Consumer Reports: Getting the best airfare - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Consumer Reports: Getting the best airfare

Andy Wise, Action News 5 Chief Consumer Investigator Andy Wise, Action News 5 Chief Consumer Investigator

(WMC-TV) – We all want to fly, but none of us want to pay for it. That's why it can be so infuriating when you find that great price online and then it vanishes.

When you try to snag a great airfare online, sometimes it can vanish into thin air. That's what Consumer Reports' Tod Marks found when he investigated how to cut the cost of flying.

"You see a lot of airfare deals out there that sound great," he said. "But hidden fees, fine print and blackout dates can make locking in a great deal as tricky as a soft landing in turbulence."

For instance, Travelocity featured a deal on a roundtrip flight from Philadelphia to London for $277. However, once you book the flight, it actually costs almost $666.

"Spirit Airlines promotes flights that cost as a little as nine dollars," said Marks. "But to qualify you have to join its Nine Dollar Club, which costs around 60 bucks, and you also may be subject to a lot of additional fees."

Those additional fees could include up to $45 for each piece of checked luggage, up to $40 per carry-on, and $199 for a reserved seat.

"Now, there are ways to get a great deal on a flight," Marks said. "Ideally, you want to book in advance, and never within two weeks of travel."

You should also take advantage of e-mail and smart phone alerts that airlines and travel sites let you set up to track fares and time your purchases.

"Experts tell us there really is a best time to book," Marks said. "And that's at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on a Tuesday. Believe it or not, that's when the greatest number of discount seats hit the market."

Action News 5's travel experts say always check the airlines' web sites first before looking up fares on the third-party sites.

Also, don't assume the discount carriers are the cheapest. The major airlines can't afford to be more expensive than low-price carriers because that lands them a lower listing on search engines, like Google.

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