Step 1. Use Itasoftware to determine best dates to fly.
Even though you can’t buy tickets on this site, I like it for two reasons: 1) if your travel dates are a little flexible, Ita helps you quickly determine the cheapest days to fly and 2) you can eliminate tight/risky connections and search via airline (both very important to me).
Step 2. Use Kayak to find the best deals.
As you begin to search for the best prices, you will somehow end up with 18 windows open on your computer, with different prices and itineraries on each one.
Step 3. Decide which ticket you want to buy. Then click through to realize those prices aren’t available anymore “due to the dynamic nature of the travel industry.”
Steps 4 thru 36. Spend the next 4 hours searching through various websites and itineraries and then cross referencing those with your frequent flyer plan to see if any of your favorite flights are available for purchase with miles (they aren’t).
Step 37. Finally decide that you are in the weeds, choose a date, choose a time and buy the damn tickets.
See it’s that simple! I don’t know what I was so worked up about.