10 Secrets Of Air Travel Insiders

FareCompare’s Rick Seaney shares Top 10 Secrets Of Air Travel Insiders. We hadn’t heard number 6 before:

Fly the Big Hubs – Usually – A bigger airport can mean bigger savings.

If you’re in a medium to small sized city, it may pay to drive to the nearest big-city and fly from there; if you’re in Los Angeles, LAX is usually cheaper than Burbank. Competition drives prices down — the more competition the better the prices

This only works when there is competition, for instance, Cincinnati travelers can sometimes get better deals out of Columbus and Dayton, since Delta lords over Cincinnati. Other tips reveal the cheapest days of the week to travel and how date flexibility is the key to airfare deals.

Top Ten Secrets of Air Travel Insiders [RickSeaney]
(Photo: Ben Popken)


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  1. UpsetPanda says:

    I agree with a lot of them, especially flying to Europe on discounted airlines. I flew to France with Lufthansa and while I loved it, if I needed to save a lot more money I would’ve gone with a smaller airline.

  2. Nick says:

    Wow, I thought flying out of big hubs was “secret” number one that everyone knew about. Of course, when there is only one major airport in your entire state, having known this tip for years doesn’t really do much good. ;-)

  3. jamesdenver says:

    Exactly. These aren’t secrets. It’s overstating the obvious.

    Also most discount fares and low cost carriers are far cheaper than a bereavement fare – and “drive to big airport” is logical, but every trpi has it’s own circumstances.

    I frequently fly to Chicago and drive to mid-michigan to visit family. But in the winter I’ll gladly pay $100 more for a ticket to Michigan rather than fly to Chicago, rent a car, and drive in the winter.

    “Fly Cheap Airlines?” Profound. How about “Sunny days are Nice?”

  4. jamesdenver says:

    By the way – fly cheap airlines isn’t limited to the Low Cost Carriers. In Denver UAL matches Frontier on many routes, and their e-fares are inexpensive as well.

    Also if you’re going low cost know what you’re buying. Skybus with it’s heavy resrictions and no customer service – (and self transferred hub baggage) is a hell lot different than jetBlue or Frontier – which I don’t even consider “low cost carriers” even though they brand themselves as such.

    For every price point you take off there’s tradeoffs – and that should be acknowledged or addressed. If a “secret” penny pinching saver is going to screw over your entire trip (ala Skybus pulling service from Washington,) then it might be wise to pay a tad more. But that’s not a fun “secret”

  5. zuvembi says:

    Cincinnati travelers can sometimes get better deals out of Columbus and Dayton, since Delta lords over Cincinnati.

    It would probably be more accurate to replace ‘sometimes’ with ‘always’. The price premium is usually pretty ridiculous ($200-300). I hate driving and it’s still usually worth it to fly into Dayton or Columbus instead.

  6. Tallanvor says:

    @jamesdenver is right about bereavement fares. Even an airline’s website will sometimes have cheaper last minute flights than their bereavement rates.

  7. bnorton says:

    I regularly drive to Kansas City from Iowa to fly. I had to fly to Medellin Columbia once and it saved me $1000 per ticket.

  8. eldergias says:

    Okay, rule 240 is gone, but IATA Resolution 735d does pretty much exactly the same thing. Any IATA member must abide by the resolutions, and this resolution forces the carrier to get you on the very next possible available flight to your destination. If the ticket is with another airlines and is first class, it doesn’t matter, they have to get you the ticket and are not allowed to charge you more for it. If the next ticket costs less than your current ticket then you get a refund. If you have to stay in a hotel they will pick up the cost. Every cost you incur because they involuntarily rerouted (delayed, canceled, ext) your flight is their responsibility 100%. I printed up a copy of the IATA Airline Guide to Involuntary Rerouting, a list of the IATA members (which are most airlines anyhow) and regulation 261 of the European Union flight regulations which is the same are Resolution 735d. I have it all bound together and take it with me whenever I fly.

  9. BK88 says:

    And don’t forget the Wright Amendment debacle in the Dallas area.
    American lowered their prices as soon as they had to compete with
    Southwest. AA complained, it will stall the “economic engine” of DFW
    airport. BULL HONKEY! AA management is a bunch of liars, and there well paid lobby group insured North Texas travelers kept them out of bankruptcy with higher fares.

    Only seven more years of protecting AA’s bottom line at DFW, and real competition can commence again.

  10. Zelle999 says:

    @jamesdenver: “Secrets” may not be the best word but it’s always helpful for those of us who don’t fly as often, to receive helpful hints to make the experience less painful.

    “Sunny Days Are Always Nice” is not necessarily true, especially if you live in, eh, Death Valley, the Sahara, or on Mercury for example.

  11. peggyhill says:

    flying through hubs is not a best kept secret in the slightest. Flying huh-hub? even better…

    Stay away from the RJ service if you can because THAT is where they get you. Better to drive to the nearest major city. Airport parking is super easy… many of the airports have privately owned lots with great rates and incentives (online booking discounts)… many hotels in the airport vicinity also have park, stay, and fly rates as well if you don’t want to deal with a 5 hr car ride before a 5 am flight. Just do some research!

  12. getjustin says:

    I’ve rarely found flights out of hubs to be any cheaper. I find airport that aren’t too big annd not in the middle of nowhere to be the best deals. Cities in Florida, you avoid Miami like the plague but go to places like Ft. Myers or Tampa for good deals.

    Plus the on time record of most hubs ensures nothing but missed connections.

