1. If you fly frequently, consider joining a frequent flyer program.
Frequent flyer programs can offer long-term discounts, so don’t always buy the cheapest ticket. Once you factor in the free tickets that you eventually qualify for, you could end up saving money. This is an especially good strategy for those who often fly overseas – how many trips to Singapore would it take to accumulate enough frequent flyer miles to get a free domestic ticket?
2. Check the airlines’ own websites
Don’t restrict yourself to the major airlines. Some regional and national carriers offer cheap airfare. China Airlines, for example, might offer cut-rate airfare to Beijing.
3. Check the online travel agencies
Expedia and Orbitz are among the most popular. Travel agents purchase air tickets at a discount by buying in bulk from the airlines, so they can often offer you cheaper rates than the airlines.
4. Be flexible.
Cheap airfares are often available only on certain days and require you to stay a certain minimum time.
5. Try the small agents in ethnic enclaves.
If you live in a big city and want a ticket to Japan, for example, go to Little Tokyo and check out the small agencies. If you want to go to Rome, check out Little Italy. I have purchased round trip tickets from Los Angeles to Tokyo for as little as US$500.
6. Book in advance.
Tickets booked in advance are normally cheaper than last minute purchases.
7. Buy from an air courier service.
Air courier services are companies that buy your luggage allowance in exchange for discounted tickets. Although they are the cheapest tickets available, they are usually reserved for international travel. Please note, however, that you may only bring carry-on luggage.
8. Become a student.
An International Student ID Card will get you lots of places cheap.
9. Offer to pay your way aboard an unregistered cargo plane by cleaning toilets and mopping the deck (bring along a parachute and you can stop anywhere you like – for the very adventurous only!).