With rates changing daily -- or hourly in some cases -- buying an airplane ticket can seem like a crapshoot. Luckily, there are some trends, as well as some helpful Web sites, that increase your chances of getting the cheapest airfare possible.
Timing is everything when it comes to buying airline tickets. Fares are typically highest from eight to 10 weeks and two to three weeks in advance. The "sweet spot," so to speak, is four to six weeks before you travel, so try to purchase your tickets then. It's also a good idea to avoid shopping for airfare on the weekends. Airlines often announce sales in the middle of the week, so look for good deals on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Still nervous about your airfare purchase? Experiment with Bing.com's flight search. Enter your departure and arrival city, as well as the dates on which you want to fly, and the Web site's price prediction tool will tell you whether prices are rising, falling, or remaining steady, and with what certainty those trends will hold true. Already bought a ticket? If you find the same flight for cheaper, many airlines will refund you the difference in the form of a travel voucher. Enter your flight information into a Web site like Yapta.com, and it will track ticket prices on your flight and inform you if you're eligible for a refund.