Why it pays to shop around for airfare!
Let’s face the facts. Airfares have been on the rise, and when you add in all the extra fees, bargains are hard to come by! Additionally, “seat comfort” on airplanes is really an oxymoron too. But, sometimes you can score a business or first class seat for a small additional fee. You just have to be willing to look around! Of course, some of the low cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit can save money, but know that they have numerous extra fees involved. Southwest is the only US carrier that does not charge for checked nor carry on bags, and they have a liberal change and refund policy. The legacy carriers like United, Delta and American also have extra fees; however, with a little research, and a bit of luck, it’s possible to find yourself in the front of the plane! Here’s a recent, real life example encountered by this writer! While planning a winter trip to Florida, I was looking at airfare from Philadelphia to Orlando. I know that I can book a low cost carrier but I wanted to check out all of my options. I found a $201 one way fare on American Airlines that goes nonstop, leaving around 3 PM. That’s great, but it does not include checked bags, and if I want a seat with more room, I’d have to pay extra. Out of curiosity, I looked at first class. For just $293, I could sit the front of the plane, in a lie-flat seat (yes, for a flight that’s under 3 hours!!) and get 2 FREE bags, plus a nice snack and a couple of adult beverages. If I booked in coach, I would pay $60 to check 2 bags, and up to $61 MORE dollars for a premium seat (for instance, in the front row of coach, or an exit row). Well, add another $120 to the $201 and for $30 LESS I can fly in first class. My choice was pretty simple! Could I have saved money? Sure, but my comfort is priceless and it’s nice to spoil yourself sometimes, right? I’ll be flying home on my favorite low cost carrier as I have a travel voucher from them that I need to use-but I will always check all my options prior to booking! There really is no perfect time to buy airfare. Research and patience will pay off. You should have an idea in mind of how much you’re comfortable paying. Google Flights is a good place to start but know that they will not show fares for Southwest, so you’ll have to check those on your own. Google flights will also allow you to receive email alerts when the price on your route changes. Moral of the story: before you hit that PURCHASE key, make sure that you check ALL your options! Who knows…you may be joining me up front, and enjoying a nice meal instead of a bag of pretzels!!