6 Things to Know about $19 Airfares and Other Super-Cheap Deals

When you hear about a super-cheap $19 deal, do you start packing or figure it’s too good to be true? Here’s the truth: $19 deals do exist  but not all these super-cheap fares will work for everyone.

LISTEN: Let’s see how much Rick can save you.

Smart tip: Always compare airfares.

Super-Cheap Deals: What to Know to Find Them

Six things to know to find super-cheap deals.

1. Many are available only during off-peak travel periods.

  • You are far more likely to find these deals for travel in the winter months, especially January and February. There are always a few exceptions so it’s possible to find one almost anytime but they are scarce during peak travel times like June, July and August in the U.S. and Europe. An easy way to find a super-cheap deal is by setting an airfare alert.

2. Super-cheap deals may only be good for one-way travel.

  • You’ll avoid a surprise if you know most super-cheap fares advertised by U.S. airlines are for one-way travel (it’ll say so). If you want a round-trip ticket, the total will be more.

3. The round-trip price may not be double the advertised one-way deal.

Say you find a $19 one-way fare.  Just double that and you’ve got the prices of the round-trip ticket, right? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

  • On Frontier Airlines, we recently found $19 one-way fares where the round-trip total worked out to be exactly double, $38. However, some of those $19 deals added up to more than $100 round-trip so you can never assume.
  • On Norwegian Air, we recently found an  advertised deal for New York to Stockholm for $182 one-way, but the return trip was actually cheaper ($175). This is rare, but obviously it can happen.

4. A round-trip deal may be worth it if it’s more than double one-way.

  • A recent sale advertised Denver to Cancun for $59 one-way; the best return fare we could find (at that point in time) was $73 which is obviously a few bucks more than doubling $59, but it’s still a deal. This might be a case of don’t sweat the small stuff.

5. You may have to be flexible to get the best deal.

  • Many incredible deals are often available only on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, or on ‘select dates’ which can mean one or two days a month. Or sometimes you’ll find plenty of deals for the outbound flight, but none for the inbound flight. Check prices and dates carefully before committing and do not book any flight without comparing airfares of other airlines on a comparison search site.

6. Watch out for all those fees.

Airlines most likely to have super-cheap deals are low cost carriers like Frontier, Spirit, Norwegian Air, Wow Air and more but these airlines also have lots of fees. Some charge passengers for a glass of water or a Coke, for carry-on bags, for seat selection. However, there are ways to avoid these fees.

  • Bring lunch from home and an empty water bottle to fill after security.
  • Use a small carry-on that fits under a seat; such bags are often free.
  • Don’t select a seat, let the airline choose for you. You might get charged anyway, but maybe not; if it is free you’ll probably get stuck with a middle seat.

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Updated: February 4, 2016