Guess what, folks! It's that magic time of year, post-holidays/pre-spring break, when no one wants to spend another dollar and most folks aren't looking to fly again so soon. To get your attention (and your money, any money), most airlines are trotting out the big gun sales, such as Southwest's recent 50% off promo code deals. And then there are the spot sales, usually unadvertised, that are even better deals.
- Albany to Las Vegas $198
- Austin to Burbank $198
- Birmingham to Oklahoma City $198
- Nashville to Seattle $198
- Boise to Salt Lake City $98
- Buffalo to Sacramento $198
- Burbank to Philadelphia $198
- Cleveland to Tucson $198
- Spokane to Reno $154
- Houston to Nashville $184
- Long Island to Salt Lake City $188
- Las Vegas to Ontario $98
- Los Angeles to Detroit $198
- San Diego to Cleveland $198
- San Francisco to San Diego $98
- St Louis to Portland $198
Next up, Virgin America's (tel. 877/359-8474; www.virginamerica.com) Go! sale includes coast to coast deals from $278 RT, and shorter hops on the west coast at $118 RT. Nothing mind boggling there. And Sale ends Jan 19.
Over at JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com), the fares are better. Short hops from New York JFK are $49 each way, and fares to the West and Southwest are as low as $258 RT. The sale ends Jan 14.
Midwest Airlines (tel. 800/452-2022; www.midwestairlines.com) is offering a few good fares, with the best deals on shorter hops around its back yard. The longer haul routes aren't anything we haven't seen before. Sale ends Jan 13.
- Appleton to Nashville $205
- Des Moines to Pittsburgh $205
- Milwaukee to Indianapolis $185
- Omaha to Nashville $185
- Minneapolis to Orlando $225
- Atlanta to Buffalo $125
- Detroit to Atlanta $125
- Boston to Akron $135
- Washington, D.C. to Milwaukee $135
- Flint to Raleigh/Durham $185
- Wichita to Pittsburgh $175
- New York to Newport News $105
- Philadelphia to Sarasota $185
- Pensacola to St. Louis $185
- San Antonio to St. Louis $185
Alaska (tel. 800/426-0333; www.alaskaair.com) has its weekly insider discount promo code with 10% off between various cities, as well as a general sale. There's also a $20 promo code for travel to Flagstaff, AZ for select dates in Feb. LA to Flagstaff and reverse is as low as $69 each way before the discount. There's also a weekly web specials sale worth checking out.
Spirit's (tel. 800/772- 7117; www.spiritair.com) latest sale (they seem to have them every other day) ends Jan 7 with fares as low as $9 each way for their $9 Fare Club members. Until midnight Jan 8, they're offering an additional discount of $35 for round-trip fares booked on their website with promo code 35HOURS.
And little but growing Allegiant Airlines (tel. 888/594-6937; www.allegiantair.com) is having a sale to/from Florida with fares starting at $49 each way. Sale ends Jan 21. But beware their $13.50 "convenience fee" even for booking online, plus bag fees.
Even all-biz-class OpenSkies (tel. 866/581-3596; www.flyopenskies.com) is offering sale seats in their PREM+ cabin between New York and Amsterdam for $1,000 round-trip. This offer is good for travel through May 31, and all fares must be booked by January 26.
Economy Upgrades: Worth it? Or Not so Much?
Here's a real feather-ruffler that's been filling up our inbox recently: Those last minute Economy Upgrades. Surely you've noticed the prompts creeping in at almost every step of the trip, from online purchase to self check-in kiosks. "Great news! Seats are available in Economy Plus! Would you like to upgrade, and enjoy blahblahblah extra inches of legroom near the front of the Economy cabin, for an additional blahblahblah dollars?" For an upcoming flight of our own, the price for those additional five inches of legroom is $64, or $12.80 an inch. Ok, now imagine a corndog lined up lengthwise at the tip of your left foot. Now swing your right foot out, careful not to exceed the length of that imaginary corndog. Ah, yes, exhilarating, isn't it? Having all that wriggle room? Isn't this something you'd be willing to pay for? The length of a corndog, for $64? Of course, the price varies from flight to flight, airline to airline, but eh. It would probably have to be priced like a corndog before we'd even bother to consider.
And sometimes, apparently, you don't even get the extra 5 inches. You get nothing. Just another seat, a few economy rows up from where you were sitting in the first place. From our mailbag:
On January 1, my husband and I flew US Airways for the first time. Upon checking in online, I noticed that they offered a "Choice Seat" for an additional $15 per flight/person. What a misnomer! I thought I was paying for a seat with more legroom (as I had seen on our previous flights with United). Well, our seats were not at all 'choice'. In all cases, we got exactly the same kind of seat as we had previously selected. The only difference was that we paid to move further up the plane, closer to the exit. In one case, we were 'lucky' to move from Row 21 to Row 16. Also, in both cases, we had screaming babies next to us for these 'choice' seats. Please alert your subscribers of this ridiculous offer.
And of course, sometimes an economy upgrade just means an exit row seat, but not all airlines charge for those. Yet, at least. Check out our guide to snagging exit rows.
Have you purchased economy upgrades on any of your recent flights? If so, what'd you think? Worth it, or not so much? Let us know!
Kiss Me, I'm Really Cheap Right Now!
Aer Lingus (tel. 800/223-6537; www.aerlingus.com) has some really good fares to Ireland, for January and February travel. Especially notable is the Washington to Dublin deal, at $375 RT including taxes. You will need to have flexible travel dates to get the lowest fare, but Aer Lingus' web site makes flexible searches easy. These fares will probably not stick around for much longer, so better get a move on!
- Boston to Dublin $415, including all taxes
- Chicago to Dublin $435, including all taxes
- New York to Dublin $415, including all taxes
- Orlando to Dublin $567, including all taxes
- Philadelphia to Dublin $468, including all taxes
- San Francisco to Dublin $513, including all taxes
- Washington to Dublin $375, including all taxes
Continental Adds Flexible Search
Maybe this has been around for a while, we're not sure, since it's well hidden: the ability to do a flexible date search over any one month period and over a range of length of stays. To get there, click on "advanced options" from the Continental (tel. 800/525-0280; www.continental.com) home page. We suspect this is powered by our friends over at ITA software, and of course, it only shows Continental's flights. But if CO is your airline of choice, it's a great tool. Once you see the page (screenshot here), click on "my dates are flexible" and ta-da!
Additional Reporting by Tracy W. Stewart and Bo Borre
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.