With a few extra functions and a smarter user interface, this combination will be the best flight tracking tool in the market. The ability to track your flights after purchase and be notified if there is a chance of a partial refund has the potential to save a lot of money and adds a layer of value the websites on the list don’t have an answer for.
For example, United flights on ExpertFlyer only show I (business class), X (economy) and O (first class) availability; these award classes are standardized across all Star Alliance partners. However, if you have a cobranded card (like the United Explorer Card) or hold United Premier elite status, you have access to additional award inventory that doesn’t appear on ExpertFlyer. You should search United.com for award seats available to you:
If you don't have access to a service such as Flight Alerts, check in with the airlines 24 hours prior to departure. If an upgrade is still unavailable at this point, check in online at the airline's Web site. Most airlines establish a waitlist for upgrades at the airport. Priority is usually given to those who have checked-in the earliest and with online check-in available 24 hours prior to departure; this will greatly increase your chances of getting that elusive upgrade.
Number 2 is that you don’t even need to know where you want to go. Based solely on your fixed dates or a broad time period, the Explore option shows you where is cheapest to fly, which is a perfect tool for the early stages of your trips. I use it this feature a lot when planning a trip itinerary or choosing which hub city should I adopt in a multi-city trip.

Kindness pays, so pay it forward with interest and you could be in first class in the blink of a smile. Andrew Phillips, Senior Technical Manager, recounts his lucky American flight upgrade: “Flying to the US a few years ago, I boarded the plane late (as usual) and there was an old chap sitting down in my seat. The stewardess (who I’d chatted to on the way in) was nearby and heard the guy saying he just wanted to sit next to his wife. I told her I didn’t mind sitting in his seat (it was the row behind I think) and off she went, only to return five minutes later. She asked me to follow her…all the way up to business class!”

Yapta.com allows you to set up an alert for a specific flight. They call it a “refund” alert, since they set it up for watching a flight you’ve already booked but want to know if the price drops in case it’s with an airline (such as Alaska in my case) that gives refunds without fees if your price drops after booking. However, they don’t actually check whether you’re on the flight, so you could use it to simply watch a flight that you’re interested in but HAVEN’T YET booked. This wouldn’t be practical if there’s a wide variety of flights flying the route you want on the day you want in the time span you want, but in those cases where there are only a few flights that fit your needs, it might be practical to use this feature at Yapta.com to set up a fare alert for those specific flights.

I like Skyscanner.com because it has the open-ended “everywhere” option. You just type in your departure city (or general area such as your state) and in the destination box, you can select “everywhere.” What I don’t like about this option that it will only populate for departures from major cities. When I type in my airport, I have to click on each destination to get prices, a bit labor intensive. It does offer a nice map view of the entire world populated with the lowest-priced fares from any departure city. You can easily set up an alert for any combination of cities but not to “everywhere.”

