You’ve just seen a great airfare sale, maybe in our Deals Blog, maybe on an airline site. You look for one of the advertised prices but can’t find it. Is this a scam? No. But there are things you must know in order to find a super-cheap sale ticket.
LISTEN: End the frustration!
5 Reasons You Can’t Find the Airfare Deal
- Deals can sell out
Maybe the sale you’re looking at doesn’t expire for two more days, but you can’t find the deal you want. Possible reason: The deals were already purchased by other shoppers; the inventory has sold-out. Sale seats are finite in number (usually) and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Tip: When you are alerted to a sale, check out the deals immediately.
- Missed the advance purchase deadlines
Some sales require advance purchase of one or two weeks or even 21 days before you fly. If you are looking for a flight sooner than the advance booking requirement, you probably won’t find it.
Tip: Read the fine print.
- Failed to follow required travel dates
Two things to watch for that we sometimes forget about.
- Blackout dates: These are dates that are excluded from a sale and usually include holiday travel periods and other popular dates such as Spring Break in the U.S. and the vacation months of June, July and August.
- Excluded days: These often include Fridays and Sundays because they are popular days to fly (and the airlines will have no problem selling these tickets at the regular non-sale prices). Some sales are even stricter, offering their best deals for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only.
Tip: Try to be as flexible as possible with your itinerary.
- Failure to add in the fees
You may think you got the best deal, but maybe you didn’t – especially if you failed to add in the fees. This example of round-trip airfare for a flight between Los Angeles and New York (November 2015) illustrates the point:
- Spirit: $422
- Southwest: $442
At first glance it appears Spirit has the better deal, but Spirit charges for both carry-ons and checked-bags. That will push Spirit’s fare higher than Southwest’s in this instance, thanks to Southwest’s free bags policy.
Tip: Don’t ding your credit card until after you peruse the fees.
- Best deals are not refundable
You found a deal but need to change it. Not so fast! Most sale tickets are non-refundable and the airlines will not provide reimbursement even in dire situations*; they will, however, change your ticket for a fee of to $200. The alternative is to pay more for a refundable ticket or fly Southwest which has no change fee.
*Tip: Never rely on an airline to show mercy in such cases. It happens, but it is not the norm.