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Learn how to book fares online with our step-by-step guide

SmarterTravel

The best airfare deals are often found online. But airline websites can be confusing to use, because each carrier has a different system to search and book fares. To help you find your way, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to get you inside the booking process.

Find out how to shop for the best airfare. Read How to Book a Flight

The basic information you’ll need to start is your departure and destination cities, your desired travel dates and times, and the number of people in your traveling party. Most websites will ask for those details at the beginning of the booking process, so it helps if you know them up front.

Please note we’ll be adding more airlines to this list soon.

We’ve also listed the phone number for each airline’s reservations desk. Keep in mind, however, that there are some sales that can’t be booked over the phone.

Airlines:

  • American
  • ATA
  • British Airways
  • Continental
  • Delta
  • Frontier
  • JetBlue
  • Midwest
  • Northwest
  • Southwest
  • Spirit
  • United
  • US Airways
  • Air Canada
    Online: http://www.aircanada.com/us-home.html
    Reservations desk: 888-247-2262

    1) To begin the booking process, choose your cities and dates under “Air Canada” on the right side of the page.

    2) To search for deals, click on More Promotions under the “Promotions” tab on the left side of the page.

    3) From a sale page, choose your departure city from the drop-down menu.

    4) On the city page, you can find out more about the sale by clicking “Some conditions apply,” or you can begin the booking process by clicking “Book Now” under the list of sample fares.

    Air New Zealand
    Online: http://www.airnz.com
    Reservations desk: 800-262-1234

    1) To begin the booking process, choose your cities and dates under “Start your booking here” on the left side of the page.

    2) To search for deals, click on the Airfare Specials button on the right side of the page.

    3) Choose a sale from the list, and click on the picture next to the description of the sale.

    4) From within a sale, you can begin the booking process by clicking on the “book now” button.

    AirTran
    Online: http://www.airtran.com
    Reservations desk: 800-247-8726

    1) To begin the booking process, enter your cities and dates under “Reservations” on the right side of the page, and click the “Search” button.

    2) To search for deals, click on Specials on the left side of the page.

    3) From the sale page, scroll down for sample fares and the terms and conditions of the sale.

    4) Begin the booking process by clicking “Book your ticket online now.”

    Alaska
    Online: http://www.alaskaair.com
    Reservations desk: 800-252-7522

    1) To begin the booking process, choose your cities and dates under “Flights and Fares.”

    2) To search for deals, click on “Promotions” at the top of the page, and choose Alaska/Horizon.

    3) Once you’re on a sale page, you can see sample fares, read terms and conditions of the sale, and book your tickets.

    4) To make a reservation online, click on the “Continue” button at the bottom of the page, or click on “Air, Car & Hotel” on the top left of the page, and select “Air.”

    America West
    Online: http://www.americawest.com
    Reservations desk: 800-235-9292

    1) To start the booking process from the home page, click on Air Reservations at the top of the page.

    2) To look for deals, click on Specials at the top of the page.

    3) After choosing a sale, you’ll see terms and conditions listed underneath the sample fares.

    4) To book online, click on ?Make a Reservation? underneath the sale description.

    American
    Online: http://www.aa.com
    Reservations desk: 800-433-7300

    1) To start the booking process from the home page, click on Reservations on the top left of the page.

    2) To look for deals, click on ?Net SAAver & Special Offers? on the left side of the page. To see the full list of sales, click on ?Fare Sales” and then on ?View All,? or you can just click here.

    3) Once you’re on a sale page, you’ll see a list of all the cities included in the sale, along with sample fares, on the right side of the page. Fares are listed alphabetically; if your departure city is not listed, click on the “Next” button to find fares from your city. You can also customize AA.com to show fares from your home airport.

    4) For a more in-depth look at the rules and restrictions of the sale, click on the link below the ?Terms and Conditions? section on the left side of the page.

    5) To begin the booking process, click on a listed fare.

    ATA
    Online: http://www.ata.com
    Reservations desk: 800-435-9282

    1) To begin the booking process, choose your cities and dates under “Reservations: Search and Price” on the right side of the page.

    2) To search for deals, look for notification about sales on the home page under “Sales and Specials,” or click on What’s Hot on the left side of the page.

    3) Inside the sale, you can look for sample fares by clicking on your departure city in the list of links.

    4) To start the booking process, click “Book Online Now” under the list of sample fares.

