7 Air Travel Myths – Fact and Fiction

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We’ve all been there. Someone says, “This is THE trick to finding the cheapest airfare ticket” and so begins a long and confusing explanation that leaves you wondering what’s real and what’s myth. We’re here to help, to bust some air travel myths, sort fact from fiction, and save you some money.

Myth #1: Your favorite cheap airline always has the best deal.

False. No airline always has the cheapest deals, not even Frontier or Spirit or Ryanair. A recent look at winter weekend fares from Los Angeles to San Francisco showed Spirit with a very competitive price of $103 round-trip – but two other airlines had cheaper fares!

Tip: Always compare fares; it’s the only way to find the cheapest price.

Myth #2: Buy airline tickets as early as possible.

Air Travel Myths - Early Bird Myth

False. Airlines don’t begin actively managing their fares for domestic flights until about three to three-and-a-half months before departure (and for international flights, make that five months). Buy earlier and you’ll likely pay a mid-range price – which is usually more than you’d pay if you wait.

Tip: Because of the popularity of holiday travel periods like Thanksgiving in the U.S. or Christmas in much of the world, in these instances you can shop a few weeks or even a month or two earlier than normal.

See the best times to buy, best times to fly.

Myth #3: Find the best deals with last-minute ticket purchases.

False: Not so long ago, airlines did offer last-minute bargains but since then they’ve become extremely adept at cutting capacity and understanding shopper demand. In other words, now they routinely fill up their planes so there’s no need for last-minute deals; they’ve sold all their tickets.

Tip: If you do wait until the last minute to shop, you will almost always pay the same extremely high prices business travelers do. When possible, book flights least seven days in advance on ultra discount carriers such as Spirit or from two to four weeks before departure for other airlines.

Myth #4: Connecting flights are always cheaper than non-stops.

Air Travel Myths - non-stop Myth

False: But before you decide to fly non-stops only, you need to know that connecting flights are often cheaper – not always, but often. So when you shop, compare non-stops with connecting flights so you don’t overlook possible savings (which means, don’t click the ‘Non-stop only’ box).

Tip: Sometimes, enduring a longer connecting flight can save 50% or more over the price of a non-stop.

Myth #5: All economy class seats are equal.

False: American, Delta and United now offer Basic Economy as well as standard economy; the trade-off is cheaper seats for fewer amenities – including seat selection and in some cases, a free carry-on bag.

Tip: This is not so different from the way no-frills, ultra cheap airlines operate; just be sure you know what you’re giving up to get your cheaper seat and be sure it’s worth it.

Myth #6: Cram as much as possible into that free carry-on bag.

Air Travel Myths - Overweight Bag Myth

False: First of all, not all carry-ons are free (you’ll pay for them on Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit). Second, more and more airlines are posting size and weight limits for carry-ons and if a bag is too big or too heavy, airline reps will take it from you to stow in cargo. You may even get dinged for a checked-bag fee or an overweight bag fee – or both!

Tip: A squashy, duffle type bag can often conform to most size limits; just watch the weight. If your bag is taken from you, first remove all must-haves from the bag like electronics, charger cords, and medications and carry these items on your person.

Myth #7: You cannot open an airplane door in midflight.

True: Yet, every now and then, we hear crazy stories about passengers who do try to open airplane doors in mid-flight. The good news is, they can try all they want but it can’t be done, according to an aviation blogger (and other aircraft experts). This has to do with the difference in pressure inside and outside a plane in flight.

Tip: Don’t even think of trying this; you could wind up getting arrested or a flight attendant might stop you by smashing a bottle of wine over your head.

Now, start shopping and have a mythically wonderful trip.

Anne McDermott
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