Airtran (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtran.com) is having a sale with fares ranging from $39 to $169 each way, with the lowest fares available, per usual, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. There's a 14-day advance purchase, you must buy by April 10, and fly through October 3. There are holiday blackout dates so don't expect to fly over July 4th weekend and as usual, Airtran's sales are never on Sundays. You'll find that the shorter hops are better value than the longer ones, which are often bested by other airlines. You'll also find that Delta is matching on some routes, especially those out of Atlanta, where the two airlines share a hub. One big difference, however, is that Airtran will sell you a standby business class upgrade from any fare for a lot less than other airlines. See our article at the very bottom of this report for a link to details.
Australia on Sale
Qantas Airways (tel. 800/227-4500; www.qantas.com) is having a sale on travel from May 7 through May 29 from U.S. cities to select destinations in Australia. This sale is also valid for travel from April 2-May 6, as well as May 30-June 3 and July 24- September 21, for an additional $100.
For $200 more, you can travel from June 4 through June 11. And if those dates don't work for you, tack on an additional $300 for travel between July 14 and July 23.
- New York to Melbourne: Using May 18 through May 30 as our dates of travel, we found a fare of $1368 round-trip. The best price we found on ITAsoftware (www.itasoftware.com) for the exact same trip, including the layover in Los Angeles, was $2027, also on Qantas. Even the lower fare listed on ITA, including two layovers, comes to $1,381 on Qantas.
- Denver to Sydney: On Qantas, Denver to Sydney from May 3 through May 13 comes to $1,432 round-trip, including taxes. We searched the same dates on ITAsoftware and came up with a fare of $1,392 on United Airlines.
- Chicago to Sydney: We found $1,387 round-trip on Qantas.com, traveling from May 30 through June 12. These same dates on ITAsoftware show us that United has a fare of $1,364 round-trip.
- St. Louis to Brisbane: On Qantas.com, we found $1,400 for travel through May 14 through May 23. The lowest fare we found for this trip on ITAsoftware, including the layover in Los Angeles, is $1,781, also on Qantas. Even if you're willing to tack on another layover to save money, the lowest fare is $1,478, again on Qantas. So if you're traveling from St. Louis, save yourself the unnecessary second layover and the $78 by booking directly on the Qantas website.
- Dallas/Ft. Worth to Sydney: By searching on Qantas, we found a fare of $1,282, traveling from June 1 through June 10. The lowest fare listed on ITAsoftware on these dates is $1,342 on United.
United and Qantas seem to be pretty neck-and-neck on fares for these routes, with a few exceptions. The difference in price is a slight one, so you may wish to base your decision on airline preference here. Or, for the die-hard thrift, pocket the $40 bucks and put it towards all those boomerang souvenirs you'll be buying. This deal expires April 13, so get a move on.
New Zealand & the South Pacific on Sale
Air New Zealand (tel. 800/262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com) is having a sale from Los Angeles to Auckland for $798 round-trip, which includes a stop over in the South Pacific. This fare is good for departures from April 1 through May 7, and passengers have the choice of stopping over in either Fiji or the Cook Islands. For travel from June 1 through June 30, this fare increases to $983 round-trip, which still includes the passenger's choice of either Fiji or the Cook Islands.
Leaving Los Angeles for Fiji on April 25, then on to Auckland on May 2, and returning to Los Angeles on May 9, we were able to find a fare of $618 round-trip. Add in the taxes and surcharges and you're at $880 round-trip. Booking the same trip on the exact same dates on Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) will end up costing you $1,372 with Air New Zealand, the lowest fare listed.
Air New Zealand also has an "Explore More of New Zealand" sale to Auckland from Los Angeles, and San Francisco for $866 round-trip, which includes travel to two additional cities within New Zealand. This offer is also extended to Honolulu departures for $814 round-trip. Qantas is matching this more or less with a fare, for example, of $863 round-trip including tax LA-Auckland and $877 round-trip San Francisco to Auckland.
The available dates for this fare could leave you spending up to 5 days or so in each city, which is great for those who have the time. You may also find it difficult to string together a complete itinerary, as we did. There were no available flights from Auckland back to the US, which could very well be a glitch in their site. For those who couldn't be bothered in the slightest with actually returning home, well then, this could very well be the deal for you.
$10 Off from USA3000
USA3000's (tel. 877/872-3000; www.usa3000.com) fares are already low, so while $10 off doesn't sound like much, what the heck, you're saving money. Use promo code BUNNY (how cute) on their site through April 10 for trips through June 14 only.
