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As Low-Fare Airlines Expand, Here’s How To Track the Best Deals

Frontier Airlines is dramatically expanding its domestic footprint, adding 85 new routes and 21 new destinations. And that may force other carriers to be more price competitive.

The budget carrier has become a favorite among deal-seekers by occasionally lowering its fares to $20. While competitors like Delta and United are unlikely to match that price, they may find it necessary to offer discounts on some routes to woo customers. And that makes comparison shopping more important than ever.

Sites like Priceline, Travelocity, and Orbitz can help when you’re looking for specific dates, but if you’re looking to grab the absolute best deals, there are a number of other services that can help.

Slickdeals – Crowdsourcing is probably the best way to stay alert to pop-up sales—and few sites do deal-based crowdsourcing better than Slickdeals. Create an account, then set up deal alerts for any airlines that fly from your chosen airport. You’ll not only be notified of low fares, but you can find promo codes as well.

Scott’s Cheap Flights – Founder Scott Keyes and his team have an uncanny knack for finding rock-bottom prices for international flights (recent deals include Atlanta to Lima for $165—versus a normal roundtrip price of $800—and flights to the Turks & Caicos in the $200-$300 range from dozens of cities). The newsletter has both a free and paid option. The free option offers plenty of updates, but avid travelers (and deal hounds) may want to spring for the paid version.

Airfarewatchdog – You can set up regular price alerts for favorite routes, but the real appeal for cheapskates with wanderlust is this site’s Top 50 Fares of the Day page. This tracks bargain airfares from Frontier, JetBlue, and other carriers prone to slash prices, as well as larger airlines. (Sample deal from earlier Wednesday: $40 for a roundtrip flight from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas).

Skyscanner – Not sure where you want to go, but know you need to get out of town? Skyscanner will list all of the fares from your city to popular destinations, searching for the lowest possible price. You can set up alerts, but those are only dispatched once a week, which makes them fairly useless for pop-up sales.

SecretFlying – Like Airfarewatchdog, this site looks for the best overall deals, though you’ll have to be flexible on your dates. It’s updated frequently, though it tends to focus only on major travel hubs.