The Golden Rule of Airfare Shopping for 2017

Three little words; maybe you already know them, but they’re well-worth repeating:

Golden Rule of Airfare Shopping – How it Works

The golden rule of airfare shopping almost always pays a dividend, but see for yourself:

1. It helps shoppers find the cheapest flights

If you don’t go to an airfare comparison search site (like my own but there are others), you may not get the cheapest flight. In this example, we searched two different airline sites and one comparison site (on Dec. 19) for Los Angeles-New York fares in January. The results:

  • Airline site #1: Cheapest fare – $407
  • Airline site #2: Cheapest fare – $303
  • Comparison site: Cheapest fare – $257

The comparison site – and yes, we used FareCompare – easily had the best deal.

2. You may see ways to save you didn’t think about

Comparing fares is a good way to see the very cheapest tickets, but it also helps find other kinds of deals like the very cheapest non-stops. While non-stops are typically more expensive than connecting flights, the extra expensive may be worth it for elderly travelers or young children or anyone in a hurry.

3. Comparison sites can be helpful even for miles members

Some are loyal to one airline to amass miles but a comparison site may be helpful for these travelers, too. Example: In the LA-NY fare search above, remember that the cheapest flight found on Airline #1’s website cost $407, but the comparison site found a fare from the same airline for just $265! Granted, that deal did turn up on #1’s site within a few minutes, but what if you’d already completed your shopping by them? Note: This scenario is not necessarily common but it can happen.

4. Don’t forget the final comparison

If traveling within the U.S. or from the U.S. to the Caribbean, always view prices on a comparison siteandSouthwest Airlines; it is the only U.S. carrier that doesn’t share pricing data.


Updated: December 20, 2016