I have a lot of friends that go online and buy the cheapest ticket that they can find. This would seem to be a good way to save money, but the reality is that buying the least expensive ticket isn’t always the best way to save money on airline tickets. In fact, it can end up costing you a lot of money in other ways. Over time I have discovered that when it comes to buying airline tickets, cheap doesn’t usually mean the best deal or value. Here area few things that it’s essential to consider which can make the cheapest ticket end up costing you more than a higher priced ticket:
The cheapest ticket for your flight might include a layover. A layover doesn’t sound that bad, right? How about when it’s for more than a few hours in the middle of nowhere? What if the connecting flight is delayed? Depending on your destination, a direct flight might only be slightly more expensive and can give you an extra half a day or more at your destination. It also greatly reduces the risk that you luggage gets lost. When time is money or the time you’re going to be spending with family or friends is valuable, losing time to save a few bucks often doesn’t necessarily make financial sense.
One way to get a cheaper ticket is to fly out of a less popular airport, but saving a few bucks to leave from an airport farther away can come with costs. If you take a taxi or shuttle, the cost of transportation will be more. It may be more difficult to find a friend to take you. You will spend more time getting their and back. While these won’t necessarily make the ticket price more, they can so it’s important to take this into consideration.
Sometimes the least expensive ticket comes with a layover. it’s important to consider the price of the hotel you will need to book, the cost of getting from the airport to the hotel and back (including tips) that you would not have had to pay. There may also be extra costs for meals not to mention the lost time at your destination if you had taken a direct flight. All this can quickly make a ticket that seems like a great deal a lot more expensive.
A lot of major airlines tack on a processing fee or tax after you decide on a flight. You usually know that this fee is coming since it is so prevalent these days. The same is true with a baggage fee, although there are some people that like baggage fees. Many of the cheaper airlines, however, have hidden fees associated with their tickets in addition to that processing fee or tax. For instance, British Airways charges a fee just for booking with a credit card! Worst of all, sometimes you won’t know about these outrageous fees until after you plug-in your credit card information. By that time, your “cheap” flight can be same price as the more convenient flight you could have chosen instead.
While hidden fees might appear after you purchase your ticket, some of the cheaper airlines charge you a check-in fee for just checking into the airport! While it might be as low as $10 or $20, that’s still $10 or $20 you wouldn’t have to pay for other tickets. Add this to other unexpected fees and the ticket price may be nowhere near the price you originally thought you would be paying for your flight.
Cheap airlines often have a limited number of planes and worse, a very tight schedule. Sometimes they’ll try to pack as many flights into a day as they can. Of course, this occasionally leads to malfunctions which leads to delays. getting a ticket on an airline that is running a thin fleet can cause major problems if there is a mechanical problem. In this situation, you’d be stuck without a new flight or might miss your connecting flight at another airport. Do you really want to risk having to spend money on a second plane ticket after the first ticket didn’t pan out?
Some of these cheaper airlines refuse to refund passengers if their flight is cancelled, rerouted, or they miss a connecting flight with the airline. This is usually printed in very fine print at the bottom of the ticket or the company’s website. If you happen to have a cancelled flight, it’s money you’re still losing out on.
Many of the cheaper airlines will try to scare customers into buying travel insurance. For instance, JetBlue “recommends” that passengers purchase insurance for their trip in case of an emergency. While it might not seem like a bad idea to buy $15 travel insurance, you’re actually not buying anything worthwhile. You might get some fees refunded, but most airlines refuse to cover lost or stolen luggage over $500 or $1000. There is also a good chance that you are covered by your homeowner’s policy or credit card (be sure to check), and it’s important to note that airline tickets is one of those purchase you should make with a credit card due to the benefits they provide.
Change of Information
We all make mistakes and sometimes you realize that you entered your name wrong, entered the wrong departure time, or picked the wrong destination. These are usually things you can call and change, but while some major airlines will change it for no fee, buying the cheapest ticker may hit you with a $100 fee. Did you book a ticket way in advance and then have to change the time because of unforeseen circumstances? Well, then your cheap ticket is probably going to cost you the same price as a more convenient ticket would have.
(Photo courtesy of Vox Efx)