In the quest for Cheap Fares – Seven Common Mistakes

I love saving money on my airfares. I have scored some great deals such as Business Class seats that have saved me thousands for a few tweaks of date or destination airport.

These are the seven biggest mistakes I find people make in saving money on travel:

  1. Unreliable Airlines: When things go wrong, how likely is the airline going to be to help you? Is the airline selling cheap fares because they are in financial trouble?
  2. Expensive Extras:  Many customers though get “nickled and dimed”, saving money on a cheap fare, only to find they have spent much more on these “extras”. Some airlines even charge you extra to print a boarding pass. That’s why the airline industry made over $US25billion from ancillaries. If you are only taking a small carry on, do not care where you sit and won’t eat on board, then the cheap fare you see, will be the cheap fare you pay.
  3. Distant airports: The worst culprits are in Europe where Norwegian and Ryanair use airports that are nowhere near the city. For example, Norwegian flies to Oslo-Torp Airport which is 110km (60 miles) away from downtown! It is a $US68 round trip bus ride. Add that to your fare plus factor in the extra two hours transit. Frankfurt Hahn (Code: HHN) airport is not the same as Frankfurt Main Airport (Code: FRA). HHN is a two hours $USD 22.40 bus ride from downtown
  4. Comfort: Most airlines have standardised to fairly similar legroom but that extra inch can mean a lot. Spirit’s standard legroom is 28″ while on JetBlue you get 34″. Some airlines still do not charge for exit row seats or charge less than others!
  5. Pricey Food: On a long flight, an airline that serves enough decent food means you save money buying expensive airline food -and usually have a much nicer trip. For example, between Australia and Asia, Scoot’s buy on board meals are very pricey and quality dubious. I have found on some fares, that factoring in these meal costs make Singapore or Emirates much more attractive
  6. Terrible Timings: You may save money leaving at 5 am but if that costs you your sanity and sleep, is it worth it? Or if you land after midnight and the only way of getting to the airport is by an expensive night service taxi , you may find you have spent more on a taxi than you saved on airfare.
  7. Awful connections: Sure you saved $40 but you spent the night on an airport bench in Houston because of that five hour middle of the night layover! Hipmunk is great for helping you compare flight durations. On that note: spending a day searching for an airfare that will save you $20 is also not a productive use of time

Any other fare mistakes? What was your worst mistake?

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Comments

  1. I think a few additional things that can catch people by surprise is finding a super cheap or mistake type fare, booking it and then figuring out that there is a lot of additional cost for a visa to visit that place. Brazil used to be one that would sneak up on people but China is more common now. The one I have to be careful of is I tend to book a lot of unprotected connections and that can lead to high departure (non-transiting) taxes in places like CDG or LHR.

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