Lowest-airfare searches

By Donna Pyle
This item appears on page 14 of the March 2018 issue.

A subscriber suggested using Matrix.itasoftware.com simply to find out which airline partners fly to particular destinations (“Mileage-award-ticket Secrets,” Dec. ’17, pg. 11). After using that site to determine which airlines fly to Panama City, Panama, and San José, Costa Rica, I then also checked out the airfare comparisons on that site, and I found them to be quite inaccurate. It seemed to always point me to Delta Air Lines. For other airlines, it listed prices much higher than what I ultimately found. 

I next used www.airfarewatchdog.com, which was mentioned by another subscriber (May ’16, pg. 13). While the site is quite useful, I found it has one shortcoming in that it doesn’t deal with multileg itineraries, so I asked it to “shop” for round-trip fares to Panama City only. I was sent periodic emails from Airfarewatchdog giving me the latest best price for that route, and over a month or so I got an idea of what to look for as a best price.

Before I finalized our ticket purchase, I checked American Airlines’ and Delta’s sites plus Expedia. The Expedia site confirmed that the prices I had found at American’s site were the best it could find also, so I went back to American Airlines’ site and purchased directly from the airline. 

Note 1: I limited my choices to one stop only in each direction. (There were some cheaper flights available that required more stops and even extra days for the trip.)

Note 2: I didn’t bother trying to figure out if United Airlines was cheaper because I refuse to use their “Economy Minus” seating (with less legroom). And figuring out the true price with United requires going through the entire booking process to see how much you’d need to add for decent seats on each segment.

Boulder, CO