How to Cut Your Airfare in Half? Not Exactly…

“A dd a stop to your flight, sometimes even two, so you’re traveling on a connecting flight instead of a non-stop. But only do this once you know for certain it will be cheaper.” This is a way to cut your airfare in half, according to this article written by Rick Seaney — who is a co-founder of FareCompare — for Fox News Travel.

How to Cut Your Airfare in Half? Not Exactly…

Seaney himself admits that “There are instances where this won’t work — but when it does, you could save hundreds.” That is the truth of the matter: you could save hundreds of dollars while potentially inconveniencing yourself; but you cannot rely on adding stops to save money, as other factors come into play — such as the airline itself.

Los Angeles to Cincinnati

Let us take an example offered by Seaney, with no actual dates given by him: Los Angeles to Cincinnati nonstop round-trip is $518.00; whereas one stop costs $294.00 using FareCompare…

Los Angeles and Cincinnati, courtesy of Google Flights

This is a quick comparison of round-trip airfares between Los Angeles and Cincinnati, courtesy of Google Flights. Click on the image for a larger version.

…but a quick search using Google Flights reveals otherwise: you can travel as a passenger on flights operated by Frontier Airlines nonstop and round-trip between Los Angeles and Cincinnati for $215.00, which is less than half of the $459.00 price of an airfare offered by Delta Air Lines round-trip — but with a stop of two hours and 45 minutes in Salt Lake City…

…and if $459.00 for one stop is still not expensive enough for you, consider the $488.00 airfare offered by American Airlines with two stops to help approximately triple the amount of travel time: one in Phoenix; the other in Charlotte.

Seattle to Boston

Seaney gave another example: Seattle to Boston nonstop round-trip is $654.00; whereas one stop costs $476.00 using FareCompare…

Seattle and Boston, courtesy of Google Flights

This is a quick comparison of round-trip airfares between Seattle and Boston, courtesy of Google Flights. Click on the image for a larger version.

…but a quick search using Google Flights reveals an even better deal: you can travel as a passenger on flights operated by Sun Country Airlines round-trip between Seattle and Boston for $276.00 with a stop of one hour and 20 minutes in Minneapolis-Saint Paul; whereas $431.00 is the least expensive airfare for a nonstop flight offered by Alaska Airlines round-trip.

Continuing with the Seattle to Boston theme on the same dates, a look at the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines reveal that connecting flights are more expensive than nonstop flights.

Seattle and Boston, courtesy of Delta Air Lines

This is a quick comparison of round-trip airfares between Seattle and Boston, courtesy of Delta Air Lines. Click on the image for a larger version.

The flight with a stop in Detroit is $8.50 more expensive than the nonstop flight — primarily due to airport taxes because an additional airport is involved…

…but two other flights with a stop in Detroit are $601.20 — $105.00 more than the nonstop flight — primarily because seats are apparently limited on those flights, as indicated by the fare class.

New York to Oslo

As for flights between New York and Oslo, which is the third example brought up by Seaney — well…we already know which airline offers the lowest airfares for non-stop flights much of the time on that flight route, as I presented a random example in this article.

Taking into consideration two dates at random for comparison purposes and including all taxes and fees in airfare costs: a round-trip itinerary using Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” airplanes operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle departing New York on Thursday, November 10, 2016 and returning from Oslo on Sunday, November 20, 2016 costs a total of $323.00 — and the flights are non-stop each way. Compare that to a total airfare of $666.00 for an itinerary consisting of flights operated by both United Airlines and SAS on the same dates — with a stop on Dublin for two hours and 25 minutes on the outbound flights and an overnight stop in Amsterdam for 14 hours and 50 minutes on the return flights — and the opposition by airlines based in the United States and their unions becomes more obvious.

Summary

While Rick Seaney is correct that adding at least one stop to an itinerary can significantly reduce the cost of air travel, it is not a reliable method of saving money, as many other factors are involved that affect the cost of a flight — including capacity, the airline itself, and the time and date of the flights as three of a plethora of factors.

By the way, there is a bright side to inconveniencing yourself by adding stops to your itinerary: they often translate into earning more frequent flier loyalty program miles; as well as more miles earned towards elite status qualification for the following year in your favorite frequent flier loyalty program.

Could you save up to half the cost of airfare to view the clouds from above if your itinerary includes one stop — such as this view en route to Los Angeles? Not necessarily. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “How to Cut Your Airfare in Half? Not Exactly…”

  1. Mike says:

    What’s the deal with the big deal? Following your link to the cited story shows the writer mentions connecting flights “where I have seen fares drop by 10, 20 even 50 percent”. He recommends clicking the non-stop button on and off to check. If it works and it’s worth it, good. If it doesn’t work or you decide it’s not worth the trouble, all you lose is a mouse click.

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