Did you get your tickets yet? Plane travel is expensive. When I was younger, I collected airline points for free trips but that became irritating and almost stifling so I stopped. Now I just look for the best price I can find with the shortest trip available. It still feels like the best way for me. The cheapest is economy class. The best prices seem to show up 3-4 months in advance of travel; check prices at least weekly on different days of the week. With the internet, you can be your own travel agent tracking down prices on the various travel sites. Trying moving your travel dates sooner and later by a day or two to see if there are any amazing price differences.
When you are traveling economy class, the airline with the great reviews may not be the best for you. Look at the reviews from economy class travelers. Generally, I don’t like to feel cramped and don’t like paying for a package of peanuts. (But that is just me!) I am partial to British Airways and Air France but there are other good airlines out there (e.g., Lufthansa, Malaysian Airways and Aer Lingus). Some airlines have such cramped seating, my shoulders are wider than the seat; that is not a good sign. Passengers are more prone to sickness in such quarters. Be aware of what you are purchasing. (I always ask for an aisle seat but don’t always get what I ask for.)
Carefully consider the number of connections and the length of any layovers. Showing up for Day One of your vacation exhausted and good for nothing but sleep is not an economy. I frequently run into people who have been traveling almost a day more than needed to get a better price. I don’t call that a better deal. Of course, if you have the time and patience to put up with the grueling pace and the greater potential for missed connections, it might work for you. (As my Worst Travel Experience post indicates, I have developed a phobia about missed connections.) Sometimes a longer trip makes sense. If you will need to travel forever, say Boston to South Africa, you may even want to spend a day or two at a European stop over. You can get horizontal (which after hours on the road can be a godsend) and maybe even have a mini vacation before you reach your destination.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” —Henry Ford
Buy it. Read it. And let me know what you think.