When A Flight Deal Is Too Good To Be True

What You Need To Know About Dirt Cheap Airfares

It’s hard to ignore a $99 airfare from the US to Europe. And who wouldn’t want to get to Europe for $99?

What do you get for $99?

Not much. That $99 ticket may get you to Europe (Iceland is in Europe, but you’ll pay more to get to the rest of the continent), but you have to get back, and that ticket is always more expensive, usually double, sometimes triple the outbound fare cost. You will pay extra for a carry-on bag, usually about $50 per leg. So, if you’re flying Wow Air from New York to London, you will stop in Reykjavik. You will pay another carry-on fee from Reykjavik to Europe. So, that’s another $100 just to get there. You’ll pay the same baggage fees, per leg, on the way back to New York. You will pay another fee for a seat, and on some airlines, another fee for seat selection. Add more money if you don’t want to ride in the cheap seats. Anything you want to eat or drink will also be extra.

When are dirt cheap fares a good idea?

For example, get from New York to Europe at the lowest possible price. Most people want two things from an airfare: cheap and fast. Travel with just a small personal item that will fit under the seat (not a carry-on). The flight will probably be a red-eye, so you can sleep most of the time, if you’re lucky. If you have a stop somewhere, that will obviously interfere with your sleep. You can take water and a bag of snacks to save on food costs. I always take single serving Starbucks instant coffee (surprisingly good) packets, and ask for a cup of hot water if there’s no charge. Some people find it’s cheaper to travel with just an underseat bag and buy clothing, shoes, etc. when they get to Europe.

What about coming back?

Pretty much the same thing in reverse, except your return fare will probably cost more. Figure about double what you paid to get there. People who opt for buying your clothes, shoes, etc. in Europe often leave the clothing they don’t want in their room where it will be used by the housekeeping staff, or given away to people in need.

What are my other choices?

Many people want things like taking a carry-on, checking a bag, seat selection, and meals when they fly. The budget airlines do offer those things, and sometimes their total cost is still cheaper than using the legacy airlines. But not always, so that’s where you have to shop around.

NEXT: How To Find The Best Airfare

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