You may think you scored the "best" deal on your flight -- but what if we said the person sitting next to you paid $1,400 less?
Air travel researchers at Hopper recently completed a study on the differences in price from seat to seat on big-name airlines. On their case study flight, from LAX to the Las Vegas airport, the "best deal" seat on the plane cost less than $200. Most passengers, however, paid between $400 and $600, and some passengers -- all in the same economy section! -- paid over $1,600 for their seats.
Bet they thought they were getting a "good deal," too.
The distribution of ticket prices on a single plane is something we often forget to consider. But picking an airline with similar prices across its seats can save you from paying hundreds more than your fellow passengers.
Of the airlines Hopper studied, Virgin America and Spirit Airlines had the most uniform price distributions, meaning there was the least price difference between the cheapest and most expensive seats on a typical flight (however, it should be noted that this was specific to the route between LAX and Las Vegas).
Hopper also studied the flight routes where you're likely to find uniform ticket prices. They found your best bet for finding fairly equal ticket prices is on a flight from Chicago's O'Hare Airport to New York City's JFK (again, it should be noted that they only analyzed five routes -- there could be routes with more equal prices out there).
To avoid paying WAY more for your seat than the person next to you, book your flight when they're known to be cheapest: the "magic time" is 54 days before your flight, for domestic trips. Hopper's Flight Explorer tool also shows deals across the Internet, with labels showing how each ticket compares to other deals online. And of course, setting a fare alert to watch ticket prices ebb and flow will help you know what's a "good deal" for your desired route.
Strike while the iron is hot, travelers.