Airfare Sales Are (Mostly) BS

Atlanta Airport Delta Terminal

Look, I understand that there’s variance in almost everything.  That’s great.  But when I get an email that says “Travel from Miami to Dubai for $450 each way!!”, and then I actually try to book the ticket – during the promo, mind you – and the real lowest fare turns out to be $1552… and there’s no listing of WHEN THE HELL the fares are ACTUALLY on sale.

I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous.  I love to travel.  I will travel on a round-the-world ticket with my sweetie some day soon.  I used to hate flying, but I’m a huge fan now.  I collect frequent flyer miles.  Why are the airfare sales so misleading? I just want to know when to buy the cheapest airfare, and I don’t want to spend seven hours trying out all combinations of departure/arrival dates.

Case in point – you know the New Mexico trip I took last month?  This is how the sale worked:

  1. Southwest announced a sale with fares starting as low as $49.
  2. I looked up the details – $49 for legs < 450 miles, $79 for legs between 450 and 1500 miles, and $99 for everything above.  Easy, right?
  3. I booked 4 legs (2 for each traveler) for $79 a piece.
  4. Done.

Southwest announced a deal, they made the terms easy to understand, and they followed through with the sale.  Why can’t the other big airlines make it this easy?  Or why can’t their headlines read something like, “Great sale – fares starting from $450 each way (ONLY if you depart Tuesday morning and return Thursday afternoon, during a full moon)!!!”

I’m a deal-finder and a travel-hacker, and I will spend all day looking for a deal, but I don’t like that I have to.  If an airline is going to offer a sale, they need to be clear about it.  You know what I do when I encounter a “so-called” sale that doesn’t live up to its promises?  I don’t buy airfare from that airline. You might think that I’m just one person and I won’t make a difference, but when enough people get tired of this, it will make a painful difference.

Here’s to transparency in advertising.  Misleading sale or not, there’s still no excuse for you to not be getting off your ass and traveling.

6 Replies to “Airfare Sales Are (Mostly) BS”

  1. Why are the airfares so misleading?
    1. The airline executives don’t have to book their travel or pay for it because they fly non-revenue.
    2. The Federal Trade Commission is busy, so they do not enforce the laws on misleading ads.
    3. With the notable exception of SW (which does everything better than the others), the best airline is mediocre in a sea of losers.
    4. All marketers are liars (or so Seth’s book says)

    1. Agreed. I would rather an airline just let me hunt for good fares than tell me there’s a deal and make it impossible to find. Southwest rocks my world! Now if they could just get some better planes…

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