Consumer Reports: Getting the Cheapest Airfare

For many air travelers, here’s what matters the most.

“I definitely try to get the best deal that I can get,” an air traveler said.

But which booking site will give you the best deal?

Consumer Reports compared nine sites, searching for the cheapest nonstop roundtrip flights on five busy domestic routes. Users simultaneously searched for the same itinerary at the same time to the same airport.

They found there can be big differences. For example, in one search for New York to Miami round-trip flights, the cheapest fare Google Flights came up with was $597, but on Priceline the cheapest was $459.

And despite its name, CheapOAir never came up with the lowest fare on any of the routes that CR checked.

“We found you’ll increase your odds of finding the lowest fare if you search for flights multiple times over multiple days with and without your search history cleared on your browser,” said Consumer Reports Money Editor Mandy Walker.

Also, check the airlines own sites to see if you can find an even lower fare. You can find all airlines that serve a given route at google.com/flights.

Fares can vary considerably for flights just hours apart and at nearby airports. Consumer Reports found Kayak makes it particularly easy to search for other options.

With prices changing all the time, Consumer Reports says it’s a good idea to check the day after you book to see if you can find a better deal. By law you can cancel without penalty for 24 hours after you book it, as long as you’re not traveling for at least a week.

For more free information on how to get the best deal on airline travel, visit www.consumerreports.org/cro/airline-travel/buying-guide.htm

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