Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Using alternative airports to save money on airfare

I was just reading this article about saving money on airfare by checking alternative airports. They use an example of a family flying into Key West and demonstrate how much money they would save if they few into Ft. Lauderdale instead.

In my opinion it's a lousy example to prove their point. I mean, just how much traffic does Key West get compared to Ft. Lauderdale? Wouldn't you expect a busier airport, used by a lot of low fare carriers to be cheaper than Key West? Of course you would.

The tactic of checking alternative airports is an old one. Our local airport isn't served by Southwest but an airport an hour away is. So would air be cheap enough to make it worth the drive? What about alternate airports at the other end?

I'm considering a flight to Los Angeles. Besides LAX there are five other commercial airports in the Los Angeles area. I checked all kinds of combinations, under the impression that I could find a cheaper fare if I considered one of the alternatives.

Not true. Yes, I could save a few dollars driving to that other airport an hour away. But by the time I added gas and the cost of long term parking, the savings were gone.

So, yes, definitely check all your available options. It can pay to think out of the box and look at different routing options. But the best option in the end could be the simplest: your home airport to the airport closest to your destination.

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