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Is Paying Full Fare For an Airline Ticket Ever Worth It?

Is Full Fare Airfare Ever Worth It?

I recently took a last-minute flight to Los Angeles — which meant my usual plans of grabbing a cheap seat went out the window, since many airlines require an advanced purchase for the bottom of the barrel prices. Even so, sites like Sidestep, Kayak, and Bing can grab the best last-minute deals, but this time I decided to pay full fare on my favorite discount airliner, Southwest.

For my trip, Southwest's fares were not that much more than any discounted ticket on other airlines that I found through a search, so I knew that I wasn't paying much more than I would have to in order to fly. But I did end up paying a premium.

So why did I choose the full fare instead of a discounted ticket? Find out after the break.

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  • It's refundable. My plans were spur of the moment, and I wasn't sure if I'd need to cancel or change my flight. Paying the full fare meant I could cancel at the last minute and even reschedule my return flight when it turned out I needed to get back home sooner.
  • Changing flights is a breeze. Getting a standby seat on a different same-day flight is pretty easy with a full fare on many airlines. Southwest only allows you to fly standby with a full fare, but there are no extra fees to change a flight if you've bought one. Jet Blue has free standby regardless of fare and costs $40 for a confirmed seat, a policy similar to other airlines. In my case, both my flights were delayed, so I was very relieved to be able to hop onto a flight that was closer to my planned depart time.
  • The frequent flyer miles add up. It was worth it for me to pay a little bit extra than a nonrefundable fare on a different airline in order to have the flights count toward my frequent flyer account.

Savvy readers, do you ever find a reason to pay full fare for an airline ticket?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
verily verily 6 years
I think the mistake here is assuming that the various travel sites actually offer competitive rates. In the past few years, the airlines I've flown have offered the same prices as the likes of Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia, and Priceline. In some cases, the airline's site was cheaper. What the travel sites offer are convenience in booking tickets and the ability to compare multiple airlines at once for the cheapest rate. Don't let them fool you into thinking you're getting a better deal on a flight. I always book my tickets directly through the airline for convenience (and rewards points).
amber512 amber512 6 years
I have never traveled enough to really answer. In fact, I have only purchased plane tickets one time in my life! Every other time I've flown (not many more) I was young enough that my parents were paying.
WeTheLiving WeTheLiving 6 years
Jet Blue and Southwest are my fave airlines. I prefer Jet Blue for overall experience, but SW is usually cheaper. My dad has been able to transfer unused SW tickets a couple times with no problems, but the draw to me is free checked baggage. Other airlines may have similar ticket prices, but you end up paying tons more with the added fees.
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