member of the group. I have found lower airfares by buying separate tickets; for instance, for my family on one itinerary and myself on another. The seats can still be reserved together.