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.