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Lonely Planet’s guide to cheap flights and smooth landings

Stepping onto a plane is the moment your adventure begins for real. But cheap flights can be tough to find. Find the lowest air fares and irresistible international flights, and follow our expert tips for a smooth landing:

Plan ahead, if you can. Flights usually go on sale up to 11 months in advance of the departure date. On a scheduled airline, this is usually the best time to book airline tickets for cheap (unless there’s a seat sale).

Last-minute flight deals are the holy grail for travelers. Sign up to the email newsletters of your favorite airlines and travel providers so you don’t miss out on cheap airline tickets in a sale.

Want to escape but don’t mind where? Flexibility could help you win those cheap plane tickets. Charter flights are usually operated during peak season to either sunshine or ski resorts, and this is where you could grab that last-minute flight bargain — if you aren’t picky about where you go.

Insomniacs are in luck when it comes to scoring the cheapest flights. Very early and very late departures often have the cheapest plane tickets. Remember to check transport to and from the airport if you’re traveling at unsociable hours.

So you think you’ve found cheap flights to New York? Remember that an airfare is only one part of your journey. Think about your transport costs to and from the airport to make sure you really are getting the lowest air fare.

No patience for flight delays? The first flight of the day is often the most punctual one, as your plane is already there waiting for you.

If you’re flying somewhere snowy, wear your bulkiest items through security (maybe not your skis though). This saves space in your carry-on luggage, plus you’ll be toasty warm when you arrive.