7 Air Travel Myths – Fact and Fiction

Air Travel Myths

We’ve all been there. Someone says, “This is THE trick to finding the cheapest airfare ticket” followed by a long and confusing explanation that leaves you wondering what is real and what is just a myth. Let’s break through that confusion, bust some air travel myths, and save you some money in the process.

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

False. No airline always has the cheapest prices, not Frontier, not Spirit, not Ryanair, none of them. But many assume their favorite discounter will always come through for them, so they don’t bother to compare. Bad move!

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 waited.

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: Some of the best deals are available at the last minute

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, airlines now routinely fill up their planes so there’s no need for last-minute discounting.

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 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.

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 worse, an overweight bag fee (up to $200 on domestic flights).

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: Every now and then, we hear crazy stories about passengers who do try to open airplane doors in mid-flight. The good news is, it can’t be done (according to several aviation 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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