What you really need to know about those cheap airfares

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You get a text from a friend: “Flights to Paris are 300 bucks!” it says. Do you a) Book now, figure it out later, b) Agonize over whether you should do it and finally go to book only to find it’s sold out, or c) Hit delete — you don’t need that temptation?

When it happened to me, thanks to a travel planner friend who keeps an eye on all things budget travel, my husband and I were team “a” all the way. Once the giddiness — we’re going to Paris! — wore off a bit, some of the reality sunk in. We’re flying out of an airport 80 miles away. It’s the bare-bones of economy seating so there’s no checked luggage. And sitting together? Ha! With no free seat selection, it’ll be a miracle if we don’t each land in middle seats on opposite sides of the plane. Now, for a $300 airfare to our favorite place on earth, those are all trade-offs we’re willing to make.

But when you’re under the gun to make a decision it can be tough to weigh the pros and cons. For some guidance when it comes to navigating bargain airfares, I talked with Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights, the treasure trove of cheap airfares (I actually had to unsubscribe from his deals email because it was just too much temptation!). And I chatted with Ben Mutzabaugh, Senior Aviation Editor for The Points Guy, an essential site for frequent travelers.



Passengers walk through the newly opened Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal in Atlanta, GeorgiaThe prevalence of ultra low-cost airfare could well change how we plan travel. Tami Chappell / Reuters, file



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