Cheap Flights 101


You’ve found the cheapest dates and the best airport, and now you think you’ve found the cheapest fare. Not so fast—you’ve got one more step. If you’ve found a great deal on an America West flight, check out America West’s website. Why? You’ll often find a better deal directly from the airline. And even if price is the same, buying directly from the airline will save you the search engine’s booking fee—usually around $5—and you’ll have a better chance at changing tickets or refunding your money if something goes wrong. Finally, some airlines guarantee the lowest rates from their own websites, backed up with special offers for those who find cheaper fares elsewhere.

That said, if you found an eye-popping deal on a search engine that utilizes multiple carriers, take it—the hassle of pricing individual flights in a multiple-leg, multiple-carrier itinerary will drive you batty, to say nothing of accidentally landing in New York’s JFK Airport when you fly out of La Guardia in 15 minutes.

To go the extra mile, quickly eyeball the budget airlines’ websites that fly out of the airports nearest you. Often, their rates manage to fly, so to speak, under the radar of the major search engines, so it can pay to target them directly. On a recent check, Airtran posted $76 fares between Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale, Southwest had fares for $99 or less from more than 30 cities, and JetBlue had fares from numerous cities starting at $39. Frontier, Independence Air, Spirit, and ATA also post web deals. Many of these low-cost airlines also have weekly or monthly newsletters that announce web-only deals, which is a great way to keep abreast of new deals.

Published: 15 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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