Want to know what’s true and what isn’t when it comes to airfare? Surprisingly, some myths actually have their roots in truth. Knowing fact from fiction can help you steer clear of bad information on your next booking.
Myth: Airfare Is Cheapest To Buy on Tuesdays
You can find a deal on airfare any day of the week. Tuesdays are no longer special days to book airfare. Scott’s Cheap Flights Member Operations Specialist Willis Orlando shared the interesting history behind this myth.
“This myth has stuck around in part because it used to be true. A couple of decades ago, when airlines moved their ticket sales online, there would be a set day and time when airlines would upload their prices for the week, say Tuesday at 1 p.m. This meant if you wanted the best fares, you’d want to swoop in quickly after the fares were uploaded to buy them.”
“This hasn’t been the case for quite a while. Now airfare is largely determined algorithmically, and is changing by the day, and sometimes even by the hour.”
Tuesdays are, however, one of the cheaper days to fly.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for cheap airfare, these smart tips can help you score a deal.
Myth: You Can Charm Your Way Into an Upgrade
Gone are the days when your beautiful smile and a little treat slipped to the gate agent or attendant will get you an upgrade. Don’t get us wrong, flight attendants do appreciate a little gift, but it’s not going to result in an upgrade.
The process of upgrading to a premium seat has been automated in recent years. There’s a list of who is eligible for upgrades first, which is based on status. Upgrades given to passengers who do not have status with the airline are extremely rare.
Pro Tip: If you want some better strategies for an upgrade, take a look at this article, which has some ideas for upgrading with points, bidding on an upgrade, buying a sale fare, or offering to be bumped.
International Airfare Is Expensive
Verdict: Mostly false.
If you’re an infrequent traveler and have always dreamed of going abroad, you probably have a number in your head of what a flight to your destination will cost.
And you would be wrong (but in a good way). Airfare is more affordable than ever before.
Orlando says their team regularly sees flights to Europe from major U.S. cities for as low as $300 roundtrip, and from smaller, regional airports as low as $500 roundtrip.
Orlando reveals a number of factors have gone into the low price tag you can get for international airfare.
“The idea that international airfare is outrageously expensive is another myth that sticks around because it used to be, and sometimes still is, true,” he says. “In the early days of air travel, international flights really were only for the wealthy (just think of the gaudy image conjured by the Frank Sinatra song, ‘Come Fly With Me’). But after the industry was deregulated in the U.S. in the late ‘70s, different pricing models and more competition emerged, which has put strong downward pressure on prices. Airlines now split their seats into various pricing tiers in an attempt to maximize both the number of tickets sold, and the amount of revenue per seat.”
“That said, if you’re inflexible and set on a certain route, on certain dates, booked at a particular time, you can still surely end up paying $1,000+ roundtrip to fly economy to Europe. But if you’re flexible and strategic, there are amazing international fares to be had.”
Pro Tip: If you can be a little flexible with your dates and watch for deals, you can get a great fare to almost anywhere you want to go.
Earlier Bookings Are the Cheapest
Verdict: Mostly false.
Airfare that’s booked far in advance (like almost a year ahead of time) is not necessarily the cheapest. While it’s a good idea to make plans in advance, you may not see the best savings by booking so early.
Take this example from Salt Lake City to Paris. The Google Flights calendar for 2022 shows a lot of fares over $1,000. However, industry experts know this route will go on sale at any given time throughout the year.
Stuart Cooke of MyBaggage.com reveals airlines don’t start managing the numbers and prices of a specific flight until a few months beforehand. He says you might get a better deal two to three months before the date of the trip as opposed to booking it right away.
Pro Tip: Set up a fare alert for the flight you’re looking at. If you’re booking with a little advance time, you’ll likely see a great sale before the date of your trip.
Premium Seats Are About Double the Cost of an Economy Ticket
If you’re thinking the cost of a business-class seat is about twice the cost of your economy ticket, you’ll be surprised to learn it’s often five to ten times the number you’re thinking of. It’s especially high on longer flights across the globe to places like Australia or Singapore, where business and first class run in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Take a look at this first class seat to Dubai for $14,000 round trip. Compare that to the cost of an economy seat under $1,000. It’s a dramatic difference and the reason why it’s so hard to splurge on a nice seat.
Pro Tip: Take a look at these smart ways of saving money on a business-class seat.
You Need to Be a Millionaire to Fly First Class
First class does come with a hefty price tag, but there are some really creative ways you can earn your way into a fancy seat.
Many travelers have found that the cost of an upgraded seat makes a lot more sense if you use credit card points and rewards. Learning how to book on a partner airline or even buying miles to redeem in first class can help you get into the fancy seats at a lower cost.
Pro Tip: If you want to get started in the points and miles world, take a look at this article, What is Travel Hacking--and Should You Be Doing It?
Searching Incognito for the Lowest Price on Airfare
One rumor circulating around social media seems to indicate that searching incognito for airfare can lower the price. The reasoning? Consumers believe travel companies are tracking their online behavior and increasing prices upon a return to the website. When consumers see a little price increase, it may trick them into booking something so the price doesn’t increase any more.
Kelly Soderlund of travel and expense platform TripActions revealed that websites are not tracking you and increasing the price upon a revisit. “There are caches and a million other reasons why you might see higher prices upon a return visit to a flight search,” she says.