    British Airways
    Online: http://www.britishairways.com/usa
    Reservations desk: 800-247-9297

    1) To start the booking process, enter your cities and dates under “Book Return Flights,” and click on “Get Flights.”

    2) To look for deals, click on Special Offers.

    3) From inside a deal, click on “Terms and Conditions” for more information about the sale, or enter your cities and dates under “Plan Your Trip.”

    Continental
    Online: http://www.continental.com
    Reservations desk: 800-525-0280

    1) To search for fares and begin the booking process from the home page, enter your travel information under ?Flight.”

    2) To check on what sales are being offered, click on Specials at the top of the page. Any current fare sale will be listed on the left side of the page under ?Fare Sales.?

    3) To book tickets from within a sale, click on ?Purchase your ticket,? or click on the arrow next to a listed sale fare. During the online booking process, look for the gold star symbol that identifies a sale fare.

    Delta
    Online: http://www.delta.com
    Reservations desk: 800-221-1212

    1) To begin the booking process from the home page, click on Reservations on the left side of the page.

    2) To look for deals, click on Special Offers.

    3) Once you’re on a sale page, you can book tickets online by clicking on the “Go” button below the list of sample fares.

    Frontier
    Online: http://www.frontierairlines.com
    Reservations desk: 800-432-1359

    1) To begin the booking process from the home page, enter your cities and dates under “Book A Flight” and click “Go.”

    2) Deals usually appear on the home page.

    3) From inside a deal, you can look at sample fares, scroll down for terms and conditions, or click on “Book Now” to begin the booking process.

    JetBlue
    Online: http://www.jetblue.com
    Reservations desk: 800-538-2583

    1) To start the booking process, click on Book A Flight on the top left of the page. Enter your cities and dates, and click the “Search For Flights” button.

    2) To look for deals, click on “Travel Deals” on the left side of the page, then click the See Deals button.

    3) From within the deal list, click on a listed fare or on the “Buy A Ticket” button to begin the booking process.

    Midwest
    Online: http://www.midwestairlines.com
    Reservations desk: 800-452-2022

    1) To start the booking process, enter your cities and dates under “Express Book” and click the “Submit” button.

    2) To look for deals, go to “Special” at the top of the page, and select Fare Specials.

    3) From within a deal, click on “Go To Booking” below the list of sample fares.

    Northwest
    Online: http://www.nwa.com
    Reservations desk: 800-225-2525

    1) To book tickets from the home page, enter your information under ?Fast Trip Finder.?

    2) To search for deals, click on View All Promotions.

    3) Once you’re on a sale page, you can book tickets online by scrolling down to “Click here to purchase your ticket.” Occasionally, Northwest will require promotion codes, which will be listed on the sale page.

    Southwest
    Online: http://www.southwest.com
    Reservations desk: 800-435-9792

    1) To book tickets from the home page, click on Reservations at the top left of the page.

    2) To see any available deals, click on Click ?N Save, and then on Click ?N Save Weekly Specials.

    3) Once you’re on a sale page, you can book tickets online by clicking on “Reservations” at the top of the page, or scrolling down to “Book your flight today” below the list of sample fares.

    Spirit
    Online: http://www.spiritair.com
    Reservations desk: 800-772-7117

    1) To book tickets from the home page, enter your dates and cities under “Flights and Fares” and click “Search Now.”

    2) Any special sales or deals are usually listed on the home page, in the middle of the page.

    3) Once you’re on a sale page, you can book tickets online by clicking “For reservations, click here” under the list of sample fares.

    United
    Online: http://www.united.com
    Reservations desk: 800-241-6522

    1) To begin the booking process from the home page, enter your travel information under ?Flight Finder.?

    2) To search for fare sales, click on Special Deals on the left side of the page, under ?Planning Travel.?

    3) Once you’re on a sale page, you can book tickets online by clicking on “login to our Reservations System.” Each sale will indicate the symbol that’s associated with it, such as a green check mark, yellow star, or purple arrow. When making reservations, look for the symbol that identifies a fare that’s part of that particular sale.

    US Airways
    Online: http://www.usairways.com
    Reservations desk: 800-428-4322

    1) Enter your travel information under ?Reservations? to begin the booking process from the home page.

    2) Sale fares can be found by clicking on Promotions.

    3) Once you’re on a sale page, you can book tickets online by choosing your route and clicking on the “search” button. If your desired route is not listed, enter it under “Search Additional Cities.”

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