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Gas is getting more expensive everyday and driving the price of an airline ticket up, up and away from most personal or business budgets.

With fewer flights and higher fares, finding a cheap plane ticket is more important to the traveler on a budget than it has ever been. The list of online sites that offer cheap fares is daunting, but it seems that every site brings you to the same search, and the fares you find are not very low.

Auction and "name your own price" sites may be the answer you're looking for, but they won't do you any good if you want to know the airline and how many transfers your bargain fare will bring. Taking 18 hours for a six hour flight may not be the solution for you.

A word about fare consolidators

Some travelers swear by fare consolidators. Those are ticket brokers who get drastic reductions on ticket prices and are able to pass the savings on to their customers. You can find some great deals on airfare that way, but be sure you know who you are dealing with or you may find yourself paying for tickets that don't exist.

There are plenty of reputable consolidators, but there are frauds too... so, buyer beware. Make sure the tickets are for an airline you are familiar with and do a search to find out if anyone has complained about the company. The web is a great place to find reports about shady companies.

As always, the cheapest fares can be had by planning ahead -- and booking mid-week -- when airlines are normally less busy...

Plan ahead, and fly at off times

For the best fares, plan your travel well ahead of time. A 50-day window brings steep discounts on all fares - from first and business class to economy travel. If you've waited too long to get the discount for early booking, try a search for last minute bargains.

Generally, travel on Tuesday through Thursday will be less expensive. Most people plan vacations to start on Friday or Saturday so discount airfares are harder to find on those days. Business travelers crowd planes on Mondays and Fridays so those days are usually also more pricey.

Another important tip for finding cheap airfares? Choose to travel when most people don't!

For example, that flight that gets you home in the wee hours of the morning can mean a steep price reduction over the same flight getting in in the early evening. Of course, expect to pay premium prices during peak season summer travel (even with discounts). It's much easier to find a bargain price for your vacation travel during the fall and winter months.

also see -> Great Ideas for Cheap Budget Travel

Searching the Web for cheap airfares

The Web has enabled anyone to become their own travel agent. With a little detective work you, too, can find that cheap airfare, travel package or that dream cruise to Cancun with a touch of a button.

Always wanted to know where travel professionals find all those cheap fares? Here you go... - The airfare clearinghouse that debuted in 2008 with a huge database of the cheapest airfares available including online specials, an active message board, free e-mail alerts, news blog.

EBookers - UK-based firm with sister sites throughout Europe, the design and navigation is worth the click. The graphics are quick loading, the abundant material is well organized - and they offer great information and even better deals.

ITA Matrix - No fuss, no muss. This site uses software developed at MIT and used by both KAYAK and Google Flight Search so if your're looking for the cheapest airfare possible, go to the source!
- Browse their Top Ten specials, bargain packages and hotel deals for Europe, South and Central America, Asia and South Pacific destinations with information on group packages and last minute fares.

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