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Top 10 Myths about Airfares and Airline Tickets

Separating the myth from fiction

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Young man at airport departures
David Malan/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Are there any set rules and truths when it comes to buying a ticket, changing a ticket or getting the best airfare available? Because not all airlines follow the same routes, there are several myths and misunderstandings that exist when it comes to airfares and airline tickets.

Top 10 airfare/airline ticket myths

1. Last minute means better deals - Every once in a while you can get a great deal at the last minute. However, usually the best bets are advance purchases and checking out sales that tend to appear most often on Wednesdays.

2. You can change the name on a ticket - On some low cost airlines you can change the name on a ticket for a fee, but on most airlines, and especially when international travel is involved, there are no name changes allowed. If in question, read the rules before you buy or contact the travel agent/airline you intend to buy your ticket from.

3. You can book tickets more than a year in advance - Reservation systems are really only built to book up to a year in advance. Anything beyond 365 days from now can be requested, but you will wait for it to get confirmed, and for the price.

4. You can upgrade a ticket to first class for a nominal fee - Some charter airlines, and low cost airlines may offer this, but don't ask the Lufthansa agent if you can upgrade your New York to Frankfurt flight to first class for fifty bucks - the price difference will have a few more 00's in the equation.

5. Airlines will accept tickets from another airline if you are traveling between the same airports - It may seem common sense but when airlines start cancelling flights and passengers see their options dwindling, they will often run up to other airlines. To change airlines you need to see if the airline you are booked with has a ticketing agreement with other airlines and if they will endorse your ticket for travel with another airline. A lot less common now that tickets are almost all electronic.

6. You need to stay over a Saturday night for the best airfare - This is less and less the standard for securing a good price for your ticket. International travel does usually still have a minimum stay requirement but domestically Saturday night is rarely a requirement anymore.

7. Airlines will offer discounts or special airfares for bereavement/family emergencies - Many airlines do offer discounts for this type of travel, but most low cost airlines do not. The discounts are offered for travel wholly on one airline. You won't be able to travel on several airlines and secure this type of airfare.

8. You always have the choice of booking a one way ticket, instead of a roundtrip - True enough again domestically, however several countries can and will refuse visitors entry into their respective countries without proof of a roundtrip ticket.

9. Airlines can change a ticket booked by a travel agency - Unfortunately, this is not always true. The travel agency, whether it be online or in person, owns the file and may have ticket rules that airline reservation agents simply have no access to. Or, you may be booked on more than one airline with specific flight routing that got you the airfare you wanted.

10. You can change/refund tickets bought through a wholesale outlet or a bucket shop - Because these tend to be highly discounted tickets, changes or cancellations are rarely permitted. The seats are often bought in bulk from the airlines and the airfares are private and are not accessible to airline reservation agents.

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