Icelandair Summer Sale to Europe
This summer, travelers from Boston's Logan Airport and New York's JFK can fly Icelandair's (tel. 800/223-5500; www.icelandair.com) new day flights to Reykjavik. Flights will depart early afternoon, four times a week from Boston, beginning on May 25. From New York, the new afternoon service departs three times a week, and begins May 24.
Icelandair is having a sale on summer travel to Europe. These fares are divided into spring/summer and late summer periods, the dates of which vary according to your departure city. Here's a roundup:
- From New York: Sale fares are valid for departures from April 2 through June 9, and June 15 through August 19. New York to Frankfurt is advertised as $423 round-trip during the first portion of this sale. Using June 2 through June 14 as our travel dates, we found a fare of $592 round-trip, with taxes, on Icelandair. This is much better than the lowest listed fare of $794 with Air India that we found for the same route, on the same dates, on ITAsoftware.
- From Minneapolis: Sale fares are valid for departures from April 3 through May 11, and from June 15 through August 19. Minneapolis to Copenhagen is advertised as $882 round-trip for travel during the later portion of this sale. Using June 18 through July 1 as our travel dates, we were able to find $1,008 round-trip, including tax. ITAsoftware list the lowest available fare for these dates as $1309 round-trip on United, and that comes with two layovers. The lowest listed fare with one layover is $1,971 on United. That's $963 more!
- From Boston: Sale fares are valid for departures from April 1 through June 10, and from June 15 through August 19. Boston to Glasgow is advertised as $497 round-trip during the first portion of this sale. We searched for travel from May 19 through May 31, checking the flexible date option along with our search, and found most of the surrounding dates to be sold out. For our selected dates, the fare listed was $612 round-trip, with tax. Our follow-up search on ITAsoftware showed the lowest available fare for this trip as being $691 round-trip with Northwest. Those searching for a good deal from Boston to Glasgow should be sure and check out Flyglobespan (www.flyglobespan.com), which begins service from Logan International on May 25.
Overall, these fares are far better than what other airlines are offering for summer travel. As is often the case, you'll have greater luck taking advantage of this sale if you're flexible with your dates. Be sure to use the flexible search option on Icelandair.com to see what fares are available on other dates.
London in Spring
If you're heading to London this summer, you may have trouble finding fares much under $1,000 round-trip. The best deal we see from New York, with taxes, for July travel, last we looked, was $906 round-trip but that was only for a few travel dates from JFK to London Gatwick, nonstop on Delta. However, if you want to fly in late April or early to mid May, fares are almost half that. You'll also save money if you avoid nonstop flights and fly into Gatwick rather than Heathrow.
Here are some of the decent fares we've found, all round-trip including tax:
Into London Gatwick
- Des Moines: $524
- Detroit: $518
- Los Angeles: $624
- Minneapolis: $557
- New York JFK: $499 non-stop
- Philadelphia: $505
- San Francisco: $595
- Vancouver: $444
Again, these fares almost double for peak summer travel, so go early and save.
And speaking of Europe, you can still fly from New York to Madrid in August on Air France for the amazingly low tax-included fare of $470 round-trip on Air France. The same fare applies to Barcelona -- less than half what other airlines are charging. It's the lowest European fare we've found for August travel. Use a flexible date search on Orbitz.com to find seats. And even if you don't live in New York, you'll save money in any case flying to JFK from wherever you live and then hopping on Air France from there.
For some reason, amazingly low airfares to Asia have been far and few between these past few weeks. Gone are the days when we saw fares in the 3's and 4's. However, for the last few days Northwest has been undercutting the competition to Narita by hundreds of bucks if you play the dates.
Sample Round-Trip Fares to Tokyo:
Note, however, that these fares can only be found if you travel on just the right dates. For example, Seattle to Tokyo we found dates leaving on April 24 and returning May 3. but other dates were over $1000 round-trip. So be flexible or pay the price.
Avoiding the Coach Crunch
We've updated our answer to the perennial question, "What can I do about those thinly padded, cramped, and otherwise miserable economy class seats?" Read all about it.
George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and blogger whose website, www.airfarewatchdog.com, tracks unadvertised airfare wars and fare sales, including the most helpful and always updated Top 50 Airfares.
Talk with fellow Frommer's readers on our Air Travel Message Boards today.