Does your jaw drop in amazement when you hear about the incredibly cheap international plane tickets, bargain flights on low cost airlines or discount air travel fares your family and friends manage to get their hands on?
Do people you meet backpacking around the world or (even more annoyingly) sitting next to you on long-haul flights always seem to have paid half of what you did for the same plane ticket?
Time to dig up your own dirt cheap deals!
But before you start . . .
To get the most out of this section, take a minute to read these tips and hints for bagging cheap international flights.
And if it's an around the world flight you're after, check out the round the world tickets section, too!
If you only have the time (or patience) to research one website in your quest for cheap international plane tickets, make sure it's an aggregator.
Aggregators are gargantuan travel search engines (also called metasearch engines) that can scour hundreds of websites for you in about 10 seconds flat.
Simply plug in a few details of your trip and the aggregator then crawls the individual sites of traditional airlines, budget carriers, online travel agents, flight consolidators and other air ticket discounters for the best deals.
Since they make money from advertising, aggregators don't charge service fees or mark up ticket prices. In fact, they don't even sell you anything. Like Google, Bing and Yahoo, they just steer you in the right direction.
Once you've found the flight you want, the aggregator redirects you to a site where you can make your booking.
Quick and hassle-free.
The top travel search engines have truly fantastic tools and features to help you uncover the really cheap international plane tickets.
Of course, you can always play around with different dates and alternative airports, and you can usually set your world currency and sometimes even your language.
But most aggregator sites also include a range of live search filters to make sure you find exactly what you're after:
What time of day would you like to leave? Which type of aircraft do you prefer to fly? Have a specific airline alliance in mind? How many stops are you willing to make? And where do you want to make them?
Aggregators also offer numerous other features and flight info that might be useful — from charts, graphs or calendars of recent airfare deals found on their sites to suggested nearby airports.
Refine your search to your heart's content and then sort the results by price, route, take off and landing times, number and length of layovers, total duration of the trip or alphabetically by airline.
And if that's not enough, you can usually sign up for instant fare alerts and flight tracking, too!
Don't we wish!
Unfortunately, no travel search engine can come out on top every single time for every destination.
Yes, some are more likely to sniff out cheaper airfares than others. But because each one crawls a different combination of airlines, travel agencies and air ticket consolidators, it's always a good idea to look at a few.
Where I go for cheap international plane tickets:
Ever since Kayak came on the scene, it's been one of my absolute favourite cheap air travel resources. Because when it comes to delivering the goods, Kayak's more often than not the one to beat!
Not only does Kayak consistently nail some of the lowest airfares you'll find anywhere, it also offers some amazingly useful travel management tools and lots of practical little extras.
Sadly, Kayak's flexible dates option is a bit lame compared to most other travel search engines. It can only display one week at a time (3 days on either side of your departure and return date). Well, no one's perfect.
What I like most about Kayak:
Kayak is partnered with Microsoft's Bing and Yapta.
With its striking rainbow of colours and gorgeously slick design, Momondo dazzles. But it's not just another pretty face. Momondo's one of the most comprehensive travel search engines on the Net.
Trawling over 800 websites (and counting), including cut-rate carriers that many aggregators miss, Momondo comes up with some unbelievably cheap international plane tickets.
Frustratingly, the fare calendar doesn't always work (not for me, anyway)! So before you get overly excited about that incredibly cheap flight from Chicago to Sydney, make sure it actually exists.
Momondo's star features:
It's not hard to understand why so many seasoned travellers swear by this innovative, award-winning website for their cheap international plane tickets. Skyscanner has a lot going for it — and then some.
Many of Skyscanner's customisable tools are unique and fun to play around with. And if you've got the time to hang out for a bit, there's stuff on there to keep you entertained for hours.
That's before you even start to consider the 670,000 routes they can compare for you.
Yes, some of the prices you first see on Skyscanner can look pretty much the same as on any discount airfare site. But dig around a little and there's a good chance you'll unearth that jaw-dropping deal you've been after!
What's so great about Skyscanner?
If you want to see for yourself what all the fuss is about, you can try Skyscanner Flight Search right here.
I've randomly entered 'New York' and 'Everywhere' as examples — of course, you can type right over those with any departure and destination points you like.
Oh, and let me know what you find. My bags are packed.
Cheap and cheerful Mobissimo comes highly recommended by leading budget travel experts. And as it specialises in cheap international flights, it's also hugely popular with backpackers around the world.
Mobissimo's track record for outperforming other large travel aggregators is impressive, and the site features interesting suggestion tools that you won't see anywhere else.
But real-time search filters and other fancy gadgets? There isn't much to write home about here. Still, if all you're looking for is very cheap international plane tickets, Mobissimo should be on your list.
What makes Mobissimo stand out?
True to its name, Fly.com searches nothing but plane tickets. That's right. No hotels, no car rentals, no holiday tours, no vacation packages, no cruises. Just cheap international plane tickets.
Not surprisingly, it does one heck of a job! Fly.com frequently discovers major carrier specials that are significantly cheaper than the best fares found by any of its big-name competitors.
I do have one small gripe, though. Where most other travel search engines show prices for alternative dates with cheaper airfares, Fly.com makes you check each date combo individually. Very time-consuming.
Best reasons to try Fly.com:
Fly.com is a Travelzoo company.
If anyone can get you from A to B on a low cost airline, it's probably Dohop. Virtually no obscure route, unusual connection or little-known budget carrier in the world slips through its search engine.
Used by millions of backpackers worldwide, Dohop's received kudos from such respected travel gurus as Arthur Frommer himself (you know . . . of Frommer's Travel Guides fame). That's no mean feat.
Okay, so Dohop might disappoint you a little if you're into all the cool bells and whistles that some of the other aggregators have on offer. But it's a gem of a site for finding cheap international plane tickets that they can't!
Huh? . . . ITA Software?
I know. That's exactly what I said, too. But travel agents have been using ITA for years — and it's this software that powers some of the world's largest travel websites!
ITA's no-frills but highly functional site lets you personalise your search and results page to the last detail. And with rock bottom prices to boot, this is easily one of the best kept secrets of cheap international plane tickets.
So, what's the catch? ITA only supplies you with itineraries and fares — there's no redirection service. But all that means is you need to look up the airline yourself or get a travel agent to make the reservation for you. Simple, really.Top features of ITA Software:
ITA Software is brought to you by Google. (Figures!)
Found yourself a fantastically cheap international plane ticket?
Don't book just yet! Your next stop is . . .
How to Get Your Hands On the Cheapest Airfare