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  1. Over in another forum, Rocks started the fascinating discussion about airline economics. The bolded sentence from johnb quoted above got me to thinking, how do people choose their flights? There are so many options. Do most people really choose the cheapest seat? I don't. I start by looking on Travelocity or Expedia for what flights are available to a given destination on a given day. I search on WAS (all Washington area airports) for departures. Then, I arrange my search by departure time, and usually filter it for nonstop or one stop. After I get a sense for which airlines depart from which airports at what times of day, I'll do a search on seatguru.com to see what equipment is flying, and how the seats are arranged. I'll often go to individual airline websites to find even more details. The point of all this research is that I don't necessarily want the cheapest seat. I want a reasonably priced seat that departs at a reasonable time (from DCA, IAD, or BWI, in that order of preference) and gets me to the destination reasonably quickly. For example, last time we flew to Montreal, I found an insanely inexpensive deal on Porter Air - something below $100, I believe. But, the flight went to Toronto first and had something like a six hour layover before heading to Montreal. When I'm going somewhere for just a few days, it isn't worth it to spend half a day on each end hanging around in an airport. Another example: for our Fiji trip, I found a reasonable first class fare (low four digits). I decided to play around with the dates. Every other departure/return date I checked offered the same flight at twice the price. So even though I wanted to spend a little longer in Fiji, I stuck with the original plan. $X was not too much for me to pay. $2X was way too much. A final example: for our upcoming trip to Iceland, I saw that the nonstop options were limited to Icelandair and Wow air. The latter is a lot less expensive, but it departs from BWI, offers economy class only, and charges $60+ for the first checked bag, and well over $100 for the second. Given that we're going in winter and planning on doing some outdoor activity, we absolutely need to check bags (we're taking a lot of stuff). Icelandair offers two checked bags for free and a premium economy class in which only two people are seated in a row designed for three. I also checked Icelandair's website, which gave a calendar view with prices - so I could see which days of the week cost more and which cost less. So even though I paid for premium economy, I chose the least expensive days of the week to fly. All told, we're paying a little more (but not much more) than we would have paid on Wow Air, and departing from a more convenient airport. So, how do you choose? What factors are important to you, and why? What other considerations do you have? What websites do you recommend checking? What are your tricks and tips for finding your preferred itinerary?
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