February 2, 2004 -- Beseiged by competition from all sides, Delta isn't standing still. Instead, they're embarking on an aggressive expansion at New York's JFK airport, home to JetBlue, the low-fare nemesis which has spent the past two years cutting into the New York-Florida routes that were once dominated by Delta and American.
Delta is in the unfortunate position of being hit three different ways by particularly aggressive budget carriers. AirTran has been pummeling the bigger carrier at its core airport of Atlanta. JetBlue has linked New York's JFK airport and Florida with repeated sales, and Spirit's been doing the same from New York's LaGuardia airport. Now, JetBlue's expanding to Boston, further weakening Delta's position in the Northeast.
What all this means for Delta's low-fare spinoff Song, which was supposed to compete directly with JetBlue -- well, we'll leave that to others (www.zyworld.com/brancatelli/tactical.htm) to speculate.
What this means for travelers is sales, sales, sales. If you live in New York, New England or Florida, Delta wants your business, and they're willing to put their money where their advertising is.
Delta's Sale From New York to Everywhere
Delta's current JFK sale is simply huge, covering flights to everywhere from Boston to Bombay. In general, you must book by Feb. 6. Fly-by dates vary from April 4 (for flights to Europe) to July 31 (for some domestic flights) -- it's all laid out on Delta's Web site here (www.delta.com/travel/sp_offers/jfk_012804/index.jsp). Expect holiday weekends to be blacked out, though all of March (for Spring Break) is open for many destinations. Rather than bore you with details, we'll thrill you with our favorite fares instead, all round-trip before tax:
- Boston: $98
- Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA: $118
- Phoenix: $158 (matching the current American Airlines sale)
- San Juan, Puerto Rico: $198
- Several West Coast cities: $198 (but remember, JetBlue still has some $158 fares out there)
- Istanbul, Turkey: $456
- Mexico City: $370
- Bombay, India: $966
Other Delta sale fares are good, if not the best. They've got a fare of $392 to Barcelona, for instance, which is beaten by Air France's $357 one-day sale today, and their $550 fare to Moscow is beaten by Finnair's current $399 deal. As always, shop around -- but if you like the fares you see listed here, but them at www.delta.com/travel/sp_offers/jfk_012804/index.jsp.
For One Week, Escape New England Cheaply
Facing competition from JetBlue, AirTran, Southwest, and for all we know some guy with a Cessna, Delta is also publicizing a sale between New England and Florida this week. But we can't get quite so excited about it, because the sale only applies to flights during the week between Feb. 4 and Feb. 11. The fares are low, though. You must buy by Feb. 4 at www.delta.com to get these fares. They include (roundtrip, before tax):
- Boston-Daytona Beach: $198
- Boston-Melbourne: $168
- Boston-Tampa: $158
- Hartford-Ft. Myers: $156
- Hartford-Miami: $198
- Hartford-Orlando: $158
- Manchester-Orlando: $148
- Manchester-Sarasota: $198
- Providence-Tampa: $158
- Providence-West Palm Beach: $138
Delta is highlighting their wide network here. JetBlue flies from Boston to Florida, but not to Daytona Beach or Melbourne, and Southwest flies from Manchester and Providence to Florida, but not to Sarasota. That said, these fares seem to be very competitive the bookable fares we could find on JetBlue's and Southwest's sites.
For instance, when we checked February dates, Delta came out the lowest on the Providence and Hartford routes listed here, though JetBlue was still beating Delta on Boston-Tampa by $10.
That's good news for Delta -- and makes Delta's sale good news for travelers who are willing to travel within its very narrow parameters.