But no matter which way you slice it, booking flights is a laborious exercise in searching, searching some more, and then when you think you’ve exhausted all the avenues, finding another option to search.
(At least that’s what it’s like for me to book flights. But some people might say I’m a wee bit pedantic about these things).
There are three distinct factors that go into any flight search, and they’re not necessarily harmoniously correlated. Depending on your own situation and priorities, your flight searches might be biased towards any one of the three:
The lowest priced airfare usually has crappy connections, obscene flight times, or routes to obscure airports that are costly to get to and from.
The best connections might save you a stressful layover, but it might behoove you to consider overland connections or other more time-consuming (yet cheaper) options.
And the best routing will practically deliver you from door to door, but at what cost (and are the connections reasonable)?
One of my best tips for booking flights is to start with the flight search engines (like Yapta or Kayak) to see what your options are, but to book directly with the airline. You might find an even better route/connection/price on the airline’s website, and if things go haywire while you’re in transit you can deal with the airline directly at the airport, instead of an obscure website that can’t actually assist you in your time of need.
Here are some more tips (and war stories) for balancing Route, Connections, and Price to get the best flight for your needs: