Getting the BEST Deal on Airfare – A Tale of Two Flights


Here’s a trick question…

In shopping for airfare this week I narrowed down my options to 2 airlines/tickets.  One airline had tickets for $272 ea.  The other airline would get me to my destination for $258 a piece.  So….which ticket is cheaper?

I said this was a trick question, right?

Here’s the details….

Airline “A” sells their seat (We can only  HOPE there’s an actual ‘seat’ and flight involved here and not just a ticket to be drug down the aisle….ugh!)  Anyway…They sell their seat for $272.  They offer a credit card that will give me a $100 statement credit if I purchase my ticket FROM THEM (not from a consolidator) and charge it to that card. (that’s the only reason I would get their credit card…  🙂 )    They will give me 1 free checked bag per person listed on the reservation as a benefit for using their credit card.  There is a $95 credit card fee, but they WAIVE that for the 1st year.  (I’ll cancel the card before they charge that fee next year…I’ll put a reminder on my online calendar)

Airline “B” has the tickets for $258 ea.  They, too, offer a statement credit if I purchase my airfare from them and charge to their card – Their credit is $50.  They, also, will give me 1 free checked bag per person on the reservation when I use their credit card.  HOWEVER, THEIR $95 credit card fee is NOT waived.  That charge will be on my first bill.

Now…who has the better deal?  Whose tickets are cheaper?

Airline “A”

  • 2 tickets:                    $546
  • Statement credit:   – $100
  • Free chk’d bags          -0-   (value of $50 for one way flight)
  • Total Cost                 $446

Airline “B”

  • 2 tickets                     $514
  • C.C. fee                      + $95   = $609
  • Statement credit    –  $50   = $549
  • Free chk’d bags           -0-        (value of $50 for one way flight)
  • Total Cost                 $549

pexels-photo-358319Now with the statement credit and 2 free bags, (As noted above, I’m looking at a one way flight) the $95 fee is cancelled out. If it were round trip with those 2 bags, I could possibly justify that fee. However, there’s still no way around the fact that the total cost for the ticket is $100 more….since BOTH airlines would give me free bags on a round trip ticket.

Yes…they advertise other benefits to their cards that could be advantageous for frequent travelers (bonus ‘miles’) or those who look for OTHER benefits on credit cards (interest rates, transfer rates, etc…). We, however, are not frequent flyers (yes, we travel frequently, but not always on flights)  or people who care about those other ‘benefits’.   I’m ONLY looking at IMMEDIATE benefits – cost of the ticket and free checked bags.

One More Thing That Must be Noted Here:  Evaluate your personal financial situation before applying for any credit card. Credit card applications will ‘ding’ your credit. It’s easy to recover if you are starting from a good place with your credit score, but if your credit score in ‘in trouble’…or you’re looking to apply for a mortgage soon, this may NOT be the thing for you.      

Now….I can’t leave this discussion without addressing the option of just buying the ticket without applying for the credit card.  With that, you lose the statement credit and pay the baggage fees.  Here’s how that plays out with Airline “B” (Airline “A” is obviously not going to be a good deal without the card…):

Airline “B” (without the credit card):

  • 2 tickets                        $514
  • 2 chk’d bags                   $50   (for a one-way flight;  $100 for round trip)
  • Total Cost                    $564


Bottom Line:  ALWAYS do the math…  What ‘appears’ to be cheaper at first look may not always be cheaper. I’ve even found that to be true with the airlines that don’t charge baggage fees. Of course, sometimes they ARE the better deal…but you HAVE to do the math…..


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