5 common airline ticket myths debunked

Somewhere I'm sure there are folks who won't mind spending $42,000 for a round-trip flight on Etihad's new super-duper first class –which comes with a shower and butler.

If you’re not that person, then let's bust some myths so you can find the cheapest tickets possible. 

  • 1. Myth #1 - One airline always has the cheapest fares

    FALSE. No airline has a lock on the cheapest fares every time, everywhere because airlines match prices of competitors.  Even ultra-discounter Spirit sometimes costs more than, say, Virgin America, if you add in the cost of a single carry-on and the fee for choosing a seat. This is why you must compare prices. Always.

  • 2. Myth #2 - Buy your tickets super early and you'll save a bundle

    FALSE. Airlines don't begin actively managing their fares for domestic flights until about three to three-and-a-half months ahead (for international flights, about five months). If you buy before that window opens, you'll likely pay a mid-range price. It may not be the most expensive fare but it probably won't be the cheapest, either. Exception: For holiday periods such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can buy earlier.

  • 3. Myth #3 - Wait until the last minute and airlines practically give tickets away

    FALSE: Once upon a time, this used to be true but not since airlines became capacity experts. Now they know when people want to fly and where, so they can fill up planes without a single empty middle seat (or at least very few). This means there are no more last-minute steals.

  • 4. Myth #4 - If you take the long way to your destination, you'll always save

    FALSE. While it is true that adding a stop (or two) to a flight can often save you money, it isn't always the case. This is just one more reason why you must always compare airfare prices including prices for various routes.

  • 5. Myth #5 - Overweight and oversize fees do not apply to carry-on bags

    FALSE: Almost every airline specifies size limits for carry-ons, and an increasing number are adding weight limits. Hawaiian Airlines, for example, allows up to 25 pounds. Ditto for Allegiant. Europe's Ryanair allows a mere 22 pounds. Anything over may cost you an overweight fee and if the airline sends your bag to the cargo hold, you could wind up paying the checked-bag fee.