The Best and Worst Airlines for Cheap Flights

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Everyone wants to find cheap flights so they can save more money on their vacation, but searching discount travel sites can be a hassle.

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To save you time and help you get the most bang for your buck, GOBankingRates set out to find the best and worst airlines for cheap flights. In this study, GOBankingRates compared the cheapest available round-trip flights for one person from Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (JFK or LaGuardia).

Read on to see which airlines have the lowest fees and which are the least affordable.

Last updated: Oct. 15, 2021


Most Expensive Airline: Southwest

Cost of Round-Trip Flight: Starting at $508.96

Southwest Airlines boasts cheap airfares, but was actually one of the more expensive airlines. Their cheapest ticket comes out to $508.96 round-trip going from LAX to LaGuardia, with no refund available. However, passengers will receive travel credits if you cancel your flight. Passengers also get a personal item, a carry-on and two checked bags for no cost.

Southwest also offers a range of airline perks — such as complimentary beverages, free music and no change fee — so it’s very possible to pay nothing beyond your ticket price. Southwest has an open seating policy, but can purchase EarlyBird Check-In, starting at $15 each way to get to the front of the line.

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Less Expensive Airline: United Airlines

Cost of Round-Trip Flight: $237

Passengers on United flights can have one free personal item and are able to pick their seat for no extra fee.

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Less Expensive Airline: American Airlines

Cost of Round-Trip Flight: $173

It’ll cost you $173 to fly American but one bonus: you’re able to choose your seat. Passengers can also bring on one free personal item and one free carry-on and pay $30 for a checked bag, though some customers like those in the military, are eligible for free checked bags.

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Less Expensive Airline: Delta

Cost of Round-Trip Flight: $175

Delta allows you to bring one personal item and one carry-on item, but you will not be able to choose your seat. Checked bags cost $30 each.


Cheapest Airline: JetBlue

Cost of Round-Trip Flight: Starting at $137

Flying JetBlue gets you from LA to NYC and back for just over $100. With a JetBlue Basic ticket, you can select your seat for an extra fee, but you are not allowed a carry-on bag, and your first checked bag costs $60.

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Cheapest Airline: Alaska Airlines

Cost of Round-Trip Flight: Starting at $137

Tied for the cheapest airline, the Alaska Saver Fare really does save you some serious cash. With a Saver Fare ticket, you’re assigned a seat and allowed to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item for free, but checking a bag will cost you $30 for the first bag, $40 for the second and $100 for every bag after that.

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Laura Woods contributed to the reporting for this article.