How to find the cheapest flights for your next big trip

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Most airlines are giving you less for more these days.   Leg room is shrinking, seats are getting smaller and meals have become snacks at best.  Despite that, the cost of flights is going up.  But there are ways to save big bucks.

The first tip is don't book your trip over the phone.  It seems quick and easy, but that human contact can cost $50 or more.  The internet is your best bet to find cheap flights.  You can also sign up for "fare tracker" alerts and they will let you know when prices plummet.   CheapAir is one of the most popular sites, but there are many.

Travelers can also follow airlines on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook for great, last-minute deals.  Keep in mind, others are also following, so those deals can be snatched up in no time.

Another easy tip to stretch your dollar is to go directly to an airlines website.  In some cases, airline flights are only listed at their specific website like Southwest.

if you don't want to go to each airlines' website, look for deals using Meta Search sites like Kayak.  They will find the best deals for you and tell you when and where to buy it.  Two other such sites are Fly.com, & TripAdvisor.com.

Google also has a great flight feature that allows you to search locations for the best deals on flights and entire vacations.   You can look by state, by country, even by continent.  The deals are displayed on a map, and you just click on which ones you want to see and when you want to fly.

For those flying with a group, it's often cheaper to separate out the flights instead of buying them in bulk.  The last tip to save money depends on the day you leave and return.  If you can fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, that's when airlines offer the cheapest deals.