It’s almost time for the holiday travel season to begin and that means people are hunting for cheap flight deals.
VERIFY viewer Gayle shared this TikTok video with our team that claims you can save some serious money by purchasing your ticket at the airport versus booking online. As of Oct. 26, the video has more than 1 million views.
Can you save money by buying an airline ticket at the airport?
Yes, you can save money by buying an airline ticket at the airport. However, according to travel experts, this tip only applies to ultra-low-cost airlines that charge online booking fees.
WHAT WE FOUND
The TikTok video references fees ultra-low-cost airlines, like Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, typically charge customers for booking through their websites.
Allegiant Air charges its customers an Electronic Carrier Usage Charge if they book a flight online. On the airlines’ website, it says “fares displayed are inclusive of an electronic usage charge of $18 per passenger, per segment, applicable to all airline reservations booked through the website or call center.”
According to airfarewatchdog, a go-to source for airfare and hotel deals, this fee can be avoided if you purchase your ticket at the Allegiant Air ticket counter inside of the airport. However, airfarewatchdog says Allegiant often offers a "roundtrip discount" for tickets booked on its website, which may not apply to tickets booked at the airport. Customers also have a limited window of when they would be able to book at Allegiant’s ticket counter because the airline’s hours vary at each airport.
Meanwhile, Frontier Airlines charges a Carrier Interface Charge, which is between $4 to $21 per leg, for all fares booked online, according to airfarewatchdog. Frontier describes this fee as the standard fare price the airline displays online, which includes a charge per passenger, per segment, that is assessed on tickets purchased through the website or its call center. Airfarewatchdog says Frontier also has a limited schedule for customers to purchase tickets at its ticket counters.
“A general rule of thumb is that the ticket counter will be open two hours before a scheduled departure, and I would plan to get there exactly when it opens to avoid a long line. If there are no other flights, ticket counters usually close 45 minutes prior to departure,” according to airfarewatchdog.
Spirit Airlines customers may have to pay the airlines’ Passenger Usage Fee, which is currently up to $22.99 per leg if they book online. According to airfarewatchdog, this fee can be avoided by booking a flight at the Spirit Airlines ticket counter inside of the airport. However, airfarewatchdog says Spirit’s other booking-related fees, like the airlines’ Regulatory Compliance Charge and Fuel Charge, are still collected when a person buys their ticket at the airport, which sometimes don’t apply when buying online.
When it comes to other airlines, like Delta, United and Southwest, they do not charge online booking fees, so it’s usually cheaper to buy their tickets online.