Think about it: You type in your departure and arrival cities, wait for the cheapest prices to appear and then you buy. What you do not do is go through page after page of the results, just in case the computer somehow messed up and there's a cheaper fare lurking on page 12. Uh-uh, not going to happen.
In other words, all airlines compete to get on that very first 'results page'.
There used to be a big price difference between the legacy carriers (American, Delta, United and US Airways) and the so-called discounters, but not so much anymore. The legacy carriers have come down in price even as low-cost airlines have stealthily been increasing airfares.
Here's an assessment of the airline industry from no less an authority than Gary Kelly, the CEO of Southwest Airlines: "In the good old days," wrote Kelly in December, "when the legacy carriers' costs were higher, we brought our low costs and low fares to their markets, stimulated demand, and expanded dramatically. Now…our advantage has been cut in half. We currently do not have a sufficient cost advantage…our fares are much closer to our [legacy] competitors."
Bottom line: Just keep your eye on the prize - the cheapest airfare.
4. Myth: There's no free lunch
Reality: You'll find plenty of free lunches (dinners, too) especially for the kids when visiting just about any city that depends even, in part, on tourism. Google your destination city and the word 'visit' or 'tourism' and you'll see.
Same for hotels; there are multiple chains offering 'stay X-number of nights, get another night free' deals. Truly the internet is a wonderful thing.
Now excuse me while I go try on last year's bathing suit.