  13. RISwampyankee says:

    Flying the hubs isn’t always a deal. When you factor the cost of ground transportation to your final destination–and those costs have skyrocketed in the last couple of years– savings pretty much disappear. Combine that with the havoc a bus ride can wreak on your sciatica and that cheap ticket starts to look penny wise and pound foolish.

  14. Rick says:

    Of course there is never anything set in stone on any tip, there will always be excpetions and I have learned that stating what is seemingly obvious to some is new to many.

    JamesDenver I decided since you posted comments here and on the post in my blog to take you task a bit on your comments.

    I am also going to do some checking into this IATA rule that was mentioned and see if/when/how it might apply (it is a new one on me in regards to domestic U.S. travel – even though I have written several posts on EU Passenger Bill of Rights including making a claim for compensation for a cousin that was standed 3 days in Munich on US Airways trying to get to DFW via PHL)

  15. Neurotic1 says:

    It’s not necessarily a particular airport, nor airport type, i.e. hub, that will get you a lower fare. More often than not, it’s the fact that a low-cost carrier operates in the market. The best thing to do is visit low-cost carriers websites and find out what routes they serve near you and try to price out similiar city pairs.

    As for Rule 240- I don’t know the legality of it but I do know that is was cited almost on a daily basis by other airlines when I use to work in a call center for Delta. Major carriers have reciprical agreements when things go wrong, i.e. mechanical problems, and the airlines call each other to book stranded passengers on other carriers. Most low-cost carriers don’t have this agreement so you’re pretty much SOL when things go wrong.

  16. Abogada says:

    You hadn’t heard number 6 before? Are you serious? Nothing new about that tip; and as others have pointed out, it doesn’t necessarily work.

  17. Jozef says:

    Cincinnati ain’t the only big hub where the “fly between big hubs” rule fails. I live in Atlanta (also dominated by Delta), and found it much cheaper and more convenient to fly from either Chattanooga, TN or Birmingham, AL.

  18. guymandude says:

    LAX is the quintessential airport to AVOID! I don’t know what the author of this article is smoking but never in my life have I had a worse experience than trying to board an aircraft flying out of LAX. If you have a choice fly into the Ontario (California) airport. It’s just east of LAX and is INFINITELY easier to negotiate. If it costs 25$ more… PAY IT! It’s well worth the price for the madness and inconvenience you avoid. I will NEVER have anything to do with LAX again in my life if I have a choice. The next worse place is trying to make a connecting flight in O’Hare (Chicago). Those 2 places make Houston airport look like the promised land.

  19. ncboxer says:

    Couldn’t load the article to read exactly what is says, but it doesn’t apply near where I live- Charlotte. Charlotte is dominated by USAir (or whatever they are called now) and it has been shown before than fares out there are some of the highest in the country. People have known for years to drive to Greensboro to get a cheaper flight out. They even have flights from say Greensboro to Orlando, with a stopover in Charlotte to pick up more people, and it is still cheaper to drive to Greensboro instead of picking up the flight in Charlotte. How much sense does that make? The airline is using less gas if you depart from Charlotte, but it doesn’t matter. It is also tough for the low cost airlines to crack into the Charlotte market. It is also much much easier to fly out of a smaller airport. Usually parking is closer, TSA wait times are low, baggage comes fast, etc. etc. I just hate the drive….

  20. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    I live in Connecticut, where I can either fly out of Bradley (serving Hartford and Springfield, MA) or NYC. This year, for Thanksgiving and Christmas (just booked yesterday), the fares out of NYC were not significantly cheaper than the fares out of Bradley. In fact, after factoring in transportation to/from NYC plus the extra time, it just wasn’t worth it.

  21. kimsama says:

    @guymandude: I couldn’t agree with you more that O’Hare is the worst connection airport. Never ever fly into it from out of the country — customs takes like twice as long there as any other airport I’ve been to.

  22. Kurtz says:

    @guymandude: I’ve flown in and out of LAX several times. Yes, it’s crowded and the layout out is a pain, but it’s typically cheaper than flying to/from Ontario, or Burbank or John Wayne for that matter. Also you have to fly through LAX to make international connections.

    Speaking of which, here’s Air Insider Secret #11: when flying a domestic airline into a US hub to connect to an international carrier, don’t check your baggage through to your final destination. I do this regularly through LAX, DFW and IAH.

  23. cashmerewhore says:

    I love skybus. Columbus Ohio. Medium airport, not a major hub. I can get $10 direct flights (they are also doing some out of Hartford & Greensboro now too). No complaints from me. Jetblue is even pulling out of town now.

  24. sassenach says:

    I’d rather pay an extra $20 and avoid LAX. It’s crowded, bad managed, lacking all but the barest amenities–and the baggage handlers apparently work in slow motion. And the traffic in and out can add an hour or more to your trip.

  25. jamesdenver says:


    Agree 100%. It may not be cost effective for a family of five. But for one/two people I agree a bit more money is well worth it to avoid delays and have a much more pleasant experience.

  26. djxspike says:

    This is definitely true in Alabama. It may cost my company more to pay my per-diem to ATL (Atlanta, GA) for a flight, but the cost savings over BHM (Birmingham, AL) on the airfare makes up for it. And since I fly strictly Delta… I’m going to go through ATL at some point anyway.

  27. ExPatBrit says:

    I’ve never quite understood how flights that start in Dayton, but route via Cincinnati, are usually FAR less expensive than the direct flights out of Cincinnati?