If you fly a lot on the same airline, your options for getting upgrades soar. High-mile/point travelers are the first eligible and first chosen for most upgrades, so despite the fact that airline experts have been bemoaning the devaluing of airline miles for years, if you are a high-mileage and high-dollar flier, you will see greatly increased upgrade offers, often at no cost.
Air Canada has introduced enhancements at the departure gate which facilitate the processing of all customers on the airport standby list. At flight closure, based on the number of available seats in each cabin, all customers on the standby list are processed automatically. As such, if you are waitlisted for an upgrade and space is available once the flight is ready to board, your seat will be changed automatically between 45-60 minutes prior to flight departure depending on your destination.
This information flow can be incredibly helpful when trying to book award seats not available online or with programs that have challenging phone agents. If you wanted to redeem Etihad miles for a business class flight from Prague (PRG) to Seoul (ICN) on Czech Airlines for the amazing price of 25,610 Etihad miles, don’t rely on hit-or-miss Etihad phone agents to find space; use ExpertFlyer and have the flight number and date in hand for this one-of-a-kind award flight:
To find the best price for your flight, conduct a search for flights on Skyscanner and then click on the “Get price alerts” button, If you’re already logged in, the price alerts will be automatically sent to your email. Not logged in? No problem, you can either create an account with us or just add your email address. Skyscanner will then track the price of your search and each time the flight price changes, we’ll send an email to you that shows the increase or decrease on plane tickets. Make sure to use the exact date and airports to track the right flights!
So, for example, if you really like to take United's morning nonstop between New York and LA, you can track just that flight to see if the price drops to a level you specify, and you'll also get an alert if the price drops between the time you buy and when you fly. Yapta requires that you download an applet, and only works with Internet Explorer 6 or 7, which means it doesn't work on Macs, although a Mac/Firefox version is in the works. And it does not (yet) track fares on all airlines — just 11 so far, and as usual Southwest isn't one of them.
Farecast.com: This site is best known for predicting where an airfare on a particular route is going to go (up, down, or stay the same) over a period of time. But recently it, too, got into the fare listing game. From the home page, go to the "Airline Ticket Deals" section and you'll see a select, but not very extensive, list of fares from the airport of your choice. Unlike Farecompare, Farecast uses airfare data from Cambridge, MA-based ITA Software, which in our experience is more accurate than ATPCO's data. Farecast's fares show all taxes up front, but Southwest, Allegiant, Skybus and a few other airlines' fares are not shown.
Service surcharge levied on a booking or booking change (flight date) in line with Article 5.2.3 of the GCC, as booked via the call centre, at our airport sales desk or through a commercial agent ADD €20 / £18 / CHF 23 / $23 / CZK 514 / SEK 205 / NOK 191 / PLN 86 / HUF 6,381 (per booking, not per person and per journey) €20 / £18 / CHF 23 / $23 / CZK 514 / SEK 205 / NOK 191 / PLN 86 / HUF 6,381 / AED 94 / THB 900 plus difference in current flight price

The other nice thing about the results page is that it’ll show you connecting options (as long as you don’t limit it to nonstop flights at the outset), though bear in mind that every leg of a one- or multi-stop itinerary must have award availability in the desired class of service in order to book the entire trip with miles. Remember too that most award seat availability shown on ExpertFlyer will be at the saver level for all programs. This is nice in that it should be bookable using any partner program’s currency, but it won’t show you the expanded award inventory that’s sometimes available through certain programs.

Working in a polar opposite manner to Skyscanner, Airfare Watchdog allows you to set flight alerts from city-to-city, deals from a departure city, or deals to a destination city. However, you cannot set dates for your flight alerts. Rather than relying solely on computers to do the heavy lifting, the team at Airfare Watchdog have airfare analysts that research fares to ensure they're good deals then send them out to accounts signed up to watch those cities. One benefit is that they can pick up unpublished sales and also fares from airlines like Southwest. Airfare Watchdog is best for setting broad flight alerts that are not date-specific.

This is a much debated topic! Our latest Twitter poll revealed that 86% of British travellers don’t know when they should be booking their flights to bag the best deals. By creating Price Alerts, you’ll be able to check the price of your chosen flight, and book when the flight ticket is the lowest. In general, you should be looking to book your flight no later than seven weeks before you want to jet off. However, the exact time frame does differ according to your chosen destination. To get exact timings on when to book the cheapest flights, try our The Best Time To Book tool.

ITA Software Classic Matrix Tool - This tool allows you to search for fares in different sales cities so that you can accurately plan purchases in any city around the world. Additionally it has an undocumented feature that allows you to specify specific fare buckets. If you want to, for instance, search for A bucket availability on the HKG-JFK route on Cathay Pacific you would enter the search as From: HKG:: cx+ / f bc=a and To: JFK:: cx+ / f bc=a. You can substitute the "cx" with the proper airline code for the airline you wish to check, and substitute the "bc=a" with "bc=X" where X is the fare bucket you wish to check. If you wish to check multiple booking-codes and not place any restriction on the airline format the request as JFK::/ f bc=x|bc=y|bc=z to check the x, y, and z buckets. Another undocumented feature is the ability to request multiple segments on specific carriers (useful for mileage runs). If you want to travel from Los Angeles to New York and take 4 American Airlines segments, you would enter the departure city as LAX::AA AA AA AA and the destination city as JFK::AA AA AA AA. This will search for a 4 segment connection in each direction on AA. You can also force connections in specific cities. So, for instance, if you wanted to connect in STL from LAX to JFK on American Airlines you would enter the departure city as LAX::AA STL AA and the destination city as JFK::AA STL AA You can find the syntax by clicking "advanced routing codes" and then clicking on the little question mark next to the routing codes box. There is also a useful discussion of how to use this tool to the fullest on Flyertalk. 

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Travel providers like to speculate as to the best time to purchase an airline ticket. Many even claim that certain days of the week are better than others. The IOS and Android app called Hopper has the data to support such a claim, however, and even Apple even named it one of the best apps of 2015.  Hopper’s application uses their accumulated data to predict and analyze airfare. The app will notify you when prices for your flights have hit a low point, according to their algorithms. They’ll also warn you if waiting to purchase may bring a better fare.  Just download the app, do a search for an airfare, and set up the alert. Hopper will track it real time and notify you about changes and purchase recommendations.
If you’re looking for a specific flight on a specific date, Flight Fishing may not be for you. If you’re a bit more adventurous, you may score an exciting airfare. Registering on Flight Fishing allows you to set up a deal alert that could be as specific as one airport to another, from a specific airport to a region, or as general as from your preferred airport to anywhere.
If your itinerary is botched or implodes for some reason, particularly if it affects only you and no one else (such that the airline is not trying to accommodate lots of folks in the same situation), your case for an upgrade on a subsequent flight becomes more compelling. The airline is not obligated to upgrade you, but if this happens, pleasantly but firmly let the gate agents know that if an upgraded seat is available on your rebooked flight, you would greatly appreciate getting that seat.
So, for example, if you really like to take United's morning nonstop between New York and LA, you can track just that flight to see if the price drops to a level you specify, and you'll also get an alert if the price drops between the time you buy and when you fly. Yapta requires that you download an applet, and only works with Internet Explorer 6 or 7, which means it doesn't work on Macs, although a Mac/Firefox version is in the works. And it does not (yet) track fares on all airlines — just 11 so far, and as usual Southwest isn't one of them.
This award and upgrade search is an option for both the Basic and Premium memberships, but the Premium subscription really comes in handy here thanks to the ability to search +/- 3 days from your desired date of travel. This allows you to view a week at a time, and you can also search for multiple fare classes. You can customize the display and even specify whether you want the platform to only return nonstop flights.
Kindness pays, so pay it forward with interest and you could be in first class in the blink of a smile. Andrew Phillips, Senior Technical Manager, recounts his lucky American flight upgrade: “Flying to the US a few years ago, I boarded the plane late (as usual) and there was an old chap sitting down in my seat. The stewardess (who I’d chatted to on the way in) was nearby and heard the guy saying he just wanted to sit next to his wife. I told her I didn’t mind sitting in his seat (it was the row behind I think) and off she went, only to return five minutes later. She asked me to follow her…all the way up to business class!”
Last year, American was upgrading passengers based on both elite status and the time you get on the waiting list (more or less first come, first served). Recently it has changed to priority based on annual spending, and the importance of timing is lessened, but there still seems to be some advantage to getting on the wait list early. Which leads us to the following…

However, Airfarewatchdog.com does not offer individual city pair alerts (although this is in the works); rather, if you sign up for alerts you'll get a list of fares from your chosen airports that the staff believes are unusually good deals. And the site doesn't monitor nearly as many routes and fares as some of the other sites on this list. Uniquely, however, each list of fares from a given airport also includes fares from nearby alternate airports on one page, and you can put your alerts on "vacation hold" for up to a year.
Another important thing to remember is that you do not need to print your boarding pass at the time of online check-in. Many travelers make the mistake of waiting to check-in online until they have access to a printer. Check-in as close to the allowable time and pick up your boarding pass at the airport. With nearly every airline offering several electronic kiosks, gaining a boarding pass will take only a few minutes.
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