Finding better airfares than those published in Sunday newspapers

Many newspapers publish a list of airfares to popular destinations throughout the country and world in their Sunday travel sections, and I’ve always been curious as to their accuracy. Two Sundays ago, the footnote from the Los Angeles Times list of fares read, “Restricted round-trip airfares as researched Thursday, the day before the Travel section goes to press.” So, I decided this past week to do my own version focusing on domestic flights, and researched fares using ITA Software’s Airfare Search, one of the most powerful & well-respected tools out there. Here are my results from this past Thursday as compared to what was published in yesterday’s Times:

With the exception of Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington DC where I matched the fares (okay, mine were $1 higher), I was able to find lower fares in each of the other markets. The LA Times doesn’t reveal which date range it searched, but I would have to assume it being near term. I searched all of May for about a week’s stay (6 to 8 nights), and my fares are the all-in prices inclusive of taxes, as are the ones quoted in the Times.

Yes, airfares do change constantly and the LA Times does acknowledge this fact, but my point of this exercise is to show that better deals can still be found, and some pretty significant ones like Chicago & Seattle where I found fares $136 and $75 lower respectively. (Note: the Chicago sale by American only lasted 48 hours, however). To their credit, the listings in newspapers do provide a good ballpark of what you can expect to pay, but it’s always a good idea to check fares even if you think the price points listed are out of your budget. Deals ARE out there!

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