Consumer Reports: How to get best deal on flights

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How to get the best deal on flights (WLS)

If you're planning a flight for the December holidays and haven't booked yet, do it soon. Consumer Reports says if you wait much longer, you'll likely see prices jump. Here's how to find the cheapest price.

For many air travelers, getting the best deal matters most. But which booking site will give passengers what they're looking for?

Consumer Reports compared nine sites, searching for the cheapest nonstop roundtrip flights on five busy domestic routes.

Users simultaneously searched for the exact same itinerary at the same time to the same airport.

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

Despite its name, CheapOAir never came up with the lowest fare on any of the routes that Consumer Reports 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 Mandy Walker, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

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 said 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.

More of Consumer Reports free advice on getting the best deal on airline travel is available here: www.consumerreports.org/cro/airline-travel/buying-guide.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2016. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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