Finding Cheap Airfare: Flight 'Quality of Service Index' Scores

A great tip to help you find cheap flights is to know your airline’s Quality of Service Index score for any flight you’re interested in. Bottom line: Flexibility will save you money.

Listen as Rick Seaney and Anne McDermott ask the question: What makes a good flight good?

What is the Quality of Service Index?

The QSI is a kind of scoring system based on factors passengers think are most valuable in a flight. The more value a flight has, the higher quality score it commands and of course, the airlines charge higher prices for higher scoring flights.

5 Tips for Finding Cheapest Flights Every Time

What makes one flight more valuable than another?

A variety of factors, including:

  • Departure time: Dawn flights are often cheaper because passengers don’t want to get up early.
  • Non-stop flights: These are generally seen as more valuable than connecting flights which take longer to arrive at destinations and have the inconvenience of additional airport stops.
  • Day of week: Typically, the cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and often Saturday.
  • Frequency of departures: Often airlines with multiple daily departures on a particular route will have cheaper flights.

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Connecting Flights vs. Non-Stops

As mentioned, connecting flights usually save you money and this is nowhere more evident than on flights to Europe – I’ve seen non-stop airfare prices 20 percent to 40 percent higher than connecting flights to several cities on the Continent. This can mean a difference of $500 in flights – or two nights in a nice hotel. A question to ask yourself: What is the convenience of a non-stop flight worth to me?

Good rule of thumb: Don’t fly when everyone wants to fly – popular departure times and days of the week as well as non-stops have the most value and therefore generally will cost you more.


Published: June 26, 2012