Have you ever found a great deal on an airline ticket, walked away from your computer for a few minutes, and then returned only to find that the price had gone up? Such frustration is common these days, but airfares haven't always been so fickle. Before the airlines were deregulated in 1978, the government approved ticket prices, which remained so consistent that they were printed in timetables. Today, airfares can change several times a day as airlines attempt to set prices low enough to fill the seats on an aircraft but high enough to maximize profit.
Not only are airfares becoming more unpredictable, they are also becoming more expensive. According to a report by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average domestic fare in the United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico) increased 8.4 percent between 2010 and 2011.Ticket prices for flights originating in Madison, Wis., experienced the greatest increase of any city in the study: a wallet-choking 17.5 percent [source: BTS].
So, is there still any hope for finding cheap airfares? Yes, there is, with a little bit of luck and our five ways to save money on flights.