#IYKYK …

The moment you figure out that you really can book $200 round-trip tickets to Europe, your life changes forever. The idea of travel becomes less a question of “how” and more a matter of “Where to?” Start spreading the news—it’s never been cheaper to fly, and with a minimal amount of work, you can cash in. It’s a matter of decoding airline jargon, doing some pre-planning research, and getting acquainted with travel professionals. Here, we answer all your questions about how to find cheap flights.

How cheap is a ‘cheap’ flight?

“Cheap” is always relative, depending on your budget and needs, but we have a few guidelines in the office for what counts as a good deal from the U.S. Flights to Europe at or under $400 round-trip are a go. Getting to Northern Africa for less than $500 is a steal. Round-trips to South America at or under $500 are also great, and a number that applies to flights to Asia, too. Going farther afield, anything under $1,000 is a stellar deal for southern Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

That said, if you see a flight that’s cheap enough to make you want to book, go for it. The “grass is greener, flight is cheaper” mentality of waiting for the least expensive flight will make you miss out on some great (and yes, cheap) flights.

How do you get to fly for free?

This one’s simple on the surface: Use points. It’s the earning of those points that can seem complicated and overwhelming. While our best advice is to pick an airline and stick with it, as best you can, finding the perfect frequent flier program requires a little researching, and asking yourself three questions. How easy is it to earn points? (The quicker you earn, the quicker you can spend.) Where do this airline fly? (You want access to places you actually want to go.) And how easy it is to spend your points? (There’s no need to complicate this.) While there’s no one-size-fits-all airline rewards program, we have a few U.S.-based favorites:

* Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Alaska is one of the few traditionalists left that rewards you based on the number of miles you fly, instead of how much you spend. Short flights start at just 10,000 miles, so you don’t have to fly that far to start redeeming points.

* JetBlue’s TrueBlue: The perk here is that your points never expire. So as you earn three points per dollar (or six points per dollar, if you book directly on JetBlue’s site), you know that they’re piling up, big time, into a treasure trove of free flights. When it comes to booking said rewards flights, there are no blackout dates.

* Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards: Southwest’s rewards program is strong, especially if you make frequent domestic trips. Your reward comes from dollars spent, based on fare class—that’s six points per dollar on “Wanna Get Away” tickets; 10 points per dollar on “Anytime” tickets; & 12 points per dollar on “Business Select” tickets. When it comes to redeeming there are no blackout dates, no change fees or cancellation fees.

* United Airlines’ MileagePlus: You can earn & spend points on flights with 28 airlines to & from more than 1,100 destinations, thanks to United’s StarAlliace partnership. The huge route network, in & out of the U.S., is key here, & makes the complicated MileagePlus redemption plan worth it. Your best bet is to use the points calculator tool to work out how many points you need to get a free flight, & work backwards from there.

Published by livelovetravelllc

Welcome to LiveLoveTravel.com My name is Brie and I've been a #travelbug and full of #wanderlust since I was a little girl. You may wonder why start a travel blog ... EVERYONE is doing!? Right ... Wrong!!!

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