Which Airline is the Cheapest of Them All?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which airline is the cheapest of them all? Depends! It depends on the day you shop, the days you fly, where you fly, and more. But while finding the cheapest airline may sound complicated, it’s not.

LISTEN: Rick Seaney is a self-professed first-class cheapskate.

How to Find the Cheapest Airline Tickets

You must compare airfares. Yes, it is simple, but it works. If you do not compare you could pay too much because no airline always has the lowest fare. See for yourself in this quiz I put together for USA Today.

Quiz: Which Airline is Cheapest

Answers to the quiz come from fares found on the same day in October, for travel Dec. 6-9. I think you’ll find some surprises here:

1. Which carrier had the cheapest connecting flight between Houston and Cleveland?

  • United
  • Southwest
  • Frontier

Southwest beat the others with a round-trip fare of $200 but you may be surprised to learn United’s fare was only about twenty bucks more. Discounter Frontier often has excellent prices, but its fare for this day and route was nearly $400.

2. Which airline had the cheapest direct flight between Ft. Lauderdale and New York?

  • Spirit
  • United
  • Southwest

Interesting: super-cheap Spirit tied with not-so-cheap United with a fare of $167. Bringing up the rear was Southwest at $200 (but if you travel with checked-bags, factor that in, too, because of Southwest’s free baggage policy).

3. Which airline had the cheapest one-stop flight between Las Vegas and New York

  • Spirit
  • Southwest
  • American

Surprise, surprise, this time American was in the top spot with a round-trip fare of $304 followed by Southwest in second place and Spirit in third. However, Virgin America offered a direct flight for just $312 beating both Southwest and Spirit for price and convenience.

Is Any Airline Always the Cheapest?

No. There is no guarantee the airlines with the cheapest fares in the quiz scenarios will always have the best deals. Airlines can and do change prices all the time based on customer demand for flights, or new competition or other variables, and this can change from day to day. There’s only one solution:

Now go find your deal. And have a wonderful trip.


Updated: October 23, 2015