Where is the Best Place to Buy Plane Tickets Online?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Finding the best place to buy plane tickets online can be influenced by a variety of factors. When a person plans to travel, where he plans to travel, and what airline he would like to use can all influence ticket price. It's often best to start by looking at the airline's websites, but many online travel sites and discount clubs can offer good deals, especially for people who buy ahead or who are flexible with their travel plans.

Major airlines have fast and sophisticated online reservation systems.
Major airlines have fast and sophisticated online reservation systems.

In general, people should first start by looking at the websites of the individual airlines that fly to a particular destination. Travelers who are making late arrangements and plan to travel within a week of purchasing the tickets may find that an airline may offer special deals for people who are buying plane tickets online. Shoppers should compare several airlines, when possible, to see if there are differences in rates.

Online discount clubs may provide plane tickets at a bargain price.
Online discount clubs may provide plane tickets at a bargain price.

It’s worthwhile for travelers to explore the many travel websites for additional deals while purchasing plane tickets online. Each website may have different quotes for tickets, and prices may depend on more than just the time and destiation. For example, a person booking both plane tickets and hotel reservations may find better deals at a website if both reservations are made at the same time. A person who doesn't need to book a hotel might be better served at an airline’s website.

Be sure to buy tickets from a legitimate company.
Be sure to buy tickets from a legitimate company.

With the many airline and travel sites available, people should try to compare the rates on at least five to ten different sites. Some sites may offer very similar prices, so opening up the search to more than just a few sites can often yield the best prices. It also gives shoppers the opportunity to not only purchase plane tickets online, but to take advantage of other special deals that might be offered.

Travelers also might want to take any proposed deals and compare them to quotes from a travel agent as well. Auto clubs and discount shopping clubs often offer travel deals as well, so members should compare rates there too. In some cases, a great deal for plane tickets online might be matched or beaten.

People who shop for flights early can be at an advantage, since prices can change over time. Although last minute deals are possible, there's always the chance that the destination won't be discounted and a traveler will end up paying a very high price to get to his destination. If he knows his travel dates well in advance, the traveler can keep an eye open for fare sales. In most cases, prices are cheapest at least 14 days in advance of the travel date, and some deals require a 21-day advance purchase. Flights around major holidays are rarely discounted much, so it's usually best to book the flight as soon as possible.

Shoppers should be certain to read the fine print before booking flights. Some deals are offered with limited travel dates, and prices will be higher if the traveler flies on a later date. It's also best to purchase plane tickets online from a well-known company to help ensure that the deal is legitimate. Travelers should check any unknown sites with consumer organizations like the Better Business Bureau to make sure that they are legitimate and that they will treat customer's personal information, like his credit card number, securely.

If a deal seems too good to be true at an unfamiliar company, it should probably be avoided. Travelers will usually find that it's better to pay a few dollars more directly to an airline than purchase tickets that are invalid. Frequently advertised travel sites are usually safe to use.

Some airlines offer last-minute discount flights on their websites.
Some airlines offer last-minute discount flights on their websites.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Nowadays due to e-commerce business, one can easily buy anything online. This is really great information.


@ Fiorite- In addition to your suggestions I have also found that disabling third party cookies in your browser can prevent the dreaded last minute price jumps. Some travel sites will allow third party cookies by other travel sites. These airlines will display a low fare and only a few seats left. If you use the same browser to search another travel site or airline, and then return to the original site to purchase your tickets you may find that the original ticket price has gone up to what the other site was offering.

Of course, travel sites will not confirm this because it is borderline illegal, but many online forums discuss these tactics. I have also found that my travel prices are cheaper when I disable third party cookies. I no longer receive those annoying messages that say "sorry the last ticket has been sold, your ticket price has gone up". Beware though; some websites require third party cookies to use their services.


@ Surreallife- You are right about finding the best deals on the airlines website. Some airlines only sell tickets from their website (Jetblue, Southwest).

I have also found that the cheapest prices are going to be from the airline whose hub is either your destination or departure city. This fact may make it cheaper to fly the same airline to a city that is only 50 or 100 miles away, rather than your destination.


Apparently some of the major airline companies like Delta, United and others, will give $100 credit to passengers who found cheaper tickets on some other websites, rather than their own.

So it appears that shopping on an airline's own website might be the best way to go.

You do have to do some research first, to find out what is being offered and what are the price ranges.

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