Top 10 Myths About Airfares and Airline Tickets

Separating Fact From Fiction

Young man at airport departures
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Sometimes it seems like there is no rhyme or reason when it comes to buying an airline ticket. There are myriad rules and regulations that guide ticket purchases, which can cause confusion.

10 Myths About Airline Tickets

1. Buying a ticket at the last minute means a better deal.  There are times when you can get amazing fares at the last minute. But the usual rule of thumb is the more in advance you buy your tickets, the cheaper the fares are.

 It's also good to check for weekly fare sales.

2. You can change the name on a ticket. It really depends on the airline. Some will force you to buy a new ticket, while others will charge a fee to make any changes, so it's important to check an airline's rules before buying a ticket.

3. You can book tickets more than a year in advance. This is false. Most airlines release their seats up to eight months in advance only. Anything past that won't show up on websites, so you will have to call an airline directly to check for fare availability.

4. You can upgrade a ticket to first class for a nominal fee. This is false. Airlines do offer passengers the chance to buy an upgrade when they check in at the airport, but it's not for a nominal fee. It's based on the distance of the flight, usually starting at around $200. 

5. Airlines will accept tickets from another airline if you are traveling between the same airports. It depends on the airline.

The legacy U.S. carriers -- American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines -- tend to honor each other's fares in case of flight cancellations. But if you're flying on low-cost carriers, you're out of luck.

6. You need to stay over a Saturday night for the best airfare. This is still true. Airlines include a Saturday-night stay to discourage business travelers, who tend to pay higher fares, from buying lower priced tickets.


7. Airlines will offer discounts or special airfares for bereavement/family emergencies.  Low-cost airlines do not offer these fares. But the legacy carriers have different policies, with some offering fares and some being flexible with passengers in need. 

8. You always have the choice of booking a one-way ticket, instead of a roundtrip.  This is true. Airlines give travelers the option to buy one-way tickets on their websites for domestic travel. But it may be a little tougher for international flights because many countries won't allow travelers to visit if they don't have a round trip ticket or a proper work visa. 

9. Airlines can change a ticket booked by a travel agency. Unfortunately, this is not always true. The travel agency, whether it be online or in person, owns the file and may have ticket rules that airline reservation agents simply have no access to. Or, you may be booked on more than one airline with specific flight routing that got you the airfare you wanted.

10. You can change/refund tickets bought through a wholesale outlet or a bucket shop. This is a big no. There's a reason why these tickets are so cheap. They are bought in bulk from the airlines. So before you buy, you have to be 100 percent sure of where and when you want to go, because it can cost big bucks to make any changes, and refunds are not permitted.