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Question About US Airfares

Sun Nov 19, 2000 3:15 pm

I was after some info whether the US have budget or low fare airlines that are cheaper to fly with than the bigger airlines. In Australia we've just had Virgin Blue and Impulse enter the market and We've seen a dramatic drop in prices. Also wondering what a good airfare wold be for a one way trip between LA and DC.
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RE: Question About US Airfares

Sun Nov 19, 2000 3:23 pm

$200 sounds about right.
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RE: Question About US Airfares

Sun Nov 19, 2000 5:18 pm

Friend, the U.S. essentially invented low-fare carriers.  

Southwest is the primary low-fare airline in the U.S., and in size, it ranks in the top 10 airlines in the nation. They're a an absolutely fabulous carrier, with low fares, open seating, friendly and courteous staff, and they make sure your flight is fun, often resorting to dozens of corny jokes over the P/A. I've flown them several times, and I'd fly them again in a heartbeat.  

SWA is based in Dallas, Texas, but they fly from coast-to-coast, serving a mix of primary and secondary airports with their all-737 (200,300,500,700) fleet.

Incidentally, they could get you from LA to Washington, if you don't mind arriving at BWI, which is located between Baltimore and Washington. SWA is showing a fare of $402 R/T right now, seven day adv. purchase; you'll have to make 2-3 stops along the way. If you think you're getting from LA to DC for $200, you'd better start phoning Greyhound.

You can find out more information about Southwest at http://www.iflyswa.com.

A short note about American low-fare carriers--generally, there are two seperate kinds: the deep-discount carriers (which fly for dirt cheap fares and fly into secondary airports, often with reduced service, open seating, no boarding passes, etc.) and mid-discount carriers (which fly for somewhat discounted fares, flying into primary airports, and offering service that's on par with the majors).

Other low-fare carriers are as follows:

Access Air: A deep-discount carrier, designed to lower airfares for business travelers in the Des Moines market, which is controlled by just a few airlines and has precious few alternative airports. Once bankrupted by running a moronic route structure that included stops in backwater burgs like Peoria. Recently brought back to life on government subsidies, with a partnership with ATA. Currently flies DSM-MDW, but plans to expand to New York, Los Angeles, Denver, and other large market airports. http://www.accessair.com

AirTran Airways: A mid-discount carrier based in ATL, flying in the east using 717s, DC-9s, and one 737. Was formerly ValuJet, which merged with AirTran, a 737 charter operator out of MCO shortly after the Everglades crash in 1997. Offers business class, as well as economy. http://www.airtran.com

Allegiant Air: A deep-discount carrier that flies DC-9s from Fresno and Long Beach on the west coast. http://www.allegiant-air.com

ATA (American Trans Air): Once exclusively a charter operator, ATA flies a combination of charter and scheduled deep-discount flights cross-country, utilizing 727-200, L-1011, and 757-200 aircraft. Hubs at Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) and Indianapolis, IN. Will replace the 727s and L-1011s with new 757-300 and 737-800 aircraft (with winglets on the 737s). http://www.ata.com

Delta Express: A subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, Delta Express flies 737-200s in the East to Florida. A mid-discount carrier with deep-discount fares. http://www.delta.com

Frontier Airlines: Based at DEN, Frontier flies 737s (200s, 300s) from coast to coast. A mid-discount carrier. Well known for its lively and colorful aircraft tails, which feature scenes from the west painted on them. http://www.flyfrontier.com

jetBlue: Based at New York Kennedy (JFK), jetBlue flies service to Florida, Buffalo and Rochester and a trio of cities out west (Ontario, Oakland and Salt Lake City) using brand-new A320s. A mid-discount carrier. Features in-flight PTV's in every seat. Currently the hottest up-and-coming airline in the industry. http://www.jetblue.com

MetroJet: A subsidiary of USAirways, MetroJet also flies in the East to Florida using 737-200s. Deep-discount carrier. Has some routes that don't go to Florida. http://www.usairways.com/metrojet/index.htm

Midway Airlines: The reincarnation of Midway flies out of Raliegh-Durham on routes in the east, using CRJs, F-100s, and 737-700s. Partner with American Airlines. Mid-discount carrier, well-known for its bright yellow tails. http://www.midwayair.com

National Airlines: The reincarnated version of National flies out of LAS across the country, using 757-200s. Mid-discount carrier, known for their good service and friendly employees. Second only to jetBlue as the hottest up-and-coming airline in the country. http://www.nationalairlines.com

Pan Am Airways: A mid-discount carrier that took on the proud name of the former PAA in 1998, Pan Am is based in Portsmouth, NH, and flies almost exclusively to secondary airports near large markets such as Boston, Chicago, Orlando, St. Louis, etc. Flies refurbished 727-200s in all-Clipper Class formation, which features increased pitch and legroom and inflight snacks. Three aircraft feature the graceful winglet hushkit system. Also flies charter flights. http://www.flypanam.com

Shuttle America Airlines: A deep-discount carrier flying Dash-8-300s out of Trenton and Buffalo to a few selected destinations in the East. Recently started service from Boston Hanscom Field to New York LaGuardia. http://www.shuttleamerica.com

Southeast Airlines: A deep-discount public-charter carrier based in ATL, flying DC-9s to Charlotte, Tampa/St. Petersburg, and Sarasota. Also flies charter flights. Took over the National Sun King logo, after it changed hands a couple of times. http://www.jetsoutheast.com

Spirit Airlines: A deep-discount carrier based in Mirimar, FL, Spirit flies DC-9s and MD-80s almost exclusively in the eastern U.S., although they do fly one route from DTW to LAX. http://www.spiritair.com

Sun Country Airlines: A deep-discount carrier based at MSP, flying 727-200s and DC-10s on a combination of charter and scheduled flights across the country and internationally. http://www.suncountry.com

United Shuttle: A mid-discount carrier subsidiary of United Airlines flying on routes in the west, primarily along the San Francisco-Los-Angeles corridor. Flies 737s (300s, 500s). Once called Shuttle by United. http://www.united.com

Vanguard Airlines: A deep-discount carrier based at MCI, flying 737-200s mostly in the east. http://www.flyvanguard.com

If you want a cheap airfare from LA to Washington, it looks like your best bet right now is on ATA, which offers a fare of $248 R/T plus tax if you buy before Monday. You'd fly from LAX to MDW on a 757, and then change planes to a 757 or 727 to DCA.

Hope this helps!  

RE: Question About US Airfares

Mon Nov 20, 2000 2:18 am

I'm not sure how the Australian airline market is structured, but here in the US the airlines have perfected market segmentation to such an art that you cannot simply divide a RT fare in two to get a OW. The airlines know that if you're buying a one way ticket, you are probably not a price sensitive vacation traveler. So they stick it to you.

You can frequently get a round trip for a lot less than a one way. If you fly a discount carrier of questionable quality like ATA or Sun Country, you can probably get a OW LAX-DCA/IAD for less than $300. If you want to fly a major airline, you may have to go up to at least $600 or even over $1000. If you buy a round trip, discount carriers may be around $300, and majors around $400. Occasional fare sales may bring it down a little.


Mon Nov 20, 2000 2:33 am

Questionable quality? What makes them 'questionable'? Is it that they don't have a first class cabin? No FF program? All Airlines are good, especially the smaller ones. And it takes a lot to beat the majors.

RE: Question About US Airfares

Mon Nov 20, 2000 3:28 am

Lowfareair, I think a lot of people would disagree with your statement that "all airlines are good." Tower, for example, most certainly wasn't. Obviously, quality isn't a measure of whether an airline has a first class cabin or a FF program. But I think on-time performance, treatment of passengers, and seat comfort are good indicators. The fact is that smaller low fare airlines, especially those flying older aircraft, have fewer resources to deal with mechanical breakdowns. A small fleet means that one aircraft down with a problem results in significant system wide delays. That's why you are much more likely to be delayed on a small low fare airline, and for longer, than on a major. And while some small airlines do try harder because they're new, many just don't have the money to. Furthermore, sometimes I think that being packed in 10-abreast in a DC-10 (Sun Country) or L1011 (ATA) just isn't worth the money saved. That's why I say these airlines are of "questionable" quality.

That being said, I do think that if you are short on money, don't mind delays or being scrunched or the occasional dirty plane, then these low fare airlines are fine. I also like them because they bring the majors' fares down. But if the fare isn't that much higher, I'd opt for a major anyday.
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RE: Question About US Airfares

Mon Nov 20, 2000 3:28 am

Fares vary pretty widely, but the lowest fares, other than Thanksgiving specials, are currently $318. This is available on 2 discount carriers, ATA and Frontier, as well as on Midwest Express. The lowest fare for the majors is running $348. Incidentally, as an example of how low fares can go, you can buy a Thanksgiving special right now for only $189 on several carriers, including AA, UA, US, TW, CO, HP, DL, NW, ATA. All of these other than NW actually offer this fare ($189) into DCA, the most convenient DC airport.
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RE: Question About US Airfares

Mon Nov 20, 2000 3:44 am

I believe that ATA might be a good choice for you. They fly pretty comfortable 757s on both segments (LAX-MDW; MDW-DCA) I have traveled this route and it was not bad at all. Right now if you book your fare through www.expedia.com you can save 15% on all ATA bookings. They also fly into National-Reagan Airport (DCA) which is much more convienent than Dulles (IAD,in Northern Virginia) or Balitimore (BWI, in Baltimore, Maryland). They even show you a movie on the LAX-MDW segment (at least on 757s). The food isn't great but it is better than going on Southwest peanuts the entire flight. Besides that try checking each airline's individual web-sites for fairs exclusively on their site. I know for certain that United & American (the only 2 that go non-stop from LAX-IAD) offer these fares on their website. Also try Frotier and Southwest for cheap fares. I hope I was helpful
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RE: Question About US Airfares

Mon Nov 20, 2000 9:49 am

Thanks to everyone who replied. Your info was very helpful and I look forward to flying in the US soon.

RE: Question About US Airfares

Mon Nov 20, 2000 12:03 pm

I saw charter alley today at CLE. Its pretty funny to see the kind of crowds the LAS and CUN flights attract..LAS is overserved. We have ATA with a mix of 757/727, CO has two 738s and two 757s daily and WN has two Saturday non-stops.
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RE: Question About US Airfares

Mon Nov 20, 2000 1:24 pm

If you're not from the US, call any of the major airlines to see if they have any specials for non-residents. I've heard a few of my international friends using them in the US, and I've used the special fares when travelling within Australia. AA, UA, NW, and DL would probably be your best bets in that order I think.
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RE: Question About US Airfares

Mon Nov 20, 2000 2:55 pm

Ive flown suncountry many times,as well as majors msp to lax, sun country is probably my favorite, and Ive never had a delay yet. Also I believe in january they are taking delivery of 6 new 737-800. Just my 2 cents.

RE: Raddog2

Mon Nov 20, 2000 6:39 pm

Let me add a word I forgot. "All profitable airlines".

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