Is cheap always better?

planeIt never fails.  Someone will find cheap airfare they just can’t pass up.  But there are some pitfalls that you need to be aware of before booking the “too good to be true” airfare that you found.

Plane changes

Typically nonstop flights will cost more than a flight that requires stops and/or plane changes.  You might think that a slightly longer flight or the inconvenience of having to change planes is worth it.  But be careful.  Winter flights are a great example.  With plane changes in one of many northern airports, you might find yourself stuck half way to your final destination.  A flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta might not be a big deal during the winter, except when you change planes in Chicago and ultimately get snowed in and stuck there.   Another issue is short plane changes.  The airlines will offer you short connections, as short as 30 minutes.  If your incoming flight is late by just 10-20 minutes you may miss your connection.  And there’s no saying how soon the airline can get you on another flight to your final destination.  If that was the last outgoing flight of the day, you won’t get an outbound flight until the next day.

Forget changing planes, how about changing AIRPORTS?

This is an issue in large cities with more than one airport.  Two prime examples are New York City and London.  You may fly into La Guardia ariport in New York but your departing flight in 2 hours is out of JFK.  And you have to get yourself to the next airport, it’s not the airline’s responsibility.  A late flight combined with gnarly traffic, and you might miss your connection (but your luggage will probably make it).  In London your flight may come into Heathrow airport, but your next flight might depart out of Gatwick.  Again, you are responsible for getting yourself to the next airport.  And if you aren’t familiar with the city you are in, that can be challenging and/or expensive.

It may look cheap, until you factor in taxes and fuel surcharges.

Recently there have been incredibly cheap flights advertised by some of the airlines.  But they are not required to include the taxes or fuel surcharges in the initial price they advertise.  So you see a great deal – fly to Europe for $259 per person!  Who could pass that up?  But once you add in the fuel surcharges and taxes the true per person total is closer to $540 per person.  Always ask about taxes and fuel surcharges in order to get the true price, before you provide anyone with your credit card information.