October 15, 2003 -- Like a beautiful bird that makes a habit of stopping by your windowsill during its migrations, we're always glad when the $198 coast-to-coast fares come by our desks. Spurred on by a slew of airlines, these fares offer a $30-50 discount from what we've been seeing over the past few weeks.
A word of warning, though: the lowest fares are never available for holiday travel. We'll list blackout dates below, but the airlines understand that they can charge higher fares on dates when people feel they need to go.
The broadest array of coast-to-coast options comes from United, which is offering a slew of routes for $99 each way, before taxes. Not all of these are technically cross-country, but they're all good prices for long distances:
- Norfolk (Va.) to LA
- Columbus (OH) to Seattle
- Indianapolis to Sacramento
- Albany to Phoenix
- and of course New York to LA are just a few of the routes they're serving up.
To get these fares, you must buy 21 days in advance, stay a Saturday night, and travel by next March 6. Holiday spoilsport dates -- we mean, blackout dates -- are Nov. 26, Nov. 30 through Dec. 1, Dec. 19-22. Dec. 26-28, and Jan. 4. Buy online at www.united.com/page/article/0,1360,50140,00.html.
JetBlue is taking other airlines' sales and raising them a seatback TV. JetBlue tickets must be purchased by Oct. 31 for travel by Feb. 10, with a 7-day advance purchase. They don't list blackout dates, but we'd be amazed to find these fares available over the holidays. Routes hitting that wonderful $99 (before tax) level include:
- Atlanta to Long Beach or Oakland (CA)
- Boston to Denver
- Fort Lauderdale to Long Beach (CA)
- New York to San Diego
Buy online at www.jetblue.com/specialoffers/superfly.asp.
America West is so thrilled to be starting up coast-to-coast nonstops, that they're offering flights at -- you guessed it -- $99 each way, before taxes. The hook is that unlike JetBlue, they fly into Los Angeles' main LAX airport, not the subsidiary Long Beach airport. Their new routes, each with two flights a day, are:
- New York (JFK) to LA and San Francisco
- Boston to LA and San Francisco
Service to LA starts Oct. 26; service from New York to San Francisco starts Dec. 19, and service from Boston to San Francisco starts March 1. Book tickets by Oct. 20 for travel between now and March 31. A seven-day advance purchase, but no Saturday night stay is required. Holiday misery (um, blackout) dates are Nov. 25, 26, 29, 30; Dec. 1, 19-20, 27-28; Jan. 3-4, 9-12; Feb 16 and 22 and March 7, 12-14, 17-22, and 25-28. Buy your $198 roundtrips online at www.americawest.com/specials/sp_transconsale.htm.
If southern Florida is your home or your goal, check out this week's sale from Southwest. Fares from Fort Lauderdale to all Southwest destinations are no higher than $99 each way. That includes such far-flung burgs as Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Spokane and San Diego. You must buy by Oct. 16 (yes, that's Thursday) for travel before March 6 with a 21-day advance purchase. Nab these fares at www.southwest.com/hotfares/fll_air.html.
Separately, Southwest is offering other $99 (before tax) cross-country fares on routes such as these:
- Baltimore to San Jose
- Birmingham, AL to Oakland
- Buffalo, NY to Oakland
- Jacksonville, FL to LA
- Manchester, NH to Phoenix
Book these fares by Thursday at www.southwest.com/hotfares/hotfares_air.html?src=luv.
Delta's sale focuses on their hometown, Atlanta. You must buy by Oct. 23 for travel by Feb. 13, and a 7-day advance purchase (but no minimum stay) is required. Don't try to travel on Nov. 21-22, 25-26. 29 and 30, Dec. 1, 22-23, 26-28, or Jan. 2-4. Here's what you get for under $99 each way out of Atlanta before taxes:
- Orange County (CA): $99
- Wichita (KS): $65
- Milwaukee: $65
- Kansas City: $65
- New York: $85
- Boston: $85
Buy online at www.delta.com/travel/sp_offers/atl_101403/index.jsp.
We would not be surprised to find many of these fares matched by US Airways and American, as well, so as usual, shop around using your favorite travel agency site before buying.
Tell us about your recent flights - the good, the bad and the indifferent - on our Air Message Boards. Click here